Contributed by Michael J. Graham
Google is taking over education as millions of students and teachers worldwide are using Google Apps to help their students create, collaborate, and share their learning. At last count, there are 20 million Google Apps for Education users in the United States, and other countries like Malaysia have rolled out Chromebooks to over 10 million students. Chromebooks are fully operating laptop computers that run Google’s operating system and Google Apps for Education at a fraction of the cost of a Windows or Apple device.
For more details on Chromebooks and Google Apps for Education please visit my blog post located here. There you will find links to my book: Google Apps Meets Common Core and other information relating to technology and leadership in schools.
Google Apps for Education is one piece of the puzzle to get students ready for college and career. In this post I want to explore the hidden features of Google Search that will get you started in the world of Google connecting students to the world.
The internet has given us all of the world’s information at our fingertips. It is our responsibility as educators to teach students how to make sense of information to become better decision makers.
The Google Search bar can give you more than search results. It is a fully operating knowledge engine that helps students and teachers get to the information they need faster. All of the following happens directly in the search bar.
Sometimes students need to know a definition of a word. And every educator knows that a visual representation can enhance the learning experience of vocabulary. Google will surprise the user when searching for terms. Sometimes it will automatically provide the visual without prompting. As you can see in the screenshot, when searching for the word askew Google skews the screen. Try it for yourself.
Point your browser to google.com and type askew in the search bar.
Other Google Easter Eggs (hidden features of Google) are listed below. Warning: some of these have zero educational value, but you will get the point that Google is more than a search engine.
Type into the search bar:
do a barrel roll
bacon number [actor]
Every Google Search bar is a fully operating calculator. Goodby TI84. This calculator will graph functions in 3D color and convert units. To access the calculator simply type something into the search bar to compute or convert.
Google has partnered with some of the world’s leading institutions to collect relevant data that can help students and researchers make sense of the world including the WTO, World Bank, and the World Economic Forum. Google organizes the data and creates stunning graphs that help explain a problem in the world. Access the Google Public Data Explorer for an example of fertility rate vs. time vs. country. In this example Google displays data to help students better understand their world. My favorite example is explored in the lesson plan Datapalooza. This lesson plan was written for my book Google Apps Meets Common Core. As you explore this data set, pay close attention to Rwanda close to the year 1991. As you press play on the interactive graph, ask yourself and your students why fertility rate/death rate precipitously dropped during that time. What a great discussion with data to help students understand world events.
All of these tools are located directly in the Google Search bar. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Google. Start out with these tools and soon you and your students will have the skills to use technology to better their understanding of the world and to become better decision makers. Isn’t that what education is about anyway?
Michael J. Graham is a bestselling author and current school administrator who has experience integrating technology into the classroom. He still works with students and teachers everyday which keeps him on the cutting edge of what works in education. He is the author of Google Apps for Common Core, a Corwin bestseller.
Michael is presenting at the 2014 Education Symposium. Register for the conference.