Google Bingo

As part of my job this year, I have taken on the task of delivering six emerging tech sessions for library staff between October and March, one a month. The purpose of these sessions nominally to introduce the staff to interesting applications or uses of applications on the web, and then talk about them. I want to make these sessions part of the solution rather than part of the problem; it’s really easy for people to get overwhelmed and intimidated by the galaxy of web 2.0 flash and dazzle, so I’m going out of my way to make these sessions easy and fun. The idea is to create some awareness, some understanding of the new directions the web is taking, and keep that knowledge in your back pocket as you go about the rest of your work day. The best stuff we do around here as training gets us together, playing with something, laughing, and generally having a good time. The series is called P.L.O.T.: Playing and Learning Online Together.

Today I delivered the fourth in the series: Google Bingo. I’ve been asked a lot of questions about this on Twitter, and since I can’t adequately describe it in 140 characters, I’ll describe it here.

The point of the session is to create some awareness about how to do advanced searching in a standard Google search bar, and to point out some neat additional features. Rather than stand up and lecture about it, I created 10 short (~1 minute) videos. Each video contains a pink square with a bingo word on it. I scattered these videos on workstations throughout the library. I created a map of these stations, and created a set of bingo cards containing the words from the videos. Instructions to staff are to follow their own path through the map as they see fit, with a friend or on their own, watch each video and look for the bingo word. Once they see the bingo word, they can cross it off on their bingo card and move on. Once they finished, we all met back up to talk about the experience.

This went extraordinarily well. Everyone reported learning things they hadn’t known about google services or google search, and they all had a good time wandering around through the library. Unfortunately I spent so much time thinking about the details of this (finding the computers to do this, making videos and maps and bingo cards, making sure computers didn’t fall asleep on me, etc.) that I failed to think AT ALL about how to spur discussion afterward. I do each session twice, so that’s a lesson learned. We had some fun reports about ways to use things or things people wished they’d known earlier, so it wasn’t a disaster, but I wish I had thought of offering a bit more at the end.

I’ll be posting all the videos tomorrow, if you’re curious. There’s far more I could have done, I just thought 10 was probably more than enough. I had no idea how long it would take everyone to get through it, but it only took about 30 minutes for everyone to make it all the way through, not the 45 minutes I had allotted. But they didn’t get bored, there was lots of discovery along the way, and I’ve gotten lots of great feedback.

So that’s Google Bingo!