I was lucky enough to be selected to attend the Google Teacher Academy in Sydney, Australia on April 20 and 21. The Google Teacher Academy (GTA) is a free professional development experience designed to help primary and secondary educators from around the globe get the most from innovative technologies.
Educators who wish to attend the GTA completed an online application and 54 classroom teachers, ICT specialists, administrators and librarians from around the world were chosen to attend the Sydney event. Upon completion, the educators are classed as Google Certified Teachers (GCT).
Most of the Google Certified Teachers (GCT) from GTA Sydney
We were told to prepare for a huge day and a half of learning, and that certainly proved to be true! We were taken on a fast-paced journey through Google’s free products and other technologies and my head is still spinning from the experience! It would be impossible for me to blog about everything I learnt, so I have decided that this post will be a brief overview of the GTA program and I will blog about specific Google education tools in the coming weeks.
I was really impressed with the leaders at the GTA. They are clearly experts in their field and they presented the tools in a logical, practical, interesting and entertaining way. Here’s a snapshot of three tools we learnt more about:
1. Google Search – We learnt how to use the Google search engine more effectively, the key being to maximise the chances of finding what you are after quickly. A few tips included using Related Searches, the Wonder Wheel, Google alerts, Google Squared for research, Advanced Searches, being specific in Google Images, Similar Images, Google News Timeline, Readability, Google Books, Google Custom Search, Google Curriculum and Google Scholar.
2. Google Apps for Education – We learnt the differences between Apps (inside a domain) and apps (outside a domain). Schools can set up a domain for a year level/school (more appropriate for younger students) and individual accounts (for senior students) to store their own information, collaborate with friends or publish for the world. Students, teachers and staff can share ideas more quickly and get things done more effectively because they have access to the same powerful communication and sharing tools.
3. Google Sites – This is Google’s version of a wiki. Google Sites is a free and quick way to create and share a website. You can embed content, add gadgets (similar to widgets) and there is a big storage capacity. Schools can create class webpages. Click here for some ideas for how Google Sites could be used for teachers.
Other tools we learnt about include…
It is difficult to summarise such a huge day and a half of learning succinctly, but here are four really positive elements from the GTA that stood out for me.
We also got a giftbag with lots of cool Google freebies!
I had a great time at the GTA and feel very privileged to now be a GCT! In a way, the learning has only just started and I look forward to further investigation, reflection, collaboration and experimentation to realise the full potential Google tools and products can offer our students. So stay tuned for future GTA posts!