The more I learn about Google and the variety of web services this company offers, the more impressed I become. The amount of free, reliable, super-useful tools provided by Google is really pretty amazing. I recently had a chance to visit Google’s booth at the annual iste (International Society for Technology in Education) conference in San Diego a few weeks ago. A Google representative was able to show me some tools and apps that I had not known about, but for this blog entry I will be offering a general list of some useful ways to use Google in the realm of K-12 education.
Google Page Creator: The name says it all. This is a simple, no programming skills needed, easy way to get a page onto the internet. Aside from being easy to create, it’s also free to host. The pages can really do anything a basic page would need to do. Using Google Page Creator, a teacher could make a class homepage, or a student could make a webpage about a topic of study. Ask a student if they would rather write a paper or publish a website. I bet we could all predict the answer!
Google Maps/Google Earth: The days of pulling down a map from above the chalk board are long gone! Both Google Maps and Google Earth provide a powerful way to view landscape anywhere, at any scale. These two options are similar, though Google Earth gives the user a more interactive, impressive environment to explore. You can precisely navigate through 3D environments, measure distances, and use included tools to learn about the location you are viewing. Google Earth does require a download while Google Maps is accessed online. With Google Maps, you can view a traditional map view or use satellite view to see the real thing. You can even zoom all the way in to see street view, which gives you the vantage point of a person on the street.
Google Apps: The Google Apps Marketplace has a whole section related to educational apps, many of which integrate with Google tools such as Google calendar or Google docs. These apps which can be useful for teachers, parents, and students can be utilized on mobile devices or a personal computer. Some popular downloads include gradebook apps for teachers and learning apps for kids such as BrainPOP.
Other Google owned properties: If Google buys or becomes involved with a company or service, you can be pretty sure the product is of high quality. Also, when Google puts its name on a new product, it will often make improvements to improve functionality and usability. Three properties owned by Google that can help learning are Blogger, Panaramio, and YouTube.
Posting in a blog is a great way for students to share knowledge or opinions. Then their peers can comment and have discussion on what was posted. Blogger is an easy way to start a classroom or a personal blog site. We all know YouTube, but did you know there is an educational version? At YouTube EDU (http://www.youtube.com/education), parents and teachers can search for and find educational material and not have to deal with irrelevant or inappropriate search results. Panaramio is a great way to supplement geography and history. At this site, you can search a world map and view user submitted pictures from that location.
The following link will take you to a Google page that lists more useful Google products: http://www.google.com/options/
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