Google Jockeys

The Educause Learning Initiative has a fantastic “7 things you should know about” piece on Google Jockeying. I’d never heard of this practice before. Basically, it involves designating one student during a class to act as the “Google Jockey.” The jockey “surfs the Internet for terms, ideas, or Web sites mentioned by the presenter or related to the topic at hand. A screen displays the jockey’s searches for all participants to see.”

The practice allows for spontaneous development of a topic in class based on what the jockey can dig up. And the ELI handout suggests, the practice might result in a “true ‘back channel’ taking place as a corollary to the primary lecture without affecting it directly.” This is the kind of back channel activity that I was really hoping to foster in Steve Greenlaw’s globalization class. I wonder how we could use the shoutbox we set up in that class to formalize this kind of practice and channel it into something more meaningful. . .

5 thoughts on “Google Jockeys”

  1. Well, now that you and Gene have both blogged about this, I guess I really ought to read the ELI piece. 🙂 I think the whole idea is beyond way cool. The idea that we’re all researching and thinking together, then aggregating/displaying the activity so that wonderful kinds of reflection and recursion occur, is wonderful to contemplate. The backchannel at the recent NMC/MacArthur Foundation simulcast was something like this, though it could be raised to the next level if Google Jockeying were added to the mix.

    Soon we’ll have that magic drawing board where we all write together. Your dream will arrive. It’s a cool dream.

  2. Interesting–sounds like a great introduction of a human aggregator for a course. I wonder if practices such as this will spark the need for instruction and guidance about how to approach the task–I’ll have to read the article, but are there “Best Practices for Being a Google Jockey?”

    I’m especially intrigued by how the practice will develop in light of new ways to represent all the info that’s available beyond the user interface of Google. For example, the UI for is one that I’ve seen elsewhere (sorry, I can’t come up with another example), but it seems eminently ‘jockeyable’, but will require some practice and training to use effectively, I think.

  3. My concern about this builds on Patrick’s comments about how to approach the task. How much attention is the “Google Jockey” paying to the class discussion? [And how tempting to distract with that material, rather than add to or enrich the lecture/discussion…. Or is that just my personality?]

    Also, is there a benefit to doing this during class, as opposed to looking for such information before class starts and bringing it up in the lecture/discussion? [Other than looking up materials on topics brought up by discussion that were not considered before the period began….]

  4. Buiding again off Jeff (and, by the end of this reply, advocating for my favorite new technology), what kinds of tools are available to focus such jockeying to make it augment the class (either during or outside meeting times)? A list of the links from Google seems like the electronic equivalent of a bunch of post-it notes: invaluable in many ways, but also calling for some structure to get the most out of them. (Forgive me if I’ve just mis-represented the practice of Google Jockeying–I’m again writing without having read the original article).

    Since it’s Tuesday Nov. 7, I’ll cast a handful of votes for for a tool to focus , extend, and enrich Google Jockeying.

  5. Jeff–I would argue that we can already assume that students bringing laptops to class are probably using them in ways that distract their attention from the course material. So, I would suggest that some form of Google jockeying might allow us to harness that activity towards more constructive ends. That’ll be argument for now, at least. 😉

    Patrick–I completely agree that the success of this kind of activity rests to a large degree on the shoulders of the tools you choose. The ELI article does make it clear that Google isn’t the only tool of choice, and I would love to think about what the best-of-breed tool/environment could be to structure this kind of activity. . .So “Google Jockeying” just becomes shorthand for any kind of in-class activity in which the students are responsible for formally responding to and feeding information back into the class mix — using some technology that allows for, as you say, “focusing, extending, and enriching” the class interaction. Cool.

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