Inside the Google Teacher Academy 2011

googleteacheracademy

On April 20 last week fifty-four educators, invited from around the world, arrived at Google’s Sydney offices like children before a birthday party – full of anticipation and excitement at the prospect of attending only the second Google Teacher Academy (GTA) held outside the United States. I was fortunate to be among them.  A talented team of “lead learners” lead by Mark Wagner awaited us.

Before the event we were advised by previous attendees to “get plenty of sleep” and prepare for a “fire hose dosing of information”. It wasn’t long before the soundness of that advice was proved.  A series of fast-paced Google brain-dumps covered so much information so quickly that by early afternoon, when Google’s Dana Nguyen observed that “Google people talk quickly”, it was already old news. As we struggled to take it all in Dana reassured us that it is not necessary to store information in your head if you know where to find it when you need it. Given the limited capacity of my head, that was advice I appreciated.

Google’s mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”, so it’s hardly surprising that most of the material covered at GTA Sydney is freely available online. I’ve included links to that information, broken up into more easily digested pieces, in this post.  If you have the time to explore these links you’ll find a wealth of information to fuel educational possibilities inside and outside the classroom.

Some sessions were run by graduates of previous Google Teacher Academies.  These were all skilled presenters with a deep understanding of and a passion for the benefits of Google technology in education.  The relevant links are shown below:

The sessions were run by Google Certified Teachers (GCTs) from previous years – each an expert in their field – along with Dr Mark Wagner from CUE and Dana Nguyen from Google.  We were also privileged to be given presentations by other Google personnel and were even given a tour of Google’s Sydney offices.The sessions were run by Google Certified Teachers (GCTs) from previous years – each an expert with a passion for the benefits of Google technology in education.

Google Search by Lisa Thumann

Google Apps for Education by Kern Kelly

Google Docs by Wendy Gorton

Google Sites by Lisa Thumann

Google Calendar by Danny Silva

Maps and Google Earth by Wendy Gorton

Gmail and Google Talk by Danny Silva

Google Apps Administration by Kern Kelly

Research Tools by Mark Wagner

Other sessions were run by Google personnel – each one an impressive evangelists for Google technology.  They even revealed some confidential information on current Google projects and future plans.  This information confirmed the remarkable speed of innovation at Google.  Links to their topics are shown below (excludes NDA content):

Google Apps New Features (and Blogger) by Anil Sabharwal

Google Mobile by David Loxton

Google Apps for Education Training Programs by Dana Nguyen

We also heard from six fellow participants who had volunteered prior to the event to present “Inspiring Ideas”.  Here are their Google presentations.

The Spread of Google Spreadsheets by Pat Wagner

Using sites for student e-portolios by Joe Donahue

Creating an augmented reality school tour by  Chris Betcher

e-portfolios using Blogger and Google Apps by Rob Clarke

Minimally invasive education by Tara Taylor-Jorgensen

The dog ate my homework by Dorothy Burt

Before the event I considered myself well informed about Google tools – especially the ones I used regularly like Search, Docs, Sites, Calendar and Gmail – but over the course of the day I was introduced to many useful  new features and to recent innovations that I knew little or nothing about.  One of my “Aha!” moments occurred when Kern Kelly illustrated the power of Google lookup functions in Google Spreadsheets.  The ability to pull down information from the Web and put it into a spreadsheet was a revelation to me.

Without doubt my greatest highlight of GTA Sydney was meeting amazing educators from around the world. The opportunity to network with these talented people in the year ahead is a privilege that I’m determined not to waste. Other GTA highlights included a tour of the Google offices, the opportunity explore CR-48 Chrome netbooks and Android mobile devices like the Motorola Xoom.

If I have a criticism of the event, it would be that it was too short.  It would have been even better if we had had more time and opportunity to explore the educational opportunities Google’s amazing tools make possible while we were still together in Sydney.  The following half-day “un-conference” provided some opportunity for this, but longer would have been better.

Many GCTs have blogged about their experience at GTA Sydney.  Here are the posts that I’m aware of: Glenda BakerCorrie BarclayChris BetcherChris Christodoulou, Penny Collins, Tania CouttsKelly Jordan, Glenda MorrisMike ReadingTania ShekoTara Taylor-Jorgensen.

UPDATE: An Ed Tech Crew podcast with interviews from GTA Sydney by Tony Richards can be found here.

13 thoughts on “Inside the Google Teacher Academy 2011

  1. Hi Penny,
    Great to meet you in Sydney too. Thanks for updating me about your post. I’ve added you to the list. :)

  2. Thanks for the great wrapup John. It was a good PD event and although I have the same suggestions as you for how I’d like to fine tune it, there’s no argument that it was a great experience and a wonderful thing to be part of. Just watching the talk on the GCT group mailing list in the last few days makes me realise what an outstanding group of educators this will be to be part of.

    I found it interesting that all the notes and documentation from the GTA, all the sites and docs that contain the content of what we covered, is all publicly accessible. There are really no secrets about the information. The magic was in being part of it and experiencing the event itself.

    Good to meet and connect with you.

    Chris

  3. Thanks Chris. Having the information publicly available offers great value for anyone with an interest – even for participants who can go back and digest it at a slower pace, but the real magic was in meeting other amazing educators like yourself in person. Blogs, Twitter, Skype etc. are great, but they can’t beat face to face in the same room!

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  6. Thank’s John for such a succinct article and accessible links. I will certainly be taking some time to explore the tools covered at the GTA. It sound’s like it was a great event for all those involved.
    I do question that Google’s primary mission is to “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. Their share holders may have a different perspective on that. I’m also a little uncomfortable with the notion that a muti-national company now certifies teachers, although it may eventually save me from the $65 a year I pay to the Victorian Institute of Teachers.
    Putting my black hat aside. Thanks again for sharing the information that was passed on to you by Google! It will certainly be of benefit to me and my students.

  7. Thanks Russell. I’m glad you found the links useful.

    We all need to be open to ‘black hat’ critical thinking. No doubt financial motivations drive most Google shareholders. There’s a lot of money to be made in making information more accessible and more useful. Google’s ‘Ten things we know to be true‘ includes the statement, ‘You can make money without doing evil’.

  8. Thank’s John for such a succinct article and accessible links. I will certainly be taking some time to explore the tools covered at the GTA. It sound’s like it was a great event for all those involved.

  9. Nice writeup John. I had the privilege of attending the academy and it was absolutely amazing. I’ve never learnt so much so quickly!

  10. Thanks Greg. Great to hear that you had an amazing time at a GTA too. Which one did you attend?

  11. Thank you for sharing this – I look forward to finding some time to go through these respurces my personal PD

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