How Has Google Changed Education

Google is used so often as a verb that it is likely that many students learn that it is a corporation based in Mountain View, CA, well after they have been googling things for a few years. Google has revolutionized access to information and its impact on education is still being fully researched. It has changed the way people think of research and assimilating data and this means a framework change in how education is approached by a whole new generation.

In days before Google, a student will face an assignment with thoughts of visits to the library and may have to talk to adults or mentors for specific subject expertise. Today, more often than not, the first stop for a history paper or a science experiment in Google. The notion that a search string can lead to targeted sites has completely cut out the random search for information.

Google has made the process of education a lot more focused and has truly democratized the process. So, essentially a child in a developing community in rural Oklahoma has the same access to information as a child in an upwardly mobile community in Manhattan. Wherever there is Internet access Google offers well sorted and pertinent information that truly makes the quest for knowledge a piece of cake.

The flip side to this, as far as teachers and schools are concerned, is that students can get overly-confident about their research capabilities. They sometimes completely miss out on the idea of researching with books and talking to librarians about reference books. There is also the danger that students do not understand that not all published information is equally valuable. The computer screen has a way of presenting all information as equally valuable and there are no cues for assessing the value or credibility of any given site. Students need to learn this kind of skill as part of their education if they are going to rely on the Internet and Google for all their information.

Google and other search engines follow logical and recognizable rubric for assessing the quality of site and order their search results accordingly. However, a student who does not understand the process may give weightage to things that are not relevant in the context of his or her education. Students need to be taught that their ease of access to information should not come at the cost of suspending their ability to think and ask questions.

Some unethical students also use Google to plagiarize information and whole articles. They find it hard to resist the temptation of ready-made articles and assume that they can get away with stealing someone else's work.

Teachers should encourage their students to use search engines such as Google because to ban is to risk losing a large segment of the student population. However, teachers should engage with the notion of search engines and point out the way the mechanism or format works. It may also be a good idea to ask students to add two references that they have not found through Google. The need for rigor in academic research has to be emphasized along with the highlighting of the ethical ways in which Google should be used.

Google is a marvelous tool for education and there is no questioning the way it has spread educational opportunities across the globe.

Google Shakes Up The Search Results! Education Should Learn From Their Vision

(Archived from: February 2011)

We have been receiving emails left and right for the last couple of days from teachers all over the U.S. The basic gist of the emails indicates that teachers are having a much more difficult time finding our lesson plans, worksheets, and tools on the web. We want to assure you that we have not made any recent changes on our end. The change that we are all seeing is a result of a recent change made by Google.

They changed their algorithm for ranking web sites up a bit. Right now it's being referred to as the Farmer Update. The basic goal was to get better search results for us; the consumer. It's like anything to make progress, you must make change. We at Teachnology applaud their efforts for working to clean up the web.

In many cases our web site is not coming up for many searches that it did for in the past. If you click to the second or third page; you should find us. So when you go in tomorrow morning you might have to make an extra click or two to find our printables. We apologize, but it's out of our control.

A number of quality websites are experiencing this right now. As many of the media outlets are reporting currently web site owners are beside themselves. Imagine owning a store with 2 doors. One door opens into a shopping mall that provides a continuous, but mild flow of people. The other door opens into the heart of New York City's busiest street. All of a sudden the weather in New York City changes to one of the worst storms in recent history. As result many people aren't going to come through your busy door. Some web site owners are the owners of that store right now.

Google is now facing a situation that is just like school, you will only hear for those that were hurt by the change. Just like school the change is for the greater good. Google is working on a new secret formula to get rid of a lot of garbage that comes up in their results. It should make our trips to the computer lab more productive. So please be patient with the changes they make as they continually work on the secret formula.

Google employees have similar dynamic challenges as classroom teachers. Every time we (teachers) find something that works. It makes our classroom a more productive place. As always, there is a child in the class looking for ways to be noticed. Left unchecked, these students will usually make the classroom a slightly less productive place. Google fights the same battle. As soon as they clean up their results, someone in the Web-O-sphere is looking for a way to get their web site noticed. We can definitely commiserate with their daily challenges. There class size is just a little bigger than ours. Just under thirty-five billion students (web pages).

We (Educators) Can Learn From This:

In the Education field we are constantly looking for ways to improve. Maybe we should take a few pointers from Google.

1. To become more effective, we might have to make huge changes.

Some people will be really happy and some really unhappy. The unhappy will be loud and looking for a conspiracy theory of sorts. Accept that before you make the change.

2. The Overall Goal Should Be To Make Better, Above All Else!

Google is now asking, “Is this better for my customers?” They are re-evaluating it a hundred times over.

"Is this better for our students?" This is the only thing that should be on our mind when we make changes in education. We should constantly be re-evaluating that as well.

3. Changes Need Be Responsive With The Culture

Google makes hundreds of little changes each year in pursuit of their overall goal. As people try to counteract Google's efforts they learn, adapt, and eventually overcome.

Education is really the only industry to display the constant systemic inability to change for the better of their clients. Most of our Kindergarteners will be working in a career field that hasn't even been invented yet. Are we really preparing those kids for their future?

Post Script To Our Little Google Snafu

Guess what, we are a Content Farm!

On Tuesday, we figured it out. A big thank you to John Hefner pointing out that pages made by our community,not Teachnology, can hurt us with this new change.

Our lesson plan maker was available for all to use and enjoy. All the lesson plans that were created went live in our directory. We started to moderate these 3 years ago, but the editor who was in charge retired. She didn't pass it along to the other editors.

When we look at the numbers, these completely useless lessons accounted for 50% of our total web site. Holy moly! We have to apologize to every teacher on the planet for wasting your time with that lesson directory.

When Google's algorithm said, “Mountain View, we have a problem!” We in fact did have a problem. Our tech guys are contacting Google now to let them know the situation, so you guys can find us again, hopefully soon.

We are cleaning this mess cleaned up right now. That directory will soon only consist of high quality lessons that are classroom-ready. Thank Google, they saved teachers again! This will save you countless hours sifting through those lesson plans. We dropped the ball on this one! If you know of any other useless things on our web site or just things that could be better, please let us know. We are nothing without you guys!

Is Google Still The King Of Quality?

Alice Newman from Dumont Elementary shared her school district's story with us last week. It seems they have a very tech savvy staff over at Dumont. Most of the staff complained that having Google as the default search engine of their web browser was doing the students a dis-service. She said especially in the area of science and math. Pretty ironic, considering Google's prized staff are software engineers.

They are now testing Bing as a default search at Dumont. They are little bite happier, but not completely satisfied. Alice challenged us to find which search engine is best for teachers. Alice and Dumont, we accept!

Let's See How They Measure Up?

We have always recommended Google since their rise in the early 2000s. But we honestly have not put them to the test in over 5 years. Time to test them and their would be competitors.

We issued a free response survey to 1800 teachers and asked them their 5 favorite search engines to use. Based on teacher recommendations, we are going to put the following 5 searches in a head to head test specifically for teachers.

Google, Bing, Ask, Dogpile, Blekko

This should be fun. We are only going to rate their page 1 results. We will have 20 classroom educators use these search engines to try to solve an everyday task and we will see who posts the best results. To be fair we will have 5 rounds and base the results on 10 criteria. This should be fun!