What do you do when you’re connected and need a quick answer to a question? You probably just “google it” and then click the Wikipedia entry for whatever you’re “googling.” I think this is certainly true of many Generation Y workers and those born after them. Many did not grow up using print encyclopedias and dictionaries like many older (some Gen X, boomer, mature) workers. Generally, search was limited to the physical materials at hand or physical proximity to someone with the answer. In my case usually my Dad. Now that has changed across generations.
I’m actually sick of Google. Although it is a huge part of my personal learning and work environment I’m just well, blah. I think this general blah came from a few too many “according to Google…” sightings. Don’t you just want to say, “Google is not a person.” According to the Google search I just did…might be better. Splitting hairs.
So then I ran across a decent article that I read through and thought I should buck up and revisit the things that make Google such a large part of my life.
In the simplest form, Google is simply a search engine. While some would argue that a Google search is not ‘real learning,’ search (and other) tools from Google appear to have pedagogical uses.
How you harness the potential of this ‘quick ‘n dirty,’ ubiquitous search platform depends, of course, on how you use it and what tools you use beyond its basic search capability. The ubiquity of the platform is what makes it worthy of consideration for supporting workplace learning.
George Chinnery (2008) described some of the pedagogical uses of Google in his article, “You’ve got some GALL: Google-Assisted Language Learning.” Here is a recap of Chinnery’s article as it appearing in Language, Learning & Technology.
Google as an Informative Tool:
- using a dictionary command (“define: strategy”), learners can discover meaning (definition, usage, correct spelling,).
- Using Google Suggest, learners can get real time alternate suggestions (“did you mean ___?”) for their search term.
- Using Google Books will give learners returns of rich prose.
- Google Trends will return geographic information.
- Synonyms (~term), vocabulary development (Google Image Labeler), and listing and brainstorming (Google Sets) are other tools.
- For language learning, Google has Language Tools.
- Instructors wishing to control search activities for learning can use Google Coop to create a search engine for a website or collection of sites.
Google as a Productive Tool:
- Google’s Blogger provides learners a place to author their own textual, audiovisual content.
- Google Docs give learners a way to collaborate on online documents.
- Google knol is a collaborative wiki-like application for group collaboration.
Google as a Collaborative Tool:
- Google Groups can be used to facilitate asynchronous class discussions.
- Google Calendar can be used for scheduling and notification.
- Google Lively is a 3-D environment where learners can create their own avatar and make and join rooms to meet and discuss topics.
Google as a Communicative Tool:
- Gmail, (Google’s email program) together with Google Talk (instant messenger and internet telephony service) allow learners to email, save, print and email text chats and can be used to display presence of a learner. Preferences allow you to change your availability and give others an idea of your current status (online, offline, away, do not disturb, etc.). Some initial research on the benefits of chat indicate that chats in language classes “seem to help all individuals engage more frequently, with greater confidence, and with greater enthusiasm” than is characteristic for similar students in a classroom.
Google as an Aggregative Tool:
- Google offers tools that recognize linguistic, visual, audio, gestural and spacial literacies in aggregate
- On iGoogle, learners can create their own start-age; their own customized, personal learning environment.
- Google Reader is a Web feed aggregator that allows learners and instructors to collect updates content (blogs, news feeds, podcasts, vodcasts, multimedia, etc.)
- Google Gears allows learners to view content from Google Reader offline.
- Google Page Creator is a simple webpage creation tool.
- Google Maps allows you to make custom maps and Google Earth provides a satellite view of an address.
- YouTube Remixer allows learners to make video mashups.
- Google Docs is a presentation tool similar to Microsoft PowerPoint.
How Googlized are you?