Scholar, Books, Datasets, and More – Google Search Tools Students Overlook

In last week’s episode of Two EdTech Guys Take Questions Rushton and I answered a question about alternatives to using Google search. What we failed to emphasize is that Google offers a lot of search tools that students often overlook or don’t even know about. Some of my favorites of those are highlighted and demonstrated below. 

Ngram Viewer

Google’s Ngram Viewer is a search tool that students can use to explore the use of words and names in books published between 1800 and 2019. The Ngram Viewer shows users a graph illustrating the first appearance of a word or name in literature and the frequency with which that word or name appears in literature since 1800. The graph is based on the books and periodicals that are indexed in Google Books.

The Ngram Viewer will let you compare the use of multiple words or names in one graph. The example that I give in this video is to compare the use of the terms “National Parks,” “National Forests,” and “National Forest Service.” By looking at the Ngram Viewer for those terms I can see that they start to appear more frequently around 1890, have a lull in the 1940s and 1950s, and then appear more frequently again in the 1960s. 

Ngram Viewer is based on books indexed in Google Books. That is why below every graph generated by Ngram Viewer you will find a list of books about each of your search terms. Those books are arranged by date. 

A third component of Ngram Viewer to note is that it works with multiple languages including English, French, Chinese, German, Italian, Russian, Hebrew, and Spanish. 

Google Books

Google Books helps students locate and search inside books without having to track down a physical copy of each book that they are interested in reading. If students do want a physical copy of a book, Google Books can help them find a local library that has a copy of the book they desire. Those features of Google Books and more are demonstrated in my video Five Things Students Should Know About Google Books.

Google Dataset Search

Google Dataset Search is a search tool that is designed to help users locate publicly available datasets. This isn’t a tool for searching within the datasets, it’s a tool for finding datasets. For example, if you’re doing research on earthquakes and want to find some datasets to analyze, Google Dataset Search will help you locate datasets that you could then open and or download to analyze. Watch the following short video to see how to use Google Dataset Search.

Search for Public Google Docs

Refining Google searches according to domain is one of my favorite ways to get students to look beyond the first couple of pages of their typical Google search queries. Students can specify site or domain in Google’s advanced search menu to limit results to those that are only from top-level domains like .edu. They can also specify a subdomain like In fact, that’s a great way to find publicly shared Google Documents. It also works for finding publicly shared Google Slides, Forms, Sheets, and Drawings. Watch this short video to learn how to find public Google Workspace files.

Google Scholar

A few weeks ago I made the case for Google Scholar. It’s a great tool to use when you want to take a deep dive into any topic including topics that seem to be trendy and new (spoiler alert, they’re not as new as you think). Watch this video to learn how to use seven key features of Google Scholar. 


Thank You Readers for 14 Amazing Years!