Our new Year 9s (still 8s) arrived today for their orientation. Thanks, Nick, for inviting me to do a few sessions as an introduction to their ipads. I’ve shared the slideshow and hope it will make sense without much of the talk behind it.
Tag Archives: google
Looking back through 2011, and trying to come to grips with how much has changed, how many people suffered or died, how many sorrowed or rejoiced, who was married. Remembering political dramas, ethical battles, private and public celebrations.
In 2011 I visited the Google Academy and changed schools. Challenges and new beginnings stir up the pot and create new possibilities and relationships. As we age we acquire more empathy whilst being more aware of our own human failings. Don’t we?
I hope you have all grown and collected good memories this year, and I wish you an excellent New Year. My hopes for the new year include new connections with teachers and students at Melbourne High School, and a return to a more regular conversation with my PLN. Conversation has become scarce on this blog and I miss it.
Thanks to Hamish Curry for the video. Agreed, Google+ has the good stuff.
This week I created a presentation for Yr 8 Indonesian students who were in the process of researching and collecting images for their Indonesian Island project. Most of them were creating a Photostory or similar in Video Studio, and this was a good opportunity for a Google Search show and tell. Although googling is something students do naturally and frequently, experience tells me that most wouldn’t have lingered on the search page long enough to check out the options in the left hand navigation.
I put this presentation together very quickly and used ‘Sumatra’ as the keyword demonstrating the different possibilities for website and image search. Here is the link.
The screenshots I included as examples of different searches made it clear that Google offers much more than the basic search. Compare what you would see if you did a basic Google image search (shown below)
I do feel somewhat torn between getting excited about undiscovered aspects of Google Image Search and the fact that the images are not searchable by Creative Commons licence. I wonder if Google would surrender to pressure and provide free-to-use images along with their search options. Judy O’Connell has written about this issue in her excellent post, Stop turning a blind eye! Media literacy in action.
So, although I still showed students the wonders of Google searching, I did introduce the issue of Copyright and ethical use of others’ information and images to the boys, and showed them Google’s Advanced Search using the ‘labeled for reuse’ option.
Although my conscience was barely appeased, I continued with the presentation, starting with the colour options. Green, for example, for ‘Sumatra’ –
Here’s an opportunity to engage students in a discussion about why a certain search option would be helpful. Why would we want to use a ‘face’ search? Perhaps if we searched for a person whose name retrieved irrelevant results, then ‘face’ would push photos of people to the top. The ‘orange’ search pushed a whole new range of results which you might not have seen otherwise. In terms of colour design, this option is brilliant too. The black-and-white and photo options often retrieve older photos, so again, the results are different, possibly useful for a historical perspective. The line drawing option looks good for primary level.
One of the best image search options, in my opinion, is Google’s Sites with Images search. I’m sure students overlook this one, and it makes such a difference to the way you can use results. You have a clear window into which websites these images are coming from so you can evaluate the website before you click on the images. This is another important aspect of search which is worth teaching because it involves the thinking and evaluation process.
How much easier is it to sort through image results when they are categorised for you! Searching by subject is just as good –
And finding similar images couldn’t be easier – just hover over an image to find similar images or more sizes.
The LIFE photo archive hosted by Google is a wonderful collection of “newly-digitized images which includes photos and etchings produced and owned by LIFE dating all the way back to the 1750s. Only a very small percentage of these images have ever been published. The rest have been sitting in dusty archives in the form of negatives, slides, glass plates, etchings, and prints.” A fantastic opportunity to find images you wouldn’t normally see, and excellent for history.
At this point I left the Google Image Search and featured a few of my favourite Google search options, starting with Wonderwheel. For students who interpret results better when presented in a visual way (that includes me), Wonderwheel is the way to go. It’s the brainstorming search option, providing you with different aspects of the original keyword. You simply click through all the suggested keywords to get to the precise one you need.
Wonderwheel even reminds you of aspects you may have overlooked.
For latest news and current results Past 24 hours search is brilliant –
I also pointed out to students the Reading Level search option which divided results into Basic, Intermediate and Advanced. The basic search results shouldn’t be overlooked by secondary students. I explained to the class that if they wanted a quick overview of their topic, the basic search result was very useful.
One of the most impressive of the searches is Google Timeline Search. Here you get a graphic representation of results for your keyword over time. If you see a peaking of results in a particular year, your curiosity will have you clicking and drilling down until you have zoomed into the results for that period of time. So much fun.
Finally I took the students into the Google Labs where creative play turns to new and exciting options, and showed them Google Squared Labs.
For easy reading and overview of facts and figures, Google Squared Labs does a great job of presenting the information in spreadsheet style. Although I haven’t had success with all my searches, it’s definitely worth trying for factual results.
