Tag Archives: Google Teacher Academy

Patterns of behaviour, rather than skill sets, lead to opportunities

Point Lonsdale rockpools – photo by Alexander Sheko

A while ago I was asked to contribute an article to FYI. The brief was – describe your journey to becoming a Google Certified Teacher.

I’ve had a lot of trouble writing this article, and I’ve edited many drafts before finally submitting something with which I am half pleased. It’s frustrating writing a print article for many reasons. You can’t hyperlink which means you have to explain everything in greater detail and include a set of links at the end. You wonder who your readers will be, and you know you won’t get any feedback.

And so, since this is the platform I feel comfortable to use for self-expression and sharing, I’ve copied my article into a post and hope to hear from some of you. Do you feel the same way about social media and networking or do you feel differently? Your feedback is always valuable to me.

How I became a Google Certified Teacher (Journey to becoming a Google Certified Teacher)
“We sat at brightly google-coloured tables and, shortly after breakfast, were treated to Google Educators giving us an overview of the enormous range of Google tools: Search (web, specialised, multimedia, language, custom), Google Apps Education edition, Docs, Sites, Calendar, Blogger,Books, Scholar, News, Blog Search, Alerts, Maps, Earth, Gmail, Chat, Talk,Mobile, and more. Added to these sessions, some of our 55 strong cohort had offered to present Inspiring Ideas. We were treated to Google Spreadsheets (Pat Wagner), Sites for student e-portolios (Joe Donahue), creating an augmented reality school tour (Chris Betcher), e-portfolios using Blogger and Apps (Rob Clarke), using Blogger and Video Chat for minimally invasive education (Tara Taylor-Jorgensen), and an inside view of Google Apps for Education in a school (Dorothy Burt).  At 6pm, in the last session: reflection and review, we shared our ‘Aha’ moments for the day with our group, and at 6.30pm we were treated to a lovely celebratory dinner.”This is how I described in a blog post my experience at the Google Academy in April 2011

It was a once in a lifetime opportunity which connected me not only to experienced Google educators but also to a fantastic cohort of passionate, innovative people who are now part of my learning network.

Opportunities seem to present themselves out of the blue when in fact they don’t. You have to be somewhere in order to see the opportunities. Those who attended the one and a half days of professional development and became Google Certified Teachers had already been connecting and sharing online through blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Diigo, Delicious and other social media. Of course there are many people out there who are doing the same and deserved to join the GCT cohort but weren’t chosen and the reason for this I leave up to the gods.

I look back to see a pattern of behaviour rather than a set of skills which led me to discovering the Google Teacher Academy opportunity – I am a learner, and technology and social media are my enablers.

“Participants were selected based on their professional experience, their passion for teaching and learning, and their successful use of technology in school settings.”

I think when we say ‘teaching and learning’ we should stop and think about the learning part of that dynamic partnership which makes us good educators. Yes, it’s about students’ learning, but more importantly, it’s about our own learning and our continued learning.

We can’t successfully teach our students if we are still the learners we were when we completed our teaching degree. To keep up with the world of our students and the future world of their work we need to immerse ourselves in the technology which enables today’s learning. But not technology for technology’s sake.

Howard Rheingold said (in Robert Heyden’s blog post)
that learning should be learner-centred, social and peer-to-peer and networked. He said that
“students are going to live and work socially and yet the methods and the literature of social learning are not being used.”

We teach most effectively when we experience something for ourselves. It’s not good enough to push aside the technology which makes us feel uncomfortable or decide we have no time to participate in social media. We don’t need to do more, we should just do things differently.

Social media is a great enabler. Once I started blogging I connected to people with similar roles and interests, expanding my ‘friendship’ and ‘colleague’ base, but I also followed people with varied interests and expertise, as well as those who challenged me with diverse viewpoints. Technology allows us to transcend barriers of location, culture, age, class, race, gender, and educational level. How wonderful to connect with and learn from keynoters and change agents like Will Richardson, Howard Rheingold and Joyce Valenza.

Social media is an equalizer. It democratizes people. I admire Howard Rheingold and his writings but I am unlikely to see him in person. I can, however, read what he’s written, see what he’s reading, follow what he’s thinking, discover who he’s talking to – on Twitter, Delicious and Google+.    I have the opportunity to communicate with great minds and forward thinkers. My opinion is heard – it counts; people respond and relationships are formed. If I don’t know how to do something, I ask and receive help. Social media reduces isolation and frustration and quickly answers questions, solves problems.

So, if opportunities such as GTA are a result of specific patterns of behaviour, what does this routine look like?
,
Every morning before school I check Facebook (which is blocked at school) and pull out news and resources which come to me once I’ve followed organisations. These include VicPLN, Australia e-series, Facing IT, iCentre, Internet Public Library, Maths TV, National Gallery of Victoria, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Folger Shakespeare Library, Smithsonian Libraries, Tate, The Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas, Virtual Museum of Canada, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and many more. This works like an RSS feed for me, but it’s only one of many. I also read a wide range of blogs in Google Reader, discover what others are reading in my Diigo and Delicious communities, and interact with my Twitter and Google+ networks. If this seems like too much, it’s worth noting that I have the choice to do these things selectively.

If I were to give advice for building meaningful online networks I would say:
Don’t just find, but also explore for serendipitous encounters;
Start with one type of network (eg Twitter, RSS, etc) and closely follow a few people, engaging in conversation and discovering people in their networks;
Don’t just use Google – search Diigo, Delicious, Vodpod to find expertise in areas that interest you;
Share generously what you find and create, encourage and support, respond to and ask engaging questions;
Revise your networks regularly to keep them relevant and vibrant;
Share what you do as well as your reflections and evaluations;
Be real – even online people can detect superficial or insincere interaction.

