‘Google for Educators’ Unveils Interactive Tools for Schools
Inspired in part by questions from educators in the field, the Web search-engine company Google Inc. has unveiled a variety of online interactive tools, curriculum resources, and lesson plans for teachers.
The Mountain View, Calif.-based company introduced Google for Educators and Google Apps for Education last month. In addition, Blackboard Inc. has partnered with Google so that students and educators can conduct better searches for resources inside that Washington-based company’s education learning-management system, as well as scholarly works.
Google started developing Google for Educators after getting an increasing number of e-mails from teachers asking for help, said Cristin Frodella, the company’s product-marketing manager for K-12 education. Many wanted to know how best to teach students to use Google’s popular search engine, she said.
The new site features a tutorial for teachers on conducting better Web searches. Other tools include Google Earth, three-dimensional mapping software based on satellite imagery; SketchUp, a 3-D software program that lets students design buildings and explore geometric concepts; Google Book Search, which finds books that match students’ search terms; blog and photo-sharing software; and word-processing applications that allow students to work simultaneously on the same document from different computers.
The company also invites teachers to add their lesson plans to the site.
Training for Teachers
Google also has partnered with Silver Spring, Md.-based Discovery Education, a division of the media company Discovery Communications Inc., to create online lessons and digital videos to supplement Google Earth.
Teachers can access online tutorials to integrate Google Earth with Discovery’s videos, whose subjects include geometry, the American Revolutionary War, and the novel All Quiet on the Western Front, said Matt Katzive, a spokesman for Discovery Education.
In addition, Google also held a pilot training session for 50 teachers on Nov. 7 as part of its plans to offer expanded professional-development opportunities to educators around the country. The aim was for the teachers to learn how to use the Google applications as well as such online skills as podcasting and blogging.
Next year, the company hopes to offer more seminars for teachers, both in person and on the Web, Ms. Frodella said.
Google Apps for Education, which is used by schools as well as colleges and universities, includes customizable Web pages, instant-messaging tools, e-mail, and interactive calendars. Tens of thousands of educational institutions and organizations, including the 65,000 students at Arizona State University in Tempe, use Google Apps, said Kevin Gough a product-marketing manager for the company.
Blackboard, meanwhile, will integrate Google Scholar and Google OneBox for Enterprise into its Web-based learning-management system. The former software allows students to search peer- reviewed papers, doctoral theses, and other scholarly works. The latter technology allows targeted searches of Blackboard’s course catalog and all other online content.
In one recent project involving Google for Educators, the company invited students and teachers to create documents via the Web site to brainstorm ideas to combat global warming.
The online site featured links to resources and tips on techniques for slowing the increase in the world’s temperature.
Global SchoolNet, an Encinitas, Calif.-based nonprofit group that connects and teaches students via the Web and other technology, reviewed the documents and chose the 50 ideas it considered best, said Jill Lindenbaum, a Google spokeswoman. Those ideas are to be featured in a full-page ad in USA Today.
Ideas came in from upwards of 80 schools—more than half of them outside the United States, Ms. Lindenbaum added.
Eleven- to 13-year-old students at Ghana’s Opoku Ware School, for example, suggested that farmers allow land to lie fallow to enable soil nutrients to regenerate, and high school students in Romania suggested that scientists create hybrid plants that can survive in extreme conditions.
Vol. 26, Issue 13, Page 9