In the past couple of months, Google has added some really useful features and tools to their already massive list of Web 2.0 resources. Among them:
- Reference materials have been added to Google Documents. Under the Tools menu, users can now access online dictionaries and Encylopedia Britannica. Also, basic web and image searches can be done for specific terms in a document.
- GAudi represents an attempt by Google to use new technology to actually index the audio from YouTube videos. This would allow users to search for clips where specific terms are used. For example, users could look for videos of politicians discussing “environment” or “national security.” This will be interesting to watch evolve, as it has the potential to be a very, very useful resource.
- In Quotes is currently set up to offer comparative quotes from the two main presidential candidates on a variety of issues. The site features a Spin button, which acts like a slot machine, generating random quotes on a particular topic. This would likely be a useful resource for class discussions of the campaign and election.
- Custom Search is a tool that holds some very interesting promise for educators. We are all familiar with the ever-present Google search box that is embedded in just about every site we visit. Custom Search allows users to create a search box that will focus on specific websites. An elementary teacher doing a unit on biology, for instance, could create a search bar that would only search sites that the teacher had already determined to be at the appropriate reading and content levels. (View video demonstration) The search bar could then be embedded into the teacher’s blog, wiki, or web page.
- Google News Archive Search features newspaper headlines, articles, and advertisements from archived copies of newspapers, including the New York Times, Washington Post, and North America’s oldest newspaper, the Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph, which has been in circulation for 244 years. This should be a useful resource, particularly to social studies teachers. While many of the references are only available in complete form if purchased, Google has scanned many, as well. These are indicated by the label Google News Archive under the main article link. An example is seen below.