Goo.gl(e)

Have you ever had to deal with one of these?

An image of a very, very long URL.
Click for details. 

Some teachers use the internet in their assignments, especially when it comes to projects and research. Many of those teachers just copy the URL they want their students to go to directly from the address bar to a worksheet. Unfortunately, this means that the students have to type in those unwieldy links (often tens of random characters long) into their own computers to do their homework. While this system is convenient for the teachers, it creates a huge obstacle for the students.

Enter goo.gl.

Goo.gl is Google’s own URL shortener (on the page itself, it is called “Google url shortener”). With it, long links can be shortened into simple 13-character links. It’s as easy as pasting the link into the bar and hitting “shorten URL.” From there, you can copy the newly-made link to emails, worksheets, or wherever else you might need them. Best of all, if you are logged in to Google, the website will save a list of your links, so you can re-use them over and over without making new URLs. And there’s a convenient “hide” button that will hide links you don’t want to see anymore. As another upside, goo.gl is completely free to use.

An image of goo.gl being used to shorten the very long link in the first image.
Take the link from earlier…

For more tech-savvy users, there is a “details” link, which shows usage statistics for the shortened URL in question. More importantly, it also shows a QR code, which is another way the link could be shared even more easily, as long as the reader has a way to scan the code. Of course, for school use, a QR code is less useful, as not every reader may have a way to scan the QR code, but it is an option worth noting.

A tool like this would be incredibly easy to use. One quick meeting would be enough time to teach the teachers how to use it, and adding a link somewhere on the school website would make it even harder to forget. Once teachers get into the habit of using it, they wouldn’t have any problems, and the students would be spared the pain of typing impossible links into their computers.

Further reading:

Google’s instructions for using goo.gl:

https://developers.google.com/url-shortener/v1/getting_started

 

Why Google made goo.gl:

https://www.mattcutts.com/blog/goo-gl-url-shortener/

 

Speed comparison to other URL shorteners (verified by non-comprehensive personal tests):

http://royal.pingdom.com/2010/10/29/is-goo-gl-really-the-fastest-url-shortener-chart/

http://lifehacker.com/5496415/all-url-shorteners-are-not-equal-pick-a-speedy-and-reliable-one

 

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