What's in Google?

Screenshot from a presentation


This icebreaker is intended for first-semester students with little knowledge about college-level research. The activity draws out the most common assumptions about the internet, about libraries, and about research.

Time Required

  • This activity will take approximately 10 minutes.

Learning Objectives

  • Students will be able to articulate the limitations of using Google as their only research tool.
  • Students will be able to articulate certain benefits to using contemporary university libraries.
  • Students will be able to explain and avoid common misconceptions about research.

Materials Needed

  • Clickers (optional)
  • PowerPoint


  • Distribute clicker remotes (optional).
  • Open the "What's in Google?" PowerPoint.
  • Explain to students that you are going to show three images and you'd like them to vote (clickers or just a show of hands) for the image that best represents Google to them.
  • Show the first three images [signpost, crowd, fast delivery] and allow the students to vote. Importantly, the librarian should not attempt to explain to the students what the images are intended to mean.
  • After voting, the librarian asks students to explain why they voted the way they did. This should result in some conversation about what's "best" about Google.
  • The librarian should explain that while the students aren't wrong, there are some important things to keep in mind.
  • Switch to the next slides one at a time [iceberg, Dumb and Dumber, coin slot] and prompt the students to explain how the new images relate to Google. An alternative way to play involves letting the students vote on the next three images first, and then explain their votes.
  • Repeat for the "What's in the Library?" and "What is Research?" pairs of slides.
  • Important: while the librarian should write down student thoughts on the whiteboard, the librarian should not just lecture through the slides explaining what they are supposed to mean. If the student response you want hasn't come up yet, keep asking.



Updated November 2012

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Teaching materials created by UTC librarians are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.