How Google’s Free Power Searching Class Could Establish You As a Professional Developer

Book cover for Abilock, Fontichiaro, and Harada's GROWING SCHOOLS in a mashup created by PhotoFunia

Book cover edited using Photofunia

This past week at ALA Annual in Anaheim, Debbie Abilock, Vi Harada, and I, along with several contributors, toasted the publication of the new book Growing Schools: Librarians as Professional Developers. The book includes essays by over a dozen contributors about how they built momentum in their schools and communities using a variety of professional development strategies. It has been a work two years in the making, and although the book is out, we feel like our beliefs about the power of librarians as professional developers have yet to peak. Many librarians could have much more impact if they focused on building the information literacy capacity of their teachers instead of stressing about reaching every student.

Today, Google announced a first: an enormous, free online course (known as a MOOC – a massive, open, online course) about one of our favorite topics: power searching! Lessons will be released beginning July 10, and you’ll have two weeks in which to complete the tasks. If you complete the lessons and assessments, you’ll earn a certificate of completion.

From the Google blog:

You may already be familiar with some shortcuts for Google Search, like using the search box as a calculator or finding local movie showtimes by typing [movies] and your zip code. But there are many more tips, tricks and tactics you can use to find exactly what you’re looking for, when you most need it.

Today, we’ve opened registration for Power Searching with Google, a free, online, community-based course showcasing these techniques and how you can use them to solve everyday problems. Our course is aimed at empowering you to find what you need faster, no matter how you currently use search. For example, did you know that you can search for and read pages written in languages you’ve never even studied? Identify the location of a picture your friend took during his vacation a few months ago? How about finally identifying that green-covered book about gardening that you’ve been trying to track down for years? You can learn all this and more over six 50-minute classes.

Lessons will be released daily starting on July 10, 2012, and you can take them according to your own schedule during a two-week window, alongside a worldwide community. The lessons include interactive activities to practice new skills, and many opportunities to connect with others using Google tools such as Google Groups, Moderator and Google+, including Hangouts on Air, where world-renowned search experts will answer your questions on how search works. Googlers will also be on hand during the course period to help and answer your questions in case you get stuck.

The project home page adds:

  • Registration is open from June 26, 2012 to July 16, 2012. We recommend that you register before the first class is released on July 10, 2012!
  • New classes will become available Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday starting on July 10, 2012 and ending on July 19, 2012.
  • Course-related activities will end on July 23, 2012.

So, here’s where my wheels started turning. Free online course + brand teachers love + librarians as professional developers = opportunity!

In many cases, the easiest way to get your feet wet as a PD leader is to offer to learn alongside your classroom colleagues. You don’t have to prepare materials, schedule things, set up the computer lab, or anything else. It doesn’t get any easier than that!

Maybe you could:

  • talk to district administration (hurry – some go on vacation in July) and register this online course in the computer’s PD system so participants can earn continuing education credits/hours for their involvement;
  • make yourself available for a few hours during the time of the course when colleagues could email, Skype, Google Hangout, or chat with they have questions;
  • offer to meet colleagues at a local coffee house (sometimes, that’s more relaxing than meeting at school) a few times during the course.

What else could you do with this opportunity? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Here’s the cool Trojan Horse part of things. We know that power searching will help build our colleagues’ search and evaluation skills, skills we value in our information literacy and research toolkits. Here’s an unprecedented chance to get that conversation going with teachers.

What do you say? How about registering and giving it a whirl? Meet you there!

One Response to “How Google’s Free Power Searching Class Could Establish You As a Professional Developer”

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