It was many years ago that I was introduced to the internet search engine. It amazed me that a website could search through the entire web and pull up web pages from my keywords. While I got my start with Altavista, I soon found myself excited by both the simplicity and complexity provided by Google. Wikipedia defines Googal as “the large number 10100, that is, the digit 1 followed by one hundred zeros in decimal representation. The term was coined in 1938 by Milton Sirotta (1929–1980), nephew of American mathematician Edward Kasner, when he was nine years old”. The people at Google understood the meaning Googal would bring. In fact new words have appeared in the English language such as googled, googling, googler, and possibly even googlist.
In this Blog Posting I would like to investigate a small portion of the new Googal that is found in Google. Most people are aware of Google Docs, Google Earth, Google Maps, Google Flickr, Google You Tube and the Google Search Engine. It is amazing to explore some of the lesser known areas, beta projects, experiments in the making, and those too new for the (googal) of people to have found yet. Let’s explore!
Google Options – Wonder Wheel and Timeline
First, let’s look at the Google Search Engine itself. Have you ever clicked on that Show Options Button? If you have not done it lately, now is the time. Click on the Show Options Button under the search and you will see a bunch of options. One of the neatest options introduced in May of 2009 is the Wonder Wheel. When it is clicked, users get a graphical display of their search. A great way for students to expand search terms! Directly to the right on the results page are websites related to the wheel. Click on a spoke of the wheel and you get a new wheel and new links related to that spoke.
While in the options menu check out the Timeline Option. This can can be a neat educational tool. Type in iPod and you will get a timeline of significant events in the iPod’s history. Feel free to explore the option window and also notice you can Hide Options at anytime.
Another new tool released in the Spring of 2009 is Google Squared (just type in http://www.google.com/squared in your browser). Google describes this tool as a way to collect multiple facts on a subject from the web. Google Squared then presents them in an organized collection, similar to a spreadsheet. You can even customize and export results to Excel. Best of all, for students, it even includes pictures. Read more about it at Google’s Blog.
Google News Timeline
Are your students following a news event? How about looking at an event in history? Then a new service from Google called Google News Timeline is a great resource. Google describes this service as a web application that easily organizes search results by date. Google puts the news events in a graphical timeline filled with links and pictures. Data sources include recent and historical news, scanned newspapers and magazines, blog posts, sports scores, and even information relating to current media, such as music, albums, and movies. Check out the capabilities as described in the Google Information Site. Take a moment to view the example below that displays how students can even find primary sources in news history using Google News Timeline.
Google Images – More Options with Similar Images and Creative Commons
While students have access to images under “fair use guidelines ” there are still limits to usage. This is especially true if projects are to be shared online. Also, educators may have the need to share an image on the web via school web page, blog, or wiki. This is where the ability to use pictures created under “creative commons” comes in handy. Check out this Google July 2009 Blog that explains new features in the advanced settings for image filters. It is a great way to use images others have created, and still stay within copyright. Google has also introduced Similar Images Search. First, search for a picture , next use Similar Images Search to find more pictures that compliment the original search. Also be sure to note that there is a safe search option in Google. It should be set on the strict filtering option when using Google Images and even for a regular Google Web Search in the classroom.
Want to get more use out of your portable devices ? In August of 2009 Google released Google Listen. Google describes it as ” getting more power from your Android-powered device”. Google Listen allows you to search, subscribe, download and stream. The user can determine what to listen to by subscribing to programs and using search words. Google Listen will take this user information and create a personalized audio-magazine. At this time, Google Listen is indexing thousands of popular English-only audio sources. Check out the fact sheet and try a download.
Although Google Sets has been around a few years it is a little known product that can be fun to use. Google Sets was one of the very first applications produced by Google Labs. This awesome little search tool allows the user to automatically create sets of items from just a few examples. These user made sets identify related items on the web. Predict relationships between words and construct either large sets or small sets. It is a great tool for brainstorming, seeing relationships, or just figuring out what is missing. It is a surprisingly intuitive interface, one that will have you attempting to see if it knows what you are thinking. On a recent exploration I entered lions, panthers, bears and was given a set of mammals. However, when I entered Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers I was shown a set of NFL Teams. It even knows the Seven Dwarfs from motion picture, Snow White!
While I did not supply a googal of information, I do hope you are now more familiar with a little bit more of the googal of resources found in Google. As you explore the website I am sure you will continue to find even more ways to connect Google with today’s digital learner. Please visit me on my wiki as I continue to promote the use of free and inexpensive resources at http://21centuryedtech.wikispaces.com/, and enjoy googling!