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The internet has grown from being a tight-knit network of computers used for academic research and government defense projects, to being a major component in each of our lives. Today we use the internet to communicate with friends and strangers, do research on practically any topic, and for information and entertainment.

While many internet companies exist, few have truly revolutionized the way we use the network. Companies like Apple and Microsoft certainly influence what we use for work, but they’ve done little in the way of influencing change in how we work. These companies have done a great job of making our existing work go digital, bringing many benefits to where and when we decide to work.

One internet company that has truly revolutionized the way we work is Google.  More than any other internet company, Google has helped make the web useful, not just fun and interesting. The products they produce have truly changed the way we work, not just where or when we work.

Google has especially had a great impact on education. Teachers, students, parents, and administrators have successfully used Google’s tools to improve learning.

Today we’ll take a close look at just how Google has changed, and will continue to change the way we live our online lives. Today we’ll examine Google tools.

Google Intro

Google began its life as an Internet search engine in the late 1990s.  It became well known for being the best search engine on the web.  People could visit the website, enter their search, and get back search results that were relevant to the information being search.  Even back in those early days, Google prided itself on its ability to use complex mathematical algorithms to work its search magic. 

But the genius of Google’s founders saw great potential in their engineers’ abilities, and in the future of the internet.  They knew that the web would fundamentally change the way we live, work, and play, and they wanted to be a part of that.  The Google engineers began working on new software that would make our lives much easier. 

To understand the magic behind Google’s powerful tools, you first have to understand one of the most important parts of the equation: the ability to hold data on a vast array of servers.  This has become known as cloud computing.

Cloud Computing

Simply put, cloud computing is when massive amounts of user data is stored and manipulated on huge internet servers.  Users can upload their data to a third-party server, the cloud, and access that information from any other computer connected to the network. 
Users can also manipulate or create new data in the cloud.  They can create documents, manipulate photos, save software settings, and lots more.  All of this is saved in the cloud.

There are many benefits to cloud computing. 

First of all, users have the ability to leverage the cloud’s computing power.  In the old days, computer users would need to continually upgrade their equipment and add memory and storage to keep up with software upgrades.  Today, upgrades happen automatically in the cloud, with no interaction or hassle for the user.  As long as you can run a web browser on your computer, you can take advantage of the constantly updated benefits of software running in the cloud.

Another benefit of cloud computing is the ability to reduce computing costs.  For individuals, this means saving your data online, in effect, saving money on computers and storage.  Users can also backup their important documents in the cloud, helping to avoid data loss if your computer crashes.  For companies or schools, this means saving hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars on servers and storage.  All of a school’s data can be saved online, reducing equipment and personnel costs.

Another benefit of cloud computing is the ability to collaborate using the data on the server.  In the old days, someone would work on a document using software on their own computer, and then e-mailing it to collaborators for revisions.  The process would be clunky and inefficient to say the least.  Today, someone can create a document in the cloud, and allow others to manipulate the same document in real time.  Collaboration becomes a snap when everyone can access the same information in real time.  An example of this type of collaboration can be seen in Google Docs, and in the well-known online encyclopedia Wikipedia. 

Google has taken cloud computing to a new level by creating revolutionary software to run in the cloud.  These software products are packed with features, and are useful for people in any field, including business and education.  Let’s take a look at the most popular tools that Google has to offer.

Google Tools

Over the years, Google has worked to develop new internet technologies that include, but also expand on the search tools it’s known for. They’ve developed tools to help people communicate, work more efficiently, and do better research. The best part is that these tools are all offered free of charge by the company.

Google can offer their tools free of charge because they earn revenue by placing non-intrusive ads in the tools. The tools also work on any computer with an internet connection and a modern web browser. This means that the tools can be used by just about anyone. The tools are used by just about everyone, from students and teachers, to lawyers and small business. In fact, this video was created with the help of some of these tools!

Let’s take a closer look at each of the tools Google offers. This is just a starting point, since new tools are added all of the time, and existing tools are constantly being updated.