Google is crawling its way into the education world. A journalist phoned me this afternoon and asked what I thought about Google’s new program for educators. I went back and took a look.
In a pilot program, Google is looking to certify selected California teachers at a November 7th Teacher’s Academy to be held at their northern California headquarters. Applications are due October 22.
the intent is to build a cadre of experienced trainers who can conduct local training sessions on Google products to help improve instruction, communication, and collaboration in K-12 settings. Google Teachers will be expected to lead at least three local training activities over the course of the 2006-2007 school year and share the impact of their work with Google Teacher community.
It’s impossible and unfair to judge a program that hasn’t yet surfaced. Although this instruction is likely to be branded, most teachers (most people) could improve their searching and technology skills. Learning with one brand will likely transfer to better use with another. We’ve Microsoft certified folks for as long as I can remember and I suppose, whenever we teach a non-open souce app, we’re kinda promoting a particular brand of software.
I do wish librarians could scale up their inservices and services to better prepare their teacher partners for the shifting searching landscape and I wish all librarians had formal, updated training in searching. (I am continually grateful for my archaic experience as a Dialog searcher, indexer, and online database builder! Training that helped me to understand the innards.)
What I discovered on my trip to Google’s education site was a left frame of teacher resources I never before noticed. The suite of tools includes: a mini searching lesson; a tour of the advanced search screen; intros to Google Book Search, Google Maps, and Google Video. Even more interesting were several Web-based applications and tools I never noticed on Google before.
Google Docs and Spreadsheets offers an online word processor and spreadsheet editor:
that enables you and your students to create, store and share documents and spreadsheets instantly and securely and collaborate online in real time. If you know how to use any word processing or spreadsheet editing program, you can easily use Google Docs & Spreadsheets, and you can even upload older documents and spreadsheets instead of creating new ones. There’s no software to download, and all your work is stored safely online and can be accessed from any computer.
Google SketchUp is a basic free downloadable 3Dmodeling software. A free pro version is available for more sophisticated teacher users. Looks like a good choice for math (geometry), applied technology, and art teachers.
Google Calendar is a sharable online calendar, appropriate for teams, clubs, classes, and other groups.
Google Personalized Homepage offers a browser-based site creation with some interesting features and gadgets–a date and time clock, a class calendar, bookmarks, feeds, to-do lists, blogs, etc.
Another interesting discover that has nothing to do with Google (except that we used it as a search tool). My students we trying to time their podcasts and had a very messy time with their watches. We decided to search for online stopwatches to make the timing far more obvious to the entire group. We found several, including this one and this one. Very nice tools for planning and making presentations.