Monday, January 18, 2010

Google Jockey - a simple step in the opposite direction

A teacher I was working with today asked me about a simple thing she could do. She has a new data projector in her history classroom. Like many teachers, she feels pressured to create presentations to show in her students. I told her the best thing she can do it put the technology in the hands of the kids and appoint a Google Jockey each day when they are discussing or looking at notes.

To the best of my knowledge, the term originates in 2006. A Google Jockey is a student who has Google open and looks up terms, ideas and events as the class is working. This frees the teachers to work at the front facilitating discussion and provides the other students with visuals and ideas to extend what is happening in class.

4 great tools for playing with Google in this way:
  • Use the Wonder Wheel to find related terms or ideas to the one you are discussing
  • Pull up Google Earth and search for resources connected to your topic - you can find maps, stats and historical images.
  • Do a standard image search and show pictures of the people, places and ideas you are discussing. Be sure to set your filter to strict filtering to avoid inappropriate images.
  • Current events? Use time lines, twitter searches and comparison sites to give a real sense of what is being said by people or news organizations around the world.
Collegiate Renewal is about creating opportunities for students to be deeply engaged and be responsible and caring citizens in our community, nation and world. A google jockey models some of the skills to be a life long learner, and the stream of visualizations, different world views and people's thoughts help us really be a part of something beyond the classroom. A google jockey also meets the needs of our digital native students, who prefer image and video to text and want many rapid pieces of information.

If we don't think about how to use our data projectors, they become just another tool that the teacher uses to transmit to students. A google jockey is a simple step in the opposite direction.


  1. This is a really great idea and I could see it being a really easy way to add a bit of a historical reference to my lessons. If, of course, I remember to book the projector!

  2. I always have my iPhone with me and often look things up on Google, Wikipedia and IMDB to feed a conversation. Technology is a great thing when it is used to facilitate the group instead of escaping from them -- for which there is also a time and place ;)