Free web tools can save time and effort for teachers

Worcester offered tech tips all educators can use.
Worcester offered tech tips all educators can use.

While technology can be a powerful educational tool, many teachers still worry that with the time it takes to learn how to use technology, and then implement it in the classroom, it’s just not worth the effort. But thanks to Tammy Worcester, one of the Jan. 14 keynote speakers at the Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC) in Orlando, technology just got an “easy” button.

Worcester, an instructional technology specialist for the Educational Services and Staff Development Association of Central Kansas (ESSDACK) and author of many resource guides for educators, has become a hit with teachers looking to learn more about technology integration, thanks to her web site “Tammy’s Technology Tips for Teachers.”

“I like to find unique and creative ways to use traditional computer tools in the classroom,” said Worcester. “Many times I’m running around doing so many things, it just makes sense to know what little tips can save me time and what free online resources can help me save time, too. I’m here today to help you discover what’s helped me [from] day to day.”

Free Google tools

iGoogle, located at the top of the Google home page (available with a free Google account), is one tool that Worcester uses daily.

With iGoogle, users can create a personalized portal of information by having all of their daily visited web sites on one page.

“Just click on iGoogle, and you’ll have the ability to add your favorite web sites into one page. By personalizing my iGoogle [page], I have my horoscopes, workplace newsletter, the weather, and more, all on one home page. It saves me [from] scrounging around the internet to find them. You can also add gadgets and many applications.”

One tool that sparked the interest of many attendees was, a Google-owned tool.

With, all a user has to do to create a blog is input a title, a link name, and choose from a variety of templates.

“So many educators think, ‘If only I knew how or had the time to figure it out, I could have a blog,'” said Worcester, “and with this tool you can have a blog in about one minute.”

Users of Blogger can post to their blog straight from their iGoogle page if they want, as well as post text and photos right from their phone.

But the power of Google doesn’t end there, said Worcester: “There are so many uses for the search bar, but a lot of people just aren’t aware of them.”

For example, the Google toolbar works as a calculator. All a user has to do is enter in a mathematical equation in the Google toolbar and hit search.

The toolbar also can convert measurements–simply type the word “in” between measurements. For instance, to convert dollars to euros, type “$100 US dollars in euros.” The same applies to any measurements, including distance, temperature, and liquid measurements.

In addition, the toolbar acts as a dictionary–just type in the word “define,” followed by a colon and a space. For example, to define the word irony, type in “Define: irony.”

Search options can be more advanced than a simple enter and click. After performing a search, by clicking “show options,” a user can filter the search results by media format, pages already viewed, or pages not yet viewed.

Users also can click for a “timeline” search to look up information during a particular time for an event or person. For example, if teachers want to look up information on Langston Hughes, using the timeline function they could filter their results by news that occurred during certain time periods.

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