Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Google... Where are they going and how does it effect the classroom?
Over the past few years, Google has increased its influence over the computing habits of most people. This influence has been extended in several different areas. There were rumors that Google was going to build their own PC and use Wal-Mart to market and sell it. (read previous blog post.) These rumors turned out to be unfounded, but what Google has done has extended into three major areas. The first initiative has been to create an online video library, allowing television networks and NBA to sell content to individuals. Secondly, Google has created the 'Google Pack' of free open source software for individuals to use. In this same vein, there are rumors that Google will launch an open source operating system (like Linux) and Office productivity suite (like Microsoft Office). Thirdly, Google has launched several municipal Wi-Fi initiatives that will provide free access to the Internet. The net effect of all of these initiatives would be to create an opportunity that would allow someone to purchase a low cost PC ($150) and have access to a wealth of media.
How can Google do all of this and still make money? Targeted advertizing in the margins and headers allows Google to create a strong and sustainable funding stream. The tool they use to do this is called 'AdSense.' Last year it is estimated that Google made $3,2 billion and will make more in 2006. They are in direct competition with eBay and Amazon over online retailing and increased their share of that business by 28% in 2005. They have launched a new service called 'Google Base' that competes with 'Craig's List' and their co-founder, Larry Page, has made it his goal to 'change the world.' So, there isn't a worry that Google will instantly dissappear. News organizations world-wide seem to feel threatened by Google, with both the BBC's "The World According to Google" and an ABC News feature report having been released in the past week, which you can see by clicking on the links. Google is also in the middle of a fight with the U.S. government over records.
The question that most of you are asking is: How does this effect me in the classroom?
Google has done more over the last year to make the content over the Internet accessible to you and your students. The issue of the Digital Divide has to be addressed in some meaningful way and Google has been a leader in this area. (See previous posts regarding municipal Wi-Fi.) Taking into account the applications listed above and Google's efforts in municipal Wi-Fi, most teacher's can feel confident that 70% of their students have access to these tools and the number of students that will have access will continue to increase over the next few years. Within the next three years, the number of students that will have computers and access to the Internet at home will increase to close to 90%. (See Recent Municipal Wi-Fi Post) This will allow teachers to become more connected to their students in ways that enhance the classroom experience, not detract from it. Capuchino teachers have had "School Loop" for the past year, and many have used it well, but we are still scratching the surface of the potential uses for School Loop and other educational technology tools. On the other hand, students have already embraced many tools that have potential educational uses. (iPods and Blogs-MySpace) One of the things we must recognize is that teachers are 'digital immigrants' and students are 'digital natives.' A recent study stated that teenagers are much more optimistic about innovation than adults and there is a growing number of students who prefer to take distance learning classes over being in the classroom.
Our job as teachers is to model the appropriate and ethical use of technology, encouraging students to become inventive and innovative. Gone are the days where teachers had complete control over the activities that students engage in to complete the assignments they have in class. We are moving in that direction, think back to 6 years ago and the amount of technology that was part of your classroom on a daily basis? How has it changed? Fifty-nine percent of teachers would consider using games as an aid to student learning. Because of these factors teachers, eventhough they are content masters, must become guides for each student's journey to their own education.