Sunday, June 29, 2008

Even More

Even More Google Certified Teachers!
June 25 2008 was a big day in every way. We set out from my nephew's place in Pleasanton, CA with all the early morning commuters. A train ride and 2 shuttle buses later we were at the Google campus where the Google Teacher Academy was being held.
I pretty much went around all day with my mouth open. The phrase that summed it all up for me was repeated over and over by Chris Walsh during his workshop as he showed us how to get
"Even More" out of Google.From a visitor perspective it appeared that where ever you looked there was even more. I have to start with the food because it was on everyone's lips ;) Meals available at all times of the day in the kitchens (imagine huge food courts with proper chefs where the food is free!) and micro kitchens scattered around for breaks in between. Transport appeared to be on demand from buses to bikes. For those who don't get enough exercise walking around the campus we saw employees playing volleyball and using the gyms. Attention to detail in the architecture, the furnishing - even the dinosaur skeleton out in the grounds - all seemed to be designed to contribute to the feeling of creativity and energy in the place. And the high tech toilets(sorry, bathrooms in American) deserve a paragraph of their own. Oh to be 23 again and get a job there!
In the reception areas of the buildings we went into Google searches were screened live on the walls as they were occuring around the world - filtered we were told! It was fascinating seeing the things people search AND seeing what a way we have to go in teaching people how to refine a search. One that caught my eye was a search for world cup. I tried it out myself while typing this and got 59,900,000 results. Someone might want to try that search again!
For the 50 teachers attending the GTA the rich programme of professional development was incredible. A combination of keynote speakers and quickfire workshops was interspersed with opportunities to pick each other's brains. When it was time to leave a number of people were muttering about how their brains hurt! I guess we all feel like we 'know' Google because we use it every day and it has become a verb in our everyday vocabs, but this even more experience showed how most of us are only scratching the surface.
So what? For me.... for my workplace....
Feel free to ask specific questions through the comments, but one of the big ideas I will be exploring is the use of Google tools for student ePortfolios. We have been asking a lot of questions about using solutions that are either platform specific or limited to the student's life at a particular school. Now we are able to create a lifetime ePortfolio that can belong to an individual.
On a smaller scale it will be interesting to look at using Gmaps Pedometer to map calories burned and distance covered in the course of the school day with our students. Before we start responding to government demands to add more Phys Ed to our students' day, they could work out how much exercise they are actually getting in the course of their normal day.
The day ended with us creating our own personal action plans to go back and work on. And more food.
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