Google Tips and Tricks

Researching and Sharing with Google Tools

Written by Diana Benner

With two free Google tools, educators can ensure that when students are researching, they come away with valid data and conclusions.

“How do you activate engagement, motivation, and interest with research tools?” Researching and sharing meaningful findings can be daunting for students. That’s why two tools, Google Scholar and Tour Builder, can be used to create a virtual tour of student learning.

During a recent TCEA Google Educator Level 2 Bootcamp, participants learned ways they can use some lesser-known aspects of Google’s suite of tools available to students to enhance engagement. “If students are not paying attention, they are not engaged; and, hence, they are not learning” (Pat Wolfe, as cited in Digital Media in Today’s Classrooms). If students are not engaged, they simply report facts and information without real meaning (Source). Google tools like Scholar and Tour Builder make learning more engaging for students of varying ages.

Teachers say a top priority in today’s classrooms should be teaching students how to “judge the quality of online information.” A significant portion of the teachers surveyed report spending class time discussing with students how search engines work, how to assess the reliability of the information they find online, and how to improve their search skills. (Excerpt from Pew Research study How Teens Do Research in the Digital World)

Tool #1 – Google Scholar

Not familiar with Google Scholar? Scholar can be a boon to high school students keen on researching a topic. It provides one virtual space where they can find scholarly literature and locate documents through the library or via the web. Furthermore, publications, authors, references, and citations can be searched and accessed. Google Scholar boasts a detailed set of support documents for learners.

Sample Search: Immigration Reform

One potential big question an educator might pose is: “How have immigration policies changed from the 1950s to present?” With Google Scholar, students can do a simple search on immigration reform and then work through the results to develop a portrait. They can also focus results through a range of years:
researching

Scholar offers students access to high quality research, a level above a traditional Google search. Combine this approach with an information problem-solving approach (e.g. Big6, Super 3) or Guided Inquiry Design (shown below).

 Tool #2 – Google Tour Builder

Students can interact with research data in a different way. They can learn to situate research within a geo-spatial context. Tour Builder enables students to create a virtual tour of their research data, adding photos, text, and video as needed. This map-based approach enables students to organize their research according to location and impact, which is appropriate for a topic like African immigration in colonial America. They can combine research, life stories, images, and video to make a compelling case for their research thesis.

Conclusion

As you can see, Google Scholar and Google Tour Builder together can provide access to sources and offer a way to create interactional research conclusions. The next time you consider creating a research assignment, move beyond more traditional approaches. For more Google tips and tricks, don’t forget to tune in to our Get Your Google On webinars. They are held the first Thursday of every month and are free to TCEA members. Register here.

 

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About the author

Diana Benner

Director of Professional Development at TCEA
Diana specializes in leadership development and all things Google. She has served as an instructional technologist, instructional designer, and an online learning specialist, supporting districts all over Texas and in state government.
Diana earned Masters of Education in Educational Technology from Texas State University – San Marcos. She also holds two bachelor’s degrees, one in Spanish and the other in Political Science, from Texas State.

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