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Explore Tool in G Suite for Education

explore tool

The Explore Tool is in the lower right corner of any Docs, Slides, or Sheets document.

Google Apps for Education recently announced that it will now be known as G Suite for Education. Along with the rebranding, some other updates were made. Most notable for teachers, the Research Tool has been eliminated and replaced by the Explore Tool, which has some benefits and but also a significant shortcoming.

First, the bad news. Gone is the ability to add citations and footnotes directly into a document using the Research Tool. For teachers and students, this is an unfortunate setback. Being able to easily and quickly identify sources is an essential research skill. What used to be an onerous task, was made simple by the Research Tool. One click on Cite automatically inserted a citation and footnote. We hope that Google will reinstate this function soon. In the meantime, in my next post, I’ll include some online citation makers that create a citation with the click of a button!

The good news is that you can still search without leaving the document. Spending less time switching between apps allows students to focus on the assignment and its content.

In Docs, clicking on the Explore Tool offers three options: WEB, IMAGES, and DRIVE.

Enter a topic into the search box. WEB results include a title, URL, and short snippet summarizing the website. Clicking on a link opens a new browser tab.
explore search results

Clicking on IMAGES offers a gallery of pictures related to the search term. To insert an image into the document, simply drag it where it is to be placed. It will, by default, be in line but text wrap can be changed by selecting the image and choosing Wrap text.
explore tool images

Selecting DRIVE looks in your Google Drive for files that include the search term.

If the Explore Tool is opened when there is already text in the document, instant search suggestions are given based on the contents. Google calls this ‘insight’ and it does seem to work quite well.

The Explore Tool is consistent in Sheets and Slides. In Sheets, use the Explore Tool to ask questions about data using words if you do not know how to construct a formula. Formula and formatting suggestions are offered based on the content of the spreadsheet. In Slides, the Explore Tool also offers design suggestions as well as search results.

The research recommendations, design tools, and insight capability of this new tool make it an effective and productive update to G Suite for Education.