Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Google makes news visual and pictures contextual

Two interesting releases yesterday from search engine giant Google, both of which may be useful in educational settings.

The first is the Google News Timeline. Essentially, type in a search term, decide how you want to see the content displayed (by decade, year, month or week) and hey presto, a timelines of related news stories appears on screen. This will be of great use to History teachers, but it's application should be widespread across different curricula areas.

The second tool is called Similar Images. It allows users to search for pictures based on analysis of the image itself, rather than the tags associated with them. It's rather a neat demonstration of how we're moving to a visual rather than a text based culture. It works well, and should be useful not just to Art/Design students, but anyone seeking images for presentations and the like. 

Another Google Labs utility that may useful is called Audio Indexing. This piece of software enables users to search within the audio of YouTube videos for specific text references. It then takes the user to that point in the video. It's quite remarkable to see/hear in action, and has all sorts of possible uses in education, not least for those teaching students with visual impairments, for whom YouTube has now become a massive searchable audio library of content.

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