Thursday, June 04, 2009

Google Squared - a great tool for educators?

Yesterday Google announced Google Squared, a new release from Google Labs. From the official announcement: "Google Squared is an experimental search tool that collects facts from the web and presents them in an organized collection, similar to a spreadsheet.". I've played with it for a while today, and while it might not be the best way to search for things, I can imagine a lot of great ways to use it in classrooms.
A sample Square on cloud types
The most obvious use is for teachers to use Google Squared sheets as learning materials. You can easily create a list of US presidents, african countries, renaissance artists, cats breeds, learning management systems, ... and much more. Textbooks are all full of lists, but they are static. With Squared, you can create your own list, edit rows, columns and data, and easily change the whole list whenever you want to.
The automatically generated lists are (of course) far from perfect, but that's exactly where I see the biggest learning opportunity. You can present an incomplete list to your students and have them find missing data or check the validity of the provided data. You can also have students try to create their own lists (you can even start with an empty table), save them on their Google accounts, and then compare lists with peers. Who got the data right? Is your data source reliable? I think this can be a great exercise on how to deal with online resources. And even the Squared Help page emphasizes double-checking the information in your Square! :)
Do you see Google Squared being useful in classrooms?

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