Admittedly, the global curricular focus of teacher librarians is one of the reasons that we are amongst the best participators in social media, and the teachers’ focus on content delivery and assessment can be a deterrent. Nevertheless, I make a considerable effort to model and demonstrate the fruits of social networking with the hope of inspiring others.

As Howard Rheingold says of this type of connected learning (which applies to us as well as students)

“It’s the unpredictable synergy that can happen when a group of strangers assembles online to learn together.”

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Face2Face GTA meetup with friends

I like Judith Way’s style; she makes things happen. Soon after a few of us returned from Sydney as newly certified Google Teachers, Judith set up a time and place for a face-to-face meeting and debrief. The time – this Saturday 14th May 2-4.30pm, the place – Mill Park Library, 394 Plenty Road, Mill Park. Should be good. I’m looking forward to sharing GTASYD experiences together with Jess McCulloch, Tony Richards and Glenda Morris. The session can fit 30 people and there is still room for more, so if you’re interested you can add your name and details to this google doc. Pity the rest of our Victorian cohort is unable to make it – Corrie Barclay will be playing football and I’m not sure what is preventing the rest from attending. Still, it will be good to see everyone who’s coming; some are even coming down from the mountain! Others live just around the corner from me but I haven’t seen for a long time.

Hope to see you there!

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Filed under Google, Google Teacher Academy

Tech Talk Tuesdays – Chatting about Google Teacher Academy experience

There’s a first time for everything. Recently Glenda Morris and I were asked by Anne Mirtschin to talk about our experiences at the Google Teacher Academy in Sydney on Tech Talk Tuesdays.  Normally I would have been very nervous about speaking in front of an audience but the fact that Anne was running the show was very comforting, and there’s something to be said for talking to an unseen audience in the comfort of your own home with your slippers on, holding onto a cup of hot coffee  and your dog asleep next to you. I knew that Glenda felt the same way that I did, and presenting together was actually a lot of fun. I recommend it.

Happily, we had the company of people from  USA, NZ and Malaysia, as well as Australians. I hope I haven’t missed anyone – I have to say, trying to construct comprehensible sentences on the spot was challenging enough, and I found that, unless Glenda was speaking, I wasn’t able to keep up with the chat and questions, so luckily Anne had all that under control.

Our intention was not to present a detailed account of Google apps but to share our experiences, provide some ‘inside information’ about the Google space and agenda, and pull out a few examples of Google apps which had resonated with us.

Here is the slide presentation and you can listen to the archived recording of the session here.

Sorry about the two blank slides; not sure why the pictures are not showing.

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How do you find 50 people you don’t know from all over the world?

As you already know from a recent post, I’m lucky to be attending the Sydney Google Teacher Academy in April. I have to say, I’ve been curious to find out who is going and where they’re from. Someone started a Twitter #gtasyd hashtag which got the ball rolling, and soon I was adding people to my Twitter network and to a #gtasyd Twitter list. At one point, somebody asked for those attending the Sydney academy to share their 60 second video. I was thinking the same thing, although I’d tried searching YouTube but the results returned a mixture of people’s videos from different years.

Even though it seemed a little too obvious, I decided to create a Google Doc. This worked very well – after I realised that I’d made it public but hadn’t allowed anyone to edit. Soon #gtasyd people were coming in and introducing themselves, providing photos, a little background to place them geographically and add a personal touch, adding blog urls, Twitter usernames, and a link to their 60 second video.

You can have a look here if you’re interested. At first I thought we were either from Australia, New Zealand or USA but then Boris from Nizhny Novgorod, Russia added his details, followed by a ‘lucky Frenchman’.

Suddenly I’d gone from having very little information about the people I’d be meeting in Sydney – only those who were already in my PLN – to knowing quite a bit about them: where they lived, their identities on Twitter, Skype, Facebook, Diigo, etc., what they looked like, a little family background, not to mention the fact that I could browse their blogs for interests, focus, mindset and more. The fact that these people had a rich web presence made it easy to find the information I needed.

How important is a web presence? How important is it for us to help our students begin to create a digital footprint, a positive and authentic identity online?  These are obviously rhetorical questions. We need to stop focusing on the dangers of our students’ online activity and focus on teaching them to create strong, positive digital footprints.

At one point, as I was watching Boris (from Russia) enter his details on the Google doc (I love the way you can see it take shape right before your eyes), he noticed I was viewing and we had a short chat. That was cool – I was at school in Melbourne, Australia, and he was in Russia in a different timezone.

I’m glad that Australia finally got a go with Google Teacher Academy, and I’m looking forward to meeting everyone in April. I wonder what kind of projects and connections will come from this experience?

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What an opportunity – Google Teacher Academy Sydney

What a (good) shock it was to receive an email with news that I had been selected to participate in the Google Teacher Academy in Sydney 20 April (as well as an optional half-day on Thursday). I still can’t believe my luck!  I’ve heard the one full-day PD is full-on, so I hope I’m up to it mentally and physically.

Although I’m confused and upset that many bright and shining people who deserve to go weren’t selected,  I am also honoured and excited, and look forward to fantastic opportunities to learn, connect and share with passionate educators. I expect that this experience will enhance my ability to support teaching and learning at my own school and in my broader environment, and also to broaden my understanding of ways in which I can contribute to learning enhancement, my new role this year. Obviously, the learning will not end with the one session but continue beyond the day. I look forward to meeting and adding to my network new people from all over the place. It’s always fantastic to discover interesting, innovative people.

Not sure what happens here

I suppose I’d better book my flight soon, as well as somewhere to stay. It will be interesting meeting the overseas people. Can’t wait!

Who else is going? Looking forward to meeting you.

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