Thursday’s Tip: Google It

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The 21st century classroom has many, many needs. There’s research to be done, papers to write, schedules to keep, information to share, connections to be made, messages to send, conversations to have, books to read, and a whole world to explore. Google can fill all your needs and it’s free*.

Once only known as a search engine and eventually an email provider, Google has long since added many applications that are available for free with a significant amount of storage for its users. Just within the menu of a typical Gmail account, one can find links to a calendar, documents, photos (Picassa), sites, and the web (search). Additionally, there are maps, groups, video (YouTube), blogs (Blogger), and a RSS reader. I haven’t even mentioned the options for searching the news, images, books, scholarly articles, or whatever you want. There are also offline tools such as a web browser (Chrome), a drawing program (Sketchup), a 3-D model of the earth, and even an operating system. This list only scratches the surface of what Google currently offers its users.

That’s great, but how do we best use Google in the classroom?

There are some good resources for all-things-Google out there for teachers. TeacherHub.com offers “100 Google Tips for Teachers,” covering everything from search tips to any basic tasks with which Google can help. EdTech-er Tom Barrett’s popular series of “Interesting ways to use…” utilizes Google Presentation (a Doc app similar to PowerPoint) and even features several just for Google tools. Google for Educators offers some ways in which you can use Google in the classroom. Finally, here are 100 more ways Google can make you a better educator.

No matter your needs, Google has a tool that can help. You should begin today by signing up for an account and exploring these and other apps offered by Google. You may even find yourself earning the distinction of Google Certified Teacher in the process.

What are your favorite Google tools to use? How have Google tools enhanced student learning in your classroom?

*Google Apps for Schools is not free, but it’s affordable and offers many solutions for schools with limited resources.

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center and avid Google user.