Finally, I showed the students a few of my favourite visual search options, including Tag Galaxy (which never fails to impress), Behold which finds free-to-use images, and Spell with Flickr for headings. Of course, there are so many more options for image search, even for Creative Commons images, and some of them are here.
I suppose you’ve noticed my Google Certified Teacher badge taking pride of place in my blog’s sidebar. I hope that’s more a sign of what I’m going to share than any attempt at self promotion. So, you say, how was it? After the hype (which I half joking referred to on Twitter in Wonkian terms), it’s definitely time to share the experience.
For me, it was a little like T.S.Eliot said in The Dry Salvages – ‘We had the experience but missed the meaning’, that is to say, it was such a big experience, I had to come away from it to understand its impact. One and a half days in the Google offices but many weeks of suspense, attempts at imagined scenarios leading up to the much awaited day had put us all into an emotional state which delivered us to the Google headquarters as children at a birthday party. The mystery shrouding the event and Google interior wound up the intensity even tighter. It was fun spotting the large Google sign in the foyer of the building, spotting real people whose faces matched their tiny avatars on Twitter or Facebook, meeting for breakfast and become initiates by wearing the Google Teacher Academy name tags.
So, you’re saying, stop dragging out the preamble, get to the point: what was it like? What did you do?
Short answer: It was full on!! The Magic Hat had sorted us into teams; I was in Silverbrook. We sat at brightly google-coloured tables and, shortly after breakfast, were treated to Google Educators giving us an overview of the enormous range of Google tools: Search (web, specialised, multimedia, language, custom), Google Apps Education edition, Docs, Sites, Calendar, Blogger, Books, Scholar, News, Blog Search, Alerts, Maps, Earth, Gmail, Chat, Talk, Mobile, and more. Added to these sessions, some of our 55 strong cohort had offered to present Inspiring Ideas. We were treated to Google Spreadsheets (Pat Wagner), Sites for student e-portolios (Joe Donahue), creating an augmented reality school tour (Chris Betcher), e-portfolios using Blogger and Apps (Rob Clarke), using Blogger and Video Chat for minimally invasive education (Tara Taylor-Jorgensen), and an inside view of Google Apps for Education in a school (Dorothy Burt). At 6pm, in the last session: reflection and review, we shared our ‘Aha’ moments for the day with our group, and at 6.30pm we were treated to a lovely celebratory dinner.
You can breathe now.
How do I do justice to such an intensive day and from all angles? I can’t. Obviously the breadth and depth of the material was overwhelming, and at times it was challenging to keep up and remain focussed. I really enjoyed what the members of our cohort had to share, and I wish we could have seen more of how the Google apps could be used in creative and innovative ways in the classroom. We really needed more time and I suppose that was the biggest drawback – cramming so much in so little time.
Was it what I expected? I’m not sure. It’s not that Google apps/Apps are not out there for everyone to see and learn about. In that sense, we learned nothing new. But seeing everything in one and a half days, we probably saw more than we would have if left to our own devices. In between we struggled to make a dent in activities which gave us the opportunity to put some of the Google tools to use.
Most of us agreed that meeting up, connecting, collaborating and sharing was the most valuable part of the experience. So many interesting, passionate and innovative people, and we would continue to collaborate on Twitter (#gtasyd and #gct) and the GCT Group (sorry, closed community). I am grateful for new friendships and acquaintances. Thankyou so much to our GTA leaders, Dana Nguyen, Dr Mark Wagner, Wendy Gorton, Kern Kelley, Danny Silva and Lisa Thumann, for your expertise and passion.
Next on the agenda is formulating an action plan – how we will share what we have learned, either through presentations or in the classroom. It’s difficult to decide where to start.
As a teacher librarian, I’d like to say to my colleagues – you are already well skilled in many of the Google tools. We are experts in Search, News, Scholar, Google Books, and there are experts among us with things like Google Lit Trips. What we don’t know, we can learn from the excellent Google help and crib sheets.
So, having said that, here is my initial idea for a Google action plan – to create a community for Google PD either in Google Groups or Sites specifically for teacher librarians. This would be a place to share knowledge, ideas and material. There are experts amongst us, and it would be good to pool our collective talents to present professional development either face to face, or through slideshows and webinars. Glenda Morris and I are both GCT TLs in Victoria, and when I spoke to Glenda about this idea, she was happy to take part. There is already so much prepared by Google, for example, take a look at all the material in Google Web Search: Classroom lessons and resources.
What do you think? I would love to receive feedback for this idea. And please, if I’ve missed something you wanted to know about the Google Academy experience, please ask.
(A big thankyou, also, to Lisa Perez (TL in Chicago) who initiated meeting Glenda and me before the conference, and encouraged us to join forces as TLs).