Monday, April 25, 2011

Visiting the Land of Google in Sydney

Google’s Mission
“Organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

Last week I still couldn’t quite believe I had been accepted to attend the Google Teacher Academy in Sydney – this week it seems like it was all a dream, albeit an incredibly inspiring and motivating dream! Luckily it wasn’t a dream and I am now a fully-fledged Google Certified Teacher. Not only do I have the certificate, I also have the socks, the coffee mug, the headphones, the pens, the ruler, the apron, the notebooks, the umbrella, the bag and the hat to prove it! I have been successfully “Googlified”!

My head is still spinning and after a few days relaxing and eating chocolate over Easter I am now starting to reflect back over my days in Sydney. As I reflect back I am also excited by the prospects of what next. I have decided there is way too much to put in one blog post so have set my first goal. Over the next few weeks/months I will delve deeper into the tools for each Google app and post my thoughts and ideas in individual blog posts.

For now I will share my initial reflections about the two days I spent at Google HQ in Sydney. Highlights for me included…

• Hearing and living the Google Philosophy and culture, in particular the Ten things we know to be true that Mark Wagner adapted to suit the education environment – A great philosophy for 21st Educators to embrace.

• Focus on the student and all else will follow.
• It’s best to teach a few things really, really well.
• Democracy in the classroom works.
• You don’t need to be at school to learn.
• You can teach without doing evil.
• Improve teaching and learning by leveraging innovative tools
And the one that I particulary like
• Great just isn’t good enough☺

• Meeting, collaborating and networking with Educators from around the world – USA, Russia, Belgium, Japan, Australia and New Zealand were represented. With the power of technology we had made initial connections using Google Docs and twitter pre conference. It was amazing to meet face to face to further develop these relationships. Already collaborations are being made and will continue to flourish via the online environment. As a NZ contingent we are already planning on delivering a collaborative “Google Apps” workshop for teachers. Firstly at EducampNZ (4 locations throughout NZ), followed by ULearn11 in Rotorua.

Tara Taylor-Jorgenson, Helen King, Fiona Grant, Tania Coutts and David Winter
NZ Google Certified Teachers - Sydney 2011

• The tour of the Google Offices – WOW – incredibly designed workspaces, micro kitchens, café, gym equipment, games rooms, sleep pods, library, themed meeting rooms and yet another micro kitchen – Google policy ensures no “Googler” will be over 150 feet away from food! I can see how the working environment could work in a classroom environment – amazing spaces = amazing learning!

I am in awe of Google – their ideas run parallel to that of many great Educators – really thinking about the future and focusing on making it a better place and realising that the decisions we make now will affect us for years to come. Great Educators challenge others to think about where they want to be in the future and encourage others to look at the many ways of getting there.

I look forward to sharing my learning as a Google Certified Teacher and fulfilling my role as a GCT - “Ambassadors for change who model high expectations, life-long learning, collaboration, equity & inclusion, and innovation.”

I can't wait to get into Early Childhood Centres and Schools in Northland and "Googlify" others:-)

Favourite quote of the day shared by Mark Wagner –
“He who learns from one who is learning drinks from flowing water.”

And to finish off what I hoped would be a shorter blogpost than this… Did you Know??
The Original name for Google was “Back Rub”! Just doesn’t sound right does it “Let’s Back Rub it!”


Tara TJ said...

Awesome post Tania :) I LOVED the Ten Things We Know To Be True but was fighting with the wireless and didn't get it down so THANK YOU for this!

Just like we don't know what we don't know, we also don't know what we have forgotten! Helpful insightful posts like this are just GREAT! Really looking forward to working with you this year :)


John said...

Great post Tania. I'm glad you mention that bag of goodies Google gave us. My favorite gadget was the sonic screwdriver, though I haven't quite figured out how it works yet.

Google's culture certainly is impressive. It would be wonderful if we could get our schools to have that same kind of relaxed and casual atmosphere together with a confident "can do" attitude, and a passion and enthusiasm for learning.

Miss K said...

Cool post Tania. Like Tara, I love reading people's follow up blogs as it keeps alive all that we experienced on that full on day.
I offered up a "Google School" to the kids today - needless to say they loved the idea!
Looking forward to Educamp - getting the crew all organised for a roadie.

Kathe said...

I am loving the idea of you 'drip feeding' us more of your learning during this time. Can't wait to meet over dinner and a glass of wine to hear all about it F2F. Thanks for your first post on this :-) Although I'm going to miss this weeks PD/PL, I will keep up with all of this

Anonymous said...

Tania this was inspiring to read - will follow your learning journey on this blog and in our CORE chin wags! Sounds like you had a chance to look up at the stars and dream and you are helping us to do the same - thank you!