Google – friend or foe?

ASCD SmartBrief Reports:

Google courting teachers with new tech resource
Google for Educators, a new Web site launched yesterday, offers guides and lesson plans detailing creative ways to use Blogger, Google Maps, Google Earth and nine other Google applications in the classroom. The site also offers links to a training academy that will allow teachers to become “Google certified.” (10/12)

Google says:

Google recognizes the central role that teachers play in breaking down the barriers between people and information, and we support educators who work each day to empower their students and expand the frontiers of human knowledge. This website is one of the ways we’re working to bolster that support and explore how Google and educators can work together.

The whole thrust is about ideas for using technology to innovate in the classroom. The Google Generation certainly deserves teachers who can think differently about the use of technology. But this list of tools smacks of the usual ‘tech tool’ approach – classrooms with more ‘bells and whistles’. Given the Google purchase of YouTube, the possibility is there that Google tools might actually reflect Web 2.0 think?


On the other hand, the list is a tantalising one to throw before teachers who are starting out, if only because Google has become such a ‘staple’ friend of teachers and students alike.

Let’s not forget the strength of the Read/Write web as demonstrated by this graphic from popoever.

Web 2.0 is about collaboration and remix, and syndication of data in such a way that anyone, anywhere can use use the results.

Web 2.0 does not lock the reader/writer into rigid technology actions — it intentionally forfeits that control in favor of much greater returns.

Let’s hope that Google remembers that! What I am particularly interested in is the concept of ‘expanding the frontiers of human knowledge’. Web 2.0 alone will not do this, nor even come close to facilitating this. Web 2.0 is a new environment, with new options, new possibilities, new dimensions to human cognitive engagement.

However, I see little evidence yet of Web 2.0 moving beyond into serious investigation of the semantic web and the new spaces for thinking deeply by extracting deep information! Web 2.0 Google tools for educators doesn’t address this at all – not even remotely.

Knowledge Strategy for school libraries

Who is going to guide educators in understanding cognitive information strucutures of the mind, of virtual and physical resources and new ways of interaction in a Web 2.0 environment. The technology evangelists in schools believe they have the answer!! Google the world, use wikipedia, and scrap the school library for a virtual information locker! Nuts! Or more frighteningly a solution as rigid and dangerous as ‘book burning’.
A hundred years before the advent of Hitler, the German-Jewish poet, Heinrich Heine, had declared: “Wherever books are burned, human beings are destined to be burned too.”

On the night of May 10, 1933, an event unseen in Europe since the Middle Ages occurred as German students from universities once regarded as among the finest in the world, gathered in Berlin to burn books.

In the new era of Web 2.0, school principals and technology evangelists are attacking school libraries by ‘burning’ the books – rather than doing to libraries exactly what we have to do to class rooms …… Change change change change…. and learn from the leading digital repositories in the world that are using technology to preserve literature, movies, images, etc. I hate lots of school libraries, the way that they are run, the way they look, the way school leaders ‘abuse’ their potential in the schooling of our students. But the solution is not to close their doors, but to initiate a reform as comprehensive as the one that needs to take place in our classrooms.

What does our Knowledge Strategy need to become? I’m thinking about it! Are you?



1 thought on “Google – friend or foe?

  1. Pingback: John Connell: the blog » Blog Archive » A Saturday at Tweed Horizons

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s