Teachers at all levels are expected to be on the cutting edge of technology and Internet education, despite the level of technical or computer training they’ve received. But with these Google applications and tools, creating websites, collaborating with students and other teachers in real-time over the Internet, and staying organized through your cell phone has become a quick and easy way to bring technology to students, find more relevant information from specialized search engines and utilize multimedia tools to make learning more fun and a teacher’s job just a little bit less hectic.
Stay organized with these management and collaboration tools, including online calendars, notebooks and cell-phone friendly systems.
- Google Calendar: Google Calendar is a Web-based version of the community calendar out in the hall or on your bulletin board. You can invite other teachers, club leaders or even students to put up events, birthdays and test dates on the calendar depending on your privacy settings. Google Calendar also lets you set up automatic reminders sent straight to your cell phone.
- Google Desktop: If you plan to use several Google tools and applications, then using Google Desktop to keep you organized could be a smart move. Google Desktop lets users perform a quick search for items on their computer, keep a Google Gadgets button on their Dashboard and on their iGoogle page, search your Gmail account and web history, and enjoy the automatic indexing feature. Google Desktop is designed for Macs, but there are also versions for Windows and Linux available.
- Google Pack: Google Pack is designed for PCs, but there is a Mac-friendly version available too. Software that comes in the Pack includes a Norton Security Scan, Picasa, Google Desktop, Google Earth, Real Player, Skype, Adobe Reader, Google Toolbar, StarOffice, and more. Google Pack is completely free and loads quickly, so all of your tools are ready to use as soon as you are.
- Google Mobile: Google Mobile allows you to “take Google with you on the go.” Teachers who have to commute to class can work on their lessons from their cell phones by having Google send them a mobile-friendly set of Google tools just for their phone.
- Google Notebook: Google Notebook is a great tool for teachers organizing their lecture notes or lesson plans. While you’re online, you can easily transfer images, text and links to your Google Notebook from your browser window. The tool also lets teachers manage several notebooks at once, publish their notes to the web and work with Google Notebook from a cell phone.
- Google Reader: Get automatic feeds and updates from your daily online reads sent to your inbox with Google Reader. This method will save you time spent weeding through unrelated posts or news and lets you discard or star certain items at a glance.
Communicating with Students
Communicate with students in a nontraditional way through private websites for class projects, Google translators that help with distance education classes and more.
- Google Groups: Google Groups are great for working on class projects and classroom camaraderie even when you’re finished for the day. Teachers can set up a customizable group page, and students can discuss new ideas and post links to keep the dialogue going.
- Translate: This easy-to-use tool can be a big help for distance learning teachers wanting to reach out to students around the world and for teachers who need to quickly translate a text from its original form.
- Google Page Creator: Teachers without a lot of techie experience don’t have to sign up for a web design class or stress about blogging when they use the Google Page Creator. This tool lets you “create your own web pages, quickly and easily,” without needing to know HTML code or hosting. Your students will benefit from being able to access class information and view multimedia presentations even when they’re at home, studying for a test.
- Google Sites: Provide your students with a safe, private platform to discuss class materials, work on a project or ask you questions with Google Sites. This app lets you set up a secure group website that only certain people can visit and edit. Google Sites does not require any knowledge of website design or HTML code, and it’s all free.
- Google Talk: Choose to talk with students or other teachers by instant message, Gmail chat, file transfers or PC to PC voice calls. The Chatback feature “let[s] visitors to your site chat with you” if they have a question outside of class.
Teaching Tools and Designing Lesson Plans
For help planning your next class, turn to these Google apps and tools that will connect you to quality, relevant information fast.
- Google Earth: Geography, urban planning, geology and social studies teachers can use Google Earth to zoom in on satellite images from locations around the world, giving you free and fast access to places just by typing in a keyword or address. The current version also has a sunlight feature, allowing you to view the area at different times of the day.
- Writely: Writely was acquired by Google in 2006 and is now generally referred to as the word processer in Google Docs. You can create and edit documents while collaborating with other teachers or parents in real time through this application.
- Google SketchUp: This 3D modeling software program comes in two versions: one for professionals and one designed just for educators and students. SketchUp for Education features a free or discounted offer on the software, and K-12 or college-level instructors who want to teach architecture, design, Web design, construction or other subjects will want to try it out.
- Picasa: Google’s photo editor is called Picasa, and it’s totally free to use. Educators can easily organize and edit digital photos for presentations or for the bulletin board.
- Google Finance: Math, social studies and finance teachers can easily design class projects that study the stock market and economy with this tool. Google Finance allows users to manage a portfolio, view market data in their iGoogle Tab or in charts, view a stock screener, do a company search for stock and mutual funds information, read related news stories, search for blogs from the companies you’re studying and more, right on the same page.
- Google Image Search: If you’re doing a search just for specific pictures to match a presentation or lesson, you can cut your search time in half by using Google Image Search.
- Alerts: Many teachers don’t have time to research every little detail from their lesson plan, but wouldn’t it be nice to pull great resources from the web without having to search for them yourself? You can set up several Google Alerts so that whenever an entry with your keywords shows up, Google will automatically send them to you in an e-mail. You can have the alerts sent daily, weekly, or as it happens.
- Scholar: Search for scholarly journals, papers and citations from this quick search engine.
- Google Patent Search: All types of educators can benefit from the Patent Search, which finds graphs, inventor information, issue dates, filing dates and patent numbers for over 7 million items and ideas.
- News Archive Search: Uncover historical documents and old news stories with this easy search engine. You can search by topic or by time period, and Google automatically creates a graph timeline and organizes your search by date if you choose that option.
- GOOG-411: Google’s 411 service is free to use from any type of phone, and you can choose to get a map of the area and information about the business sent to your cell phone.
- Book Search: Search any kind of book with this tool by browsing categories like philosophy, romance, women’s rights, computer history, short stories, poetry, political science, classics, biology and more. When you select a book, you can choose the option to buy it from different online retailers, read or write book reviews, preview the book, and even read the whole text online.
- Google Transit: Easily plan field trips around your city with Google Transit, which finds maps of public transportation along your route in cities like Detroit, Cape Cod, Irvine, Las Vegas, Tampa, Sacramento, Austin, Seattle, Pittsburgh and more.
- Google Special Searches: Educators who teach one subject will love the Google Special Searches tool, which allows them to use search engines just for their niche. Examples of these engines include U.S. government, public service, university, and more.