Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Google Tools / Educators

Over the past few years Google has expanded from an Internet Search Engine to a company that provides resources and tools for a variety of users. Everything from Google Docs to SketchUp to Blogger provides a tool that enhances and enriches our online experience.

Google also has a site specifically for educators designed to showcase their tools that educators can utilize in their classroom. http://www.google.com/educators/index.html

This site focuses on Google Earth, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Gmail and other educational related applications. The site also includes classroom activities as well as teacher guides for implementing these tools. Here are some specific examples of how these applications can impact the classroom:

Google Earth is a satellite imagery-based mapping product that lets users view the earth from space or at street level and is essentially a three-dimensional model of the planet that users can grab, spin, and manipulate. Different versions offer tools for measuring, drawing, saving, printing, and supporting Global Positioning System (GPS) devices.

Using Google Earth, teachers can enhance lessons on geography, economics, and demographics, Google says. They can use the application for geographical units on volcanoes, continents, mountain ranges, and other landforms. Educators also can download GEGraph, a free tool that enables Windows users to create charts and graphs inside Google Earth.

The Google for Educators site also helps schools take advantage of Google Apps for Education, an IT solution that brings communication and collaboration tools to the academic community free of charge.

The solution helps school IT administrators provide eMail, online calendars, instant messaging tools, and a dedicated web site for faculty, students, and staff. All aspects are delivered online, and no hardware or software needs to be installed or is needed to maintain the systems, Google says.

Google is offering its Gmail service free of charge to school domains, performing all of the upkeep of the domain and freeing up valuable IT staff time that often is spent maintaining the overwhelming amount of eMail that must be housed on any school's servers.

Google Gmail gives school faculty, students, and staff two gigabytes of storage per account, as well as search tools and built-in instant messaging that easily can be disabled for the entire school.

Google Docs allows students to create, save and modify documents, spreadsheets and presentations from a web-based online application. These documents are available 24/7 no matter the user's location. They also allow users to collaborate and modify/create documents together.

Google has the tools necessary for our classroom teachers to share, collaborate and actively engage our students every day. It is our charge to share these applications with our teachers and instruct them on how to effectively integrate it into their classroom.


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