Let's begin with the search engine. Even as powerful as it is, it only penetrates about 30% of the 'deep web'; the massively complex connection of pages, files and data. To be more effective in penetrating this surface layer, we can learn a few easy tricks here.
Howie DiBlasi was one of ISTE's (International Society for Technology in Education) keynote speakers and I recently listened to his session of effective web searches using Google.
In the spirit of the participatory web 2.0 culture, he offers many of his presentations and notes for educators to use. Check out his web site here and consider following him on Twitter. He is a wealth of information and experiences.
Richard Bryn who blogs at Free Technology for Teachers is my favorite blogger for hot tech tips. He has several great guides on using Google tools and you can find them here.
I'm including my own presentation on some key tips for effective searching as well. You may use this presentation but please credit the author - me!
I recommend teachers and students use Google Scholar and Books when they are researching a topic. Google Alerts will act as your own personal assistant and return information to you while you are busy doing something else. Google forms can easily be embedded into your web site, blog or wiki. Some teachers even use these for quizzes. Here is an example of what I am doing at the beginning of this school year.
After my students fill out the form, the information is sent to my Google docs inbox. Their responses are private and even include a time stamp. When the next student comes to the wiki page, they don't see the responses of the previous student.
There are so many ways to use Google and its products. Take some time to learn a few basics and your students will thank you for it.