Google Notebook

http://www.google.com/notebook
What does it do?
Allows you to cut/paste or one-click post information from any web site or the site’s Google entry, along with notes that you write yourself.
My first reaction was: “Cute, but isn’t this just another way to do the same old thing. And given the latest news about the NSA commandeering phone records, not to mention the marketing industry possibilities, do I really want to store my “stuff” at Google’s site?”
Well, I have no answer for that question, but the utility itself works as advertised and can be quite handy.
Of particular interest, at least in terms of educational uses…


is the “public” notebook feature. You can set up multiple notebooks (each with multiple sections, if you like) and declare any of those notebooks to be public. You can then publish the (long…) URL for your public notebook. Better yet, the contents of that notebook goes into the Google public notebook search pool.
One of the perrenial complaints from teachers about students using the web for research is that “they don’t differntiate between good and bad sources.” One of the solutions is to create a webliography of good sources. An even better solution is to have the students create group webliographies. Del.icio.us is one way to do that, but the new Notebook utility seems to be an even better way. Students could create a notebook for a given project, then share it via the public feature.
Another use: culling/collecting images from the web. Several of the student web projects we encounter have students finding and using images from the web. Too often they find the images, copy them, but don’t note where the images came from (“…it was the fourth image on the third page that came up when I searched in Google…”). With Notebook, when you drag and drop an image into the notebook it also stores the URL. hooray!!
Like web sites, or even like blogs (albeit, they do have the comment feature), the public notebook is a “this is my thing–I’ll share it with you” application. This definitely has an impact on how users will perceive the information gathered therein. For group projects that need a more equitable sharing of responsibilities and ownership, a wiki with its “this is our thing–we build it together” model might be better. However, for what it does, Notebook seems to do it well.

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