Despite claims that Google is evil, most people love and use Google and Google’s products.
Students can use Google to get things done and stay organized through the semesters and beyond.
I began using Google products in earnest in 2005 and I haven’t looked back! All of the products listed are products that I have personally used, plus tips and tricks for how to use them.
Please add any additional tips into the comments – let’s make this a great Google-y-goo resource!
Email: Gmail – www.gmail.com
- You can sign up for a free account by visiting www.gmail.com. This login can also be used to access all of Google’s other services, such as Calendar and Notebook.
- This is a powerful information warehouse. You can even set up your school email address to forward to Gmail and utilize Gmail as your one-stop email stop. Directions for using Google as your universal email account can be found at Google Tutor.
- Be sure to set up your email to look professional – no “hotmama211” or “dudeigotadell”. Get 8 great tips at Productivity 501, especially # 1-5 and 8.
Information Filtering: Google Reader – www.google.com/reader
- Instead of visiting 50 sites a day in search of information, subscribe to their RSS feeds in Google Reader. Look for the little orange symbol on websites that you frequent – either on the site itself or in the toolbar. Some sites may customize the colors to fit their design, or not have the image at all – but look for the words RSS, feed and/or subscribe to find the feeds. Press the link or button and follow the directions to subscribe via Google Reader.
- Looking for an extra information boost? Productivity 501 has a comprehensive list of Free Academic Podcasts. Subscribe to them in your Google Reader, so you can get updates to download to your computer. Open Culture has foreign language podcasts that can be extremely helpful if you are taking language classes and need some extra practice.
- Some of the best feeds for students are Hack College, Lifehacker and Lifehack.org. Just don’t waste too much time learning how to save time with these websites, instead of just getting your work done!
- Read more about how to maximize your Google Reader with Get More Out of Google Reader from lifehack.org.
- Firefox Users, see Subscribing a feed in Google Reader using Firefox for instructions on how to bypass the Google Homepage/Google Reader option.
Keep track of everything: Google Calendar – www.google.com/calendar
- Create different calendars for different things or areas of your life. I have calendars for class schedules, work schedules, thepinkc posting schedules, activities/extracurricular activities, TV shows, and another for holidays and birthdays. Because you can color code the calendars, I can see at a glance what I have to do each day.
- Set up email and/or SMS notifications for your Google Calendar! This will save you some time and keep you on task. I have a daily agenda emailed to me, as well as SMS reminders 3 hours before an event.
- Integrate your Google Calendar account with the online “things to do” list, Remember the Milk. Add your assignments to Remember the Milk and get access to them via Google Calendar.
Take notes: Google Notebook – www.google.com/notebook
- Organize electronic notes for papers, then print them later for reference.
- Use the Google Notebook/Firefox Sidebar Hack or Firefox Extension to take notes while surfing the Internet.
- Collaborate on group projects with the sharing feature.
- Note: I do not recommend that students take notes on their computers or via Google Notebook for class. There are benefits to writing your notes by hand. Consider typing your written notes into Google Docs and Spreadsheets later!
Create and maintain documents: Google Docs and Spreadsheets – www.docs.google.com
- Upload files that you create on your computer and share with group members on group projects, or for a friend to proofread for you. Share your class notes that you’ve typed up.
- Backup your files on Google Docs and Spreadsheets. Sync them often, to ensure you have the most current copies both in Google Docs and Spreadsheets and on your computer. You can also use these documents from any computer with an Internet connection!
- Use Google Docs and Spreadsheets as your main word processor and spreadsheet program. It has most of the features that you would find in established programs, but it is free!
Find Information: Google Search – www.google.com
- Google’s search feature is its most popular. It has even spawned new verbs, such as “google”. No one searches for information online anymore – we google it. However, most of us don’t get the most out of Google. Search Google Like An Expert can help you begin utilizing Google to its fullest.
- Download the Google Cheat Sheet and post it near your computer, so you can always have the search tips handy.
Share Photos: Picasa – www.picasaweb.google.com
- Picasa offers the ability to upload photos and videos and share and collaborate with friends and family.
- Uploading is as easy as one click of your mouse.
- There is desktop software that can be downloaded, to make the uploading process easier.
Geek’s Paradise: Google Code – www.code.google.com
- If you are into software or tinkering with Google’s products and services, check out Google Code. You will find all kinds of goodies to help you enjoy your online time – and offline time, too, with Google Gears!
- Upload your own code and share with the world. Collaborate with other users to create useful programs and widgets.
- Search via Google Scholar for all types of resources for your papers and projects – including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, abstracts and articles, from academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories, universities and other scholarly organizations.
- Search for books that you might want to buy or borrow from your local library with Google Books. This search engine permits you to see full text of books!
There are tens of Google products to help you become more productive at school – test them out and find the best combination for you.
Coming tomorrow: Coordinate your social schedule the easy way
This special feature, Geek Girl, appears every Monday. Subscribe to the Geek Girl feed to get new installments in your feed reader. This post is also a part of the 2007 Back to School series is designed to help students be more successful! New articles will be posted daily for two weeks, beginning August 13, 2007. Subscribe to the Back to School feed to get new installments in your feed reader.