Online Tools For TeachersI was recently asked to do a presentation for the teachers in my school on Google's various tools.  I discovered that while most teachers use Google for all of their searches very few were aware of the great additional search tools that Google provides.  These tools are great for any teacher, regardless of their particular discipline.

{mosimage}Google It!

Everyone uses Google for searching the Internet, but Google has come out with some great resources that are truly on a level all to themselves:

Google Scholar:

Directly search the texts of peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, abstracts and articles, from academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories, universities and other scholarly organizations. Some articles are available in their full text forms. Others you may have to ask the media center or another library to help you obtain.

Pros: Lets you get your research from highly reputable sources, not just some generic web page.

Cons: Some articles cost money for reprints, sometimes it is hard to tell from the abstract if you really should bother with getting the full article.

Google Books:

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Search the full text of thousands of books and read the complete book online for books that are out of copyright and/or books that the publisher has given permission. In most cases you will be reading from an actual scan of the original book. The goal of the project is to help people find books and information that they normally would not be able to because the book is permanently out of print.

Pros: Allows you to limit your search to complete books rather than books that only have a single reference page in the system. Even the books with limited pages help you find books that you can then order through interlibrary loan or through a dealer.

Cons: Most of the books that are complete are so old that they are not of much use to researchers looking for current information.


Google News:

Search for current articles and events from thousands of newspapers world-wide. You can even create your own personalized RSS feeds to download news specific to your area of interest directly to your desktop as it happens.

Pros: The RSS feature is a great addition to your desktop, especially if connected with a personalized Google search page. Want to see articles related to teaching physics? Set up an RSS feed with those words and get caught up on what is happening in your field.

Cons: Text search is very literal. You will often have articles suggested that have little or no relevance to the actual topic.



Google Alerts:

Google will send you one email each day with a catalog of news articles that match your specific criteria.

Pros: Very handy if you are researching a specific topic.

Cons: Very literal and pulls in some information that is irrelevant to your research.

Google Translate:

If you find an article, a web site, or even a paper letter written in another language Google will translate it for you on the fly. If your search discovers a page written in German but you think it has information you vitally need, Google will translate the page and display it as if it had been written in English to begin with.

Pros: Very handy

Cons: Often mangles the syntax of a sentence.

Using Google as a Plagiarism Detector:

If you suspect that a student has plagiarized in some way type part of the suspected text into Google's search. Chances are if the student copy and pasted it from the web he probably found it on Google to being with.  In addition to the standard Google search you should also search using the other tools listed previously.  The standard Google search will not always pull in information from these other tools.

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