Thursday, September 11, 2008

Google Docs Integrates a Thesaurus and More

Since the school resumed in August every new document that I have created has been created using Google Docs. (For the record, all of my slide shows are created on Zoho). I like a lot of things about Google Docs including the clean looking user interface and the ability to easily go back to view the revisions I've made. Today, Google announced a new batch of features for Google Docs that will make Google Docs an even better tool for students.

Highlighting the list of new features for Google Docs is an integrated thesaurus, dictionary, and encyclopedia tool. It is a simple tool to use. Simply highlight a word in your document then select "look up word" from the "tools" drop-down menu. From there you can find a synonym, a definition, or an Encyclopedia Britannica reference to your selected word. Also worth noting is a new search for images tool integrated into Google Docs. Just like using the thesaurus tool, simply highlight a word in your document then select "search for images" from the "tools" menu.
Here is a screen shot of what the thesaurus tool looks like when I highlighted the word "moxie" in a document.

Applications for Education
The integrated thesaurus and dictionary tools will be helpful to students for all of the same reasons that students need those resources when writing. The benefit for teachers is that by having those tool integrated into Google Docs students never have to take their attention away from their documents to search the Internet or go find a physical dictionary or thesaurus. Suggested synonyms and definitions appear in a pop-up window that floats over the document you're working on.

Iterasi Becomes a More Helpful Internet Research Tool

Iterasi, a resource I wrote about back in January, has launched a new feature that will make an even more useful tool for conducting searches and bookmarking pages. For those unfamiliar with Iterasi, it is a essentially a bookmarking service that saves pages in the status they're in when you initially bookmark it. Iterasi's service solves the problem that occurs when you bookmark a page only to return to it later to find that the content has changed. Until now you had to save the pages you found using the Iterasi service. The new upgrade to Iterasi lets users import their existing bookmarks from Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Delicious.

Applications for Education
Iterasi is a great service for students to use when conducting Internet research. I can't count the number of times a student has said to me, "I can't find it" when referring to a website on which they had previously found something useful. Pages saved using Iterasi eliminate this problem by saving the page in the same state that a student found it in originally.

Below is the Iterasi demo video.

This is a short interview with Iterasi's CEO Pete Grillo.