Google Goodness

Media 21 Students Use Google Docs Discussions for Networked Learning During Presearch

Last Thursday, I showed our Media 21 students the new “discussions” feature in Google Docs since we’ve been using Google Docs extensively for collaborative writing and document sharing since last August.  After I introduced our presearching graphic organizer at the beginning of class today, one of our students decided to use the discussions feature with two of her classmates during presearch time today to share and discuss resources they were finding through the research pathfinder (accessible from our Media 21 Symbaloo webmix that students have pulled into their Symbaloo information dashboards).  Sydney and her two classmates were demonstrating AASL Standard for 21st Century Learners 3.1.2, “Participate and collaborate as members of a social and intellectual network of learners” as they not only shared information sources, but also as they also used the discussion feature in their shared Google Document to have a conversation about the information they were finding in their sources.

I was so impressed by how Sydney applied the sharing skill in a new information seeking context that I asked her to share with others how she went about this task, and she graciously agreed to tell us about her brainstorm!

Learn About Google Moderator @ ALA Learning

Check out my latest post on Google Moderator for asking questions, sharing information and resources, responding (text and via video), and learning at ALA Learning!

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Google Social Search: A New Node in the Personal Learning Network

The announcement that Google Social Search is now available to everyone in beta was an exciting development I stumbled upon yesterday while  looking for web-based resources on courtly love to support the database and print materials in a research pathfinder I’m developing for two of my English teachers.

This new search feature represents what I think is the evolution of the web as mainstream websites and social media/social networking become more integrated in search results.   On a personal level, the integration of my social network associated with my Google Profile into a Google search gives me yet another seamless and powerful way of tapping into the collective knowledge of my personal learning network.  Now that the social media tools associated with the Google Profile of my colleagues are part of my Google search results, I can access information and materials (original or that from others) they are sharing and posting through the cloud.  Take a look at this sample search and results when I search for ipad.

What are the implications for the students I teach in the library?  The integration of Google tools has been a major push with ninth and tenth grade students this academic year.  I think this new search feature of Google will reinforce the idea of collaborative learning and knowledge construction as students can now “network” through their Google Profiles. This new search feature also presents the opportunity to underscore the importance of establishing a positive digital footprint and to expand our existing conversations about social scholarship.   As my Media 21 project gears up for an unofficial phase two on February 23, I am looking forward to integrating this new search feature into our “toolbox” of information seeking strategies;  I am also eager to show students the possibilities for sharing information sources through Google Profiles and Google Social Search.

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Extensions Come to Google Chrome

https://chrome.google.com/extensions

Google Chrome Extensions via kwout

I started using Google Chrome as one of my browsers in August as a way of accessing and using my Google toolbelt my efficiently, but I have come to love it as much as Firefox this autumn.  However, until now, Chrome did not offer the myriad of extensions.    While I am sure there will be tweaks to these extensions as they receive feedback from users, I am excited by the possibilities because Chrome is such a fast, stable, and clean browser.  I am especially excited to see the Diigo bookmark extension (not as good as the one designed by Diigo for Firefox but better than nothing) and theShareaholic extensions; I’m also intrigued by the Google Quick Scroll extension and how students might possibly use this tool for information skimming and scanning.  Other fun extensions include NPR News, Music, and Books as well as the Picnik photo editing extension. If you are playing with Google Wave like I am, you will also want to test drive the Google Wave extension to monitor your waves.

After showing the browser to my Media 21 students earlier this semester, many installed it home and report that they love its sleek look and lightning fast performance.   I will be sharing the apps information with them in class this week as I feel confident some will want to experiment and play with these new extensions, too.

If you have not tried Google Chrome, I encourage you to check it out.  If you are heavy user of Google Apps, I especially recommend it as the Google Apps, as you might expect, live more happily in this browser space.

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Google Sites Now Offers Site Templates!

http://www.readwriteweb.com/enterprise/2009/11/google-sites-offers-templates.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+readwriteweb+%28ReadWriteWeb%29
I am jumping for joy at the latest cool addition to my new favorite tool of the 2009-10 school year:  GoogleSites!  They are now offering pre-designed template to help you get started with your web design!  As someone who has used both SharePoint and GoogleSites, I can assure you it IS much easier to work with GoogleSites in terms of editing and filing documents—fewer clicks and a much cleaner interface.  Students and teachers who have used it at my school love it, and so do I!  Google Sites has been a staple in my Media 21 toolbox for my students this semester.
Here is a sneak peek of the templates—they are up and running this morning!  I encourage you to give Google Sites a try!