Google Jockeys For Conference Sessions

If you haven’t heard about Google Jockeys, the basic idea is that an instructor assigns a student to search Google during a class session so that the class can be alerted to material found on the Internet that relates to the class content. I guess to make this work you need at least two monitors or screens in the class room, one to show the instructor’s material and one to show the Google Jockey’s search results. I suppose it could be done with a single monitor or screen depending on how it’s handled. Since this is a relatively new practice there is no research on the impact of Google Jockeys in the classroom.

So I found it interesting to read that at the next Masie Center Learning2006 conference, many of the presentations will feature a Google jockey. According to the latest LearningTrends newsletter from the Masie Center:

During every Keynote/General Session, you will be able to see a screen with the results of on-going real time Google searches, based on the speech or interview. For example, as I am interviewing Lucy Carter from Apple, we might talk about the role of PodCasts for Blended Learning. Our Google Team will do a real time search on key elements,
display it for your interest and provide an edited search list for all participants.

Can something like this really help conference attendees or is it a trendy gimmick? Personally, I think I’d find it distracting to have a screen spewing Google results while there’s a presentation going on. Assuming the idea has merit how do I know the Google Jockey is an effective searcher. Maybe his or her searches are really missing some of the best information on the topic – and it may even be that a search engine other than Google could do a better job retrieving information on the speaker’s topic. And what’s with providing an edited list of the Google results? I could certainly do my own Google search if I was that interested in the topic. I’d much prefer the presenters to develop a resource list in advance and have it for me when I got to the presentation. I can see some merits of Google Jockeying in the classroom, but I’m just not sure it’s going to work all that well at a conference.

The Learning2006 conference is also going to offer real-time mindmap development:

You will be able to watch the development of a graphical MindMap. Every concept, metaphor and conversation thread will be captured in a linkable MindMap. References to books, links and research will be added by our MindMap team. At the end of the speech, the Thought Leader, myself and a team from our CONSORTIUM will edit and expand the MindMap to give to each participant.

Now this sounds like an interesting idea. It could be a great way to obtain a visual conceptualization of a presentation, along with relevant resources. I hope the Masie Center will make some of the mindmaps available to the public. No matter how things turn out I have to hand it to the Masie Center folks for their innovative ideas.

Who knows, maybe we’ll see a few Google Jockeys at the 13th National ACRL conference in Baltimore. Who wants to go first?

3 thoughts on “Google Jockeys For Conference Sessions”

  1. Not me. I already find powerpoint a distraction. I can multitask with the best of them, but when I go to a conference I want to hear a speaker or panel and have a chance to think about something in some depth, not have the same distractions I deal with all day long.

    What might be interesting though would be for librarians to info-jockey for disciplinary conferences – pulling up valuable sources, not necessarily through a simple Google search of key terms but by knowing that interesting sources will turn up in CiteSeer or PubMed or …

    But honestly, as a conference attendee I’d rather not be subjected to it.

  2. I love the idea of making web resources available in realtime. It is how I worl on a daily basis. Of course the critical step will be to make the flow of information available for review following the conference.

  3. Steve,
    I think the Millennials will have no problem listening to the speaker and taking in the jockeys’ findings…

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