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ES2012 notes – Let’s Go Google: An Overview of Teaching with Google Tools May 8, 2012

Posted by aquillam in teaching.
Tags: , , , ,

This session was a very quick overview of some of the Google apps that the presenters know are either really useful or are being used in unique, effective, or interesting ways on campus.

Maps and Earth

street view lets you see pictures of the area if a Google street view vehicle has been down that road. Use it to “visit” other places.
Create custom points – eg where fish species have been spotted. These can be saved and shared with other users.
You can add notes, images, more.
collaboration on a map is possible. New maps you create are not available from within Google Maps, but you can share the map or embed it in a webpage.


You can do a normal image search (i.e. type the thing you want an image of into the search field), or you can drag an image into search bar for reverse image search. I’d like to know how this search compares to tineye.

Scholar & Books

Search both library and public resources with Scholar. Returns “scholarly” publications that Google can access.
For library resources, the MLibrary link at top connects to the get it tool.
Books makes full text books online for books in the public domain. Partial books are available for books that are in the public domain.


Simple website builder
Integrates with other tools, so you can embed something like a form (see docs, below) or a you tube video in your site.
Generally easy to use, with lots of templates and flexible design features. If you want more, you can use limited code as well.
Used widely for portfolios on campus – living arts community, for example, has students create class portfolios using  a template designed by the instructor. The portfolios are visible to others in the class so they can share, comment, and collaborate with each other.


Simpler than a site. Very flexible, lots of themes, very customizable. Also very easy: 20-30 minutes to come up to speed with it.
Suggestion: use key words to organize comments. Comments can be used during class for live discussion or back channel.


This is a complex tool that does a lot. It collects and collates information about any website or web-based tool you enable it on. For example, are students accessing your information? From what devices and when? On campus or off?


The view is email like, with different lists and “collections” for organization.
Docs includes stripped down Word (“Document“) and Excel-like (“Spreadsheet“) apps. Note the spreadsheet uses the older date handling, so if you have an .xls file, it will understand the dates. It can also interpret the .xlsx dates if you convert it to a google doc. Pivot tables were recently added, but it has fewer equations and no macro support. Documents have limited formatting options. It can do a table of Contents based on headers, but not an index.
The button next to “create” is the upload button. When you upload something, you have the option of converting it to Google format. Otherwise, you can leave it in the original format and use docs as a file repository.
Drawing lets you make vector drawings (like Illustrator drawings)
Synchronous collaboration – multiple users can edit and comment at the same time. Users get a color, so you can tell who is working on what section, so you shouldn’t suffer from the “too many cooks” problem. There is also a chat window, but note the chat widow is NOT saved, so things that need to stay need to go in doc or comments, not in chat
You can also comment on comments so you can have something like a critique on a paper with a discussion of the critique all in a single document. Comments in word or pdf docs are maintained if you convert the doc.
Revisions history – under file menu, highlights what each person did during each revision. All collaborators get a color, so you can quickly see who did what work (at least, if you don’t have more than a handful of collaborators.)
Forms makes it really easy to create a new form or survey.
The appearance is customizable with several themes available.
You can embed the form in a webpage, Google site, Doc, or even run the form in email (with html enabled mail client)
This could be a clicker alternative. However, you can’t restrict the form to one use (i.e. people can fill in forms multiple times.) Also, there is no way to make the form anonymous AND track who filled it out.
Submissions are stored in a spreadsheet
In the spreadsheet, data visualization under View is usually a very quick & easy to create graphs, charts, or, if there are one word answers, a wordcloud. It does a really good job of guessing what type of graph would be best without you having to pick ahead of time.
Right now, the sharing options are:  UM, public, owner only, or you can create a list of specific people. Hopefully, sharing will be able to do MCommunity groups by fall. Levels include view only, view and comment, or view comment and edit. “…with the link” options determines whether or not the doc will show up in a search, or if the only way to get to it is with the link.
Important: if you can edit the doc, you can probably also change permissions. Pay attention to who you give edit access to!


social network
hangouts may be the best (for some people, the only) reason for plus
You can invite people from the start screen or add them once the hangout is started
You can share a video, desktop, or doc inside a hangout (or share a video inside a doc on your desktop in a hangout – Google matruska!)

Some notes about security
The apps are covered by the university’s agreement with Google, but you need be aware of what restrictions your app has on it. If you make something editable by a student, the student could make it public.

sketchup has been bought and is probably being taken out of Google apps.

other tools of interest:
presentation (part of docs)
picasa – photo sharing
reader – rss reader
translate – good for fall theme semester
google goggles on phone
google music
labs – you never know what you might find!



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