On April 4th and 5th, I attended this year’s Google Teacher Academy (GTA), which was held at the Google office in London, England.
“The Google Teacher Academy is a free professional development experience designed to help K-12 educators get the most from innovative technologies. Each Academy is an intensive, one-day event [with an optional second day] where participants get hands-on experience with Google's free products and other technologies, learn about innovative instructional strategies, receive resources to share with colleagues, and immerse themselves in an innovative corporate environment. Upon completion, Academy participants become Google Certified Teachers who share what they learn with other K-12 educators in their local region.”
Throughout my time with Google, I attended sessions on Google Apps for Education, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google Sites, Google Art Project, scripts, Google Maps, YouTube, Google+, Google Chrome, and more. Most of the sessions focused on unique ways in which the products could be used, both inside and outside the classroom. The instructors assumed that attendees already possessed basic knowledge of these programs, so they instead focused on “hidden gems”.
The majority of the resources from the GTA are featured on a Google website (see link below). It felt like each session served as a preview or tease of its designated topic, and then the attendees were left to further explore the subject matter on their own time through the website. In the near future I plan to take a thorough look at the website, so that I can make use of some of its resources during the 2012-2013 school year. Through professional development, I would also like familiarize other teachers with what the website has to offer.
Although it is too soon to offer a comprehensive list of my favorite resources and ideas that I will put into action, there are a few that currently come to mind: Google Search Curriculum, Google Art Project, TEDEd, Flubaroo, animaps.com, and flipteaching.com. Also, after sitting through a few “YouTube in the classroom” sessions, it is hard not to think about what my students could accomplish if my classroom had its own YouTube channel.
The passion and knowledge of the presenters helped to make the GTA unforgettable. Many of them were seasoned teachers and presenters, while others worked directly for Google. Either way, they all displayed in-depth knowledge of Google tools and how to get the most out of them.
Furthermore, enough cannot be said about the 49 other teachers who attended the conference. Throughout the two days, I had the opportunity to interact with almost all of them in one way or another. The members of this diverse group work across all educational fields, and they are from all parts of the world. I look forward to collaborating with a handful of them throughout the future.
Finally, one of the highlights of the GTA was the opportunity to video chat with Google engineers from Mountain View, California. Through a handful of sessions, we communicated with workers from several product departments, such as Google Docs, YouTube, and Google+. Each time, we were provided with the opportunity to ask questions. Also, and to my amazement, each engineer offered a brief demo of a few features/upgrades that Google will be releasing within the next year or so.
Overall, the Google Teacher Academy was two days of professional development that were both absolutely inspiring and entirely educational. As someone who is more familiar with Apple products, I appreciate the way in which my new resources and information will drive me to stretch myself when it comes to my areas of proficiency, and in terms of the level of education that I can provide for my students.
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