Product Review of Google Doodles
Google doodles famously appear in place of the Google logo at the top of the Google.com home page. They’re Google’s creative version of This Day in History, representing significants moments, people, and accomplishments through an artistic re-creation of the Google logo. The site itself has an archive of more than 2,000 doodles that can be easily searched by date or topic. Click on a doodle to read information about the event, moment, or person; some doodles also show sketches of previous versions of the doodle. At the bottom of the page, there are links to other doodles that are related or happened on the same date. Each doodle page also includes a map that shows where in the world the doodle appeared. Students can click on those regions and see other doodles popular in that part of the world. Beyond the company-created doodles, Google sponsors an annual contest that learners can enter by creating a doodle responding to a theme. Entries are organized by grade level and state, and the national winner earns a $30,000 college scholarship and a $50,000 school technology grant. Contest rules and a FAQ are provided on the site, along with teacher guides that can be used for the national contest or just for a fun classroom contest.
There’s no doubt most learners will have seen Google doodles; however, they probably haven’t explored many of the doodles and learned about the events and people they represent. Teachers may want to use Google doodles as bell ringers to get the learners talking, thinking, drawing, or writing, or they may want to integrate them into a lesson plan on a relevant topic. For example, a doodle commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday could spur a quick-write or be used within a presentation representing some of MLK’s accomplishments. As a class or individually, learners can explore the background information provided about the doodle to add depth to their understanding of an event or person. In addition, artistic learners may want to participate in the annual Doodle 4 Google contest that can earn winners scholarships and money toward their school. There are teacher guides available to help facilitate this experience.
Google doodles can be a fun, creative way to introduce content in the classroom. There’s just something compelling about seeing the image and then finding out what it represents and how it connects to today’s date. Simply showing learners that there’s more to the doodles than just the image should spark a curiosity, and will likely lead to learners digging into the doodles on their own time. Encouraging learners to doodle themselves, setting up a structured lesson that incorporates doodles, or actually taking time in the curriculum to participate in the Doodle 4 Google contest (whether it’s the annual national contest or one you hold yourself) are all valuable educational uses. Just take note that the information provided with each doodle is the tip of the iceberg, and you’ll need to do some extra work to make it a substantive learning opportunity. However, if you’re using it as a daily bell ringer, Google doodles provide just about all you need.
With that said, educators should consider the ethical concerns of using a product like this that’s basically a marketing tool for Google. One the one hand, the Google search engine is a ubiquitous part of our lives and getting learners to dig deeper into the doodles can spark daily interest in historical figures and events they’re unfamiliar with. On the other hand, getting learners to draw creative interpretations of the Google logo, or just fostering a fascination with Google’s logo, could cross a line into commercialism for many educators.
Overall User Consensus About the App
Students will likely already know about, and enjoy, Google doodles. They’ll enjoy getting more context in class and creating their own doodles.
Curriculum and Instruction
Doodles offer an accessible if slightly shallow window into history and different cultures.
Doodle 4 Google has nicely made but thin teacher guides, but that’s where the classroom support ends. Each doodle has background information, and some include examples of how the doodle was created.