Online Research with Google Notebook

A February 2007 column for TCEA's TechEdge magazine

·
Citation
PDF, XML

Abstract

Despite the proliferation of web 2.0 technologies and more tools for interactive, desktop videoconferencing than you can shake a mouse at, Internet research remains one of the most common uses for computer technologies in U.S. schools today. The process of copying and pasting information, source URLs, and photographs for a report or multimedia presentation is often a laborious process. Multi-tasking between a web browser and a word processor when conducting online research requires a large number of mouse clicks for each piece of information to be saved appropriately. Thankfully, the availability of the free, web-based Google Notebook program (www.google.com/notebook) can dramatically streamline the research process. Instead of multi-tasking, users can conduct all their research from the comfort of their web browser! In this article, we’ll explore ten reasons for using Google Notebook for online research as well as some tips and tricks.


Getting Started

To use Google Notebook, visit the Google website and register for a free account if you do not have one already. After logging in successfully, visit the Google Notebook homepage (www.google.com/notebook) and click to install the free browser extension. This is available for Internet Explorer 6 and 7 for Windows-based computers, and the FireFox web browser (www.mozilla.com) for Windows and Macintosh-based computers. (Macintosh Safari users can view and create notebooks, but not highlight and right-click/control-click selected text and images to add them to notebooks.) The Google Notebook browser extension adds NOTE THIS (GOOGLE NOTEBOOK) as a contextual menu item when users right-click or control-click something in their browser.

Users can create as many Google notebooks as desired, and either keep them private, share them with specific people (inviting them to collaborate using their email address) or sharing a read-only version with the world on a public webpage. After creating a new Google notebook or selecting a desired notebook to be “active,” users can highlight text and images they want to save and either right-cick (on Windows) or control-click (on Macintosh) to save the highlighted material into the active Google notebook. This is the process of NOTING THIS in Google Notebook.

Saved items in the notebook can be reordered, and additional text can be inserted as notes. Subtitles and dividers can be inserted as well. Think of Google notebook as the 21st century notecard stack for research projects.

Reasons to Use Google Notebook

1. Accessibility: Since Google notebook pages are saved on the public Internet, learners can access them from Internet connected computers both at school and at home. No need to worry about emailing documents back and forth or bringing a USB flash-drive from home to school (which could potentially carry viruses.) Web-based resources like Google notebooks are accessible everywhere the Internet is available and the Google notebook site is not blocked by a content filter.

2. Citation Aid: The source URL (website) of the saved text or image is automatically cited and saved to Google Notebook for later use in a bibliography or works cited page of the report. At the end of a research project, students using Google Notebook won’t say “I forgot to save the website address where I found that” because the source will already by saved, along with the date it was added to the digital notebook.

3. A Researcher’s Dream: Google Notebook can be used for many different purposes, and is especially well-suited for collaborative research, but it is ideal for harvesting images and collecting research project sources / quotations. No more multi-tasking between a word processor and web browser and worrying about where a file is saved on the local computer or school network.

4. Formatting Options: Text saved into a Google notebook can include rich text formatting and hyperlinking. 21st century research projects should be created with 21st century web-based tools, and Google notebook certainly fits that bill to a T.

5. Flexible Organization: Learners can add section titles to separate different parts of a notebook, and also create multiple notebooks for different projects or topics. Google notebooks are free to create and use, so it is up to the researcher to determine what organizational framework makes the most sense and will best accomplish the instructional goals of the assignment.

6. Drag and Drop: Google Notebook users can move notes and section titles by dragging and dropping them in their browser. Highlighted notes and images are added to the active Google notebook sequentially, but after they are included they can easily be reordered as desired.

7. Collaborative: Google Notebook offers collaborative options for learners: Let others privately view or jointly author a notebook. Invite them using their email address and the “SHARING OPTIONS” link in the upper right corner of every Google Notebook document. Unlike a wiki, however, Google Notebooks do NOT track a revision history and contributors to allow users to “flip back” to a previous version.

8. Publishable: Text and images included in a Google Notebook can be immediately posted to the web. Contents are also printable from any computer and user authorized to at least view the notebook. If this sharing option is selected, each Google Notebook will have two versions: the VIEW (read-only) version and the editable version for authorized authors.

9. Searchable: After saving text into a Google notebook, the author or others can use a search query to find instances of text in the document. This is a Google product, after all, so the availability of a search option shouldn’t be a surprise!

10. Free: Perhaps best of all, the amazing power of Google Notebook is free. There are not any hidden charges or “pro” options, all the features of Google Notebook are available to all users without cost.

Tips and Tricks

If you have installed the optional browser-extension for Google Notebook, a “mini-notebook” will be available when a user double click’s the icon in the lower right corner of any browser window. (The text button reads: OPEN NOTEBOOK.) Text can be edited within the mini-notebook, and saved text can be expanded or collapsed within different sub-sections, making it easier to quickly move through saved clippings.

Section titles always are added at the bottom of a Google Notebook, so researchers might consider adding section names first before starting research. Than as text and images are saved, each one can be moved into the appropriate category or topic using either the mini-notebook window or a larger (standard) Google Notebook webpage view.

Make sure to select the desired notebook FIRST before saving text or images as clippings. Selected content is always saved to the ACTIVE Google Notebook, and only one notebook can be active at a time.

Add additional notes and hyperlinks as appropriate to a Google Notebook. To edit an existing entry in a notebook, simply double click it to enter the editing mode.

Just as users should in word processing documents or multimedia presentations, Google Notebook authors and reseearchers should use text styles, colors, fonts, sizes and links to make text in saved “clips” communicate more effectively. Do not use style options if they detract from the message and purpose of the notebook.

Consider using Google Notebook as the format for an assigned research paper’s bibliography or works-cited page. If you do, all referenced quotations and images will be easily linkable right from the Google Notebook page which is already online! (Those wanting to access the notebook will either have to be invited to view or collaborate on the document, or the entire notebook will have to be published publicly under SHARING OPTIONS.)

By default, the web addresses for Google Notebooks are very long and difficult to copy down and retype. If someone wants to share the address of a Google Notebook, consider using the free service TinyURL (http://tinyurl.com) to create a shorter, shareable web address. Access the notes and links for this article as a Google Notebook by visiting http://tinyurl.com/2vz4zv.

Refer to the official Google Notebook frequently-asked-questions site for more tips! (www.google.com/googlenotebook/faq.html)

Image Citation and Article History

Featured image licensed CC-BY. Pietro & Silvia. (2006, May 16). Google Notebook. Welcome to Flickr – Photo Sharing. Retrieved May 26, 2012, from http://www.flickr.com/photos/googlisti/147440629/

This article was originally published on http://www.wtvi.com/teks/06_07_articles/google-notebook.html

Unfortunately, Google Notebook was officially discontinued in the fall of 2011.

Leave a Comment