Sunday, February 6, 2011

Google Alerts: A Tool for Customizing an Administrator’s Flow of Information

In my earlier post, I discussed how Google Reader gives me the ability to control all the information on the Internet that is vying for my attention. There’s another tool from Google that assists me in my information control measures and that is Google Alerts.

I won’t take the time to instruct in how to set up and use Google Alerts, because there are some resources that do that much better than I can:

I use Google Alerts to keep up with the information flow about education policy, education reform, and technology. I would encourage educators and specifically administrators to take advantage of this tool for the following reasons:

  • Google Alerts allows me to gather information on topics of interest automatically. For example, one of my current areas of interest is “cell phone use in the classroom.” I have added that search phrase and variations of it to collect news articles, blog posts, and other web items about that topic. An email arrives in my inbox every day with links to recent information collected. Google does the work of collecting the links, all I need to do is sort through for relevance and interest.
  • Google Alerts gives me the ability to see the latest on select topics. One of my favorite topics recently has been ESEA reauthorization. With Google Alerts, I receive an email update of Google’s latest finds on that topic every day. It gives me the means to follow the latest postings about what the Obama administration is doing with reauthorization of ESEA. The links that Google Alerts provides me each are the latest postings on the topics I’ve chosen.
  • Google alerts allows me to follow a number of topic streams at once. There are a great deal of things happening in education at the current moment. Trying to follow those multiple streams of information can be difficult. With Google Alerts, I type in all the topics I want to currently follow, and each day I receive emails with links to items under those topics. I can follow as many topics as I want. The greater danger is junking up your email inbox with so many Google Alerts you don’t have time to sort through them all.

In combination with Google Reader and Google Alerts, I can effectively manage a large share of the information I want to follow. With Google Alerts, I can effectively tell Google which items I want to pay closer attention to, and it delivers those items to me.

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