Wednesday, April 11, 2012

GTAUK reflections

Where to start?...Wow, seems an appropriate place!  What an unbelievable couple of days I was lucky enough to spend in London last week at the Google Teacher Academy, learning so much my brain is still processing much of the information - sure I'll get a decent nights sleep at some point!  I also got to meet some amazing and inspiring educators, some of whom I was aware and had followed from afar (I won't embarrass them by naming names!) and some new names who I will definitely be following from now on.  So now the dust has settled, what did I take from the GTA?

Firstly, as hinted at above, the Google Certified Teacher community is full of phenomenal and passionate educators from all over the world.  I will deliberately try to avoid putting names in here for fear of missing someone out or appearing to 'name-drop', but to sit and listen to such inspiring individuals reminded me why I became an educator.  Not being in a day-to-day school environment, I tend to forget how willing educators are to share their ideas with others.  But throughout the day, speakers were willing to share ideas and offer ongoing support without an ounce of arrogance or self-importance - it was a really humbling experience and a reminder of how lucky we are to work in a sector that isn't always looking after 'number one'.  To have access to these people, and many others, through social media and the google group (just been through the 170 or so messages I have received so far!) can only support my role as an educator and I also hope I am able to contribute to that community.

In terms of technology, what did I learn?  Certainly more than I can write (or expect you to read!) here.  I saw some Google tools I wasn't aware of such as Google moderator.  I found out Google search is much more powerful (had no idea you could search by reading level) and fun (sexy Snape!) than I imagined.  Had reinforced the collaborative potential of Google Docs and re imagined the storytelling potential of technology.  My preconceptions (see previous post) about Google Apps were largely challenged and after I've had a good look at them will form the basis of a future post.  Talk of 'Google-time' and flipped classrooms made me question how I would approach teaching if/when I ever return to the classroom full-time.  The power of YouTube as a classroom tool was made evident and how what we teach learners is going to evolve (spoilers!).  I even saw some tips on good web design - returners to my blog may have noticed a more minimalist look to it!  So what now?

As a Google Certified Teacher I am required to put together an action plan and have many ideas as to what that action plan will be.  While those ideas bounce around in my head and hopefully eventually become a coherent plan, my ideas come broadly under 3 categories:
1) YouTube - currently blocked across Walsall, I hope to be an advocate for getting it unblocked and supporting schools using this fantastic resource - conversations already taking place!
2) Google SketchUp - I already had a school wanting to run a SketchUp project based on the Egyptians, so I look forward to this project, particularly with some of the excellent resources picked up at the GTA.
3) Google Apps - although many Walsall schools already use a commercial Learning Platform, I intend to investigate these further and maybe run some smaller projects in the first instance with some willing guinea pigs!

So that's some of my reflections on the Google Teacher Academy.  In case they're reading this, a huge thanks to all who organised the GTAUK session last week and a particular thanks to 'Team Land' for making me feel so welcome. In case you're interested here's a link to Tom Barrett's reflection, including some links to even more GTA reflection posts.  To finish, and because I can, this is me!: