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Life after the Google Teacher Academy

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I was planning to write this post before the excellent conversation via Twitter between myself, @tonycassidy, @colport and @DrAshCasey. More thoughts to come on that after some further reflection on Tony’s post.

On the theme of CPD, the aim of this post is to develop some thoughts on the actions that should take place after last month’s Google Teacher Academy (GTA). The GTA falls into the ‘individual’ category – the event took place during holiday time and the expenses had to be met by the attendees.

One of the features that I like about the Google Teacher Academy is the commitment by participants to share the information with others.  I don’t see myself as a member of an elite club.

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One criticism of most CPD is that it often adopts the one-size fits all approach.  In terms of the delivery of the day, the GTA was in danger of falling in to this trap.  The delivery style of the many sessions were very similar, and there was little time for true reflection and face-to-face discussions with other participants. However, the on-line materials provided on the day, the Twitter backchannel and the expectation to engage with the wider professional community after the event created what I consider to be a truly personalised event.

I want to reflect here on what could be done after the event to share the word. Before that, a few further reflections to add to initial thoughts about the event.

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  • Getting information is only the start. Google is good at getting information, but it needs a skilled teacher to show how students what to do with this information. It is useful to think about Bloom’s Taxonomy here.  I’m confident that the ability to find information in itself will not furnish learners with what they need.
  • Linked to this, I refer to a quote in Ian Gilbert’s book (which I haven’t fully read yet) of Albert Einstein: ‘We can’t solve the problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.’  We need to avoid the fossilisation of teaching methods and techniques.  This doesn’t mean throwing out the old methods.
  • The large range of Google tools are just that.  Use them when the answer to the following question, which is a core principle of my thinking, is yes: ‘Will using these tools make learning better?’

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What will I do as a result of the Google Teacher Academy?

Eventually, these points will form part of my Action Plan that is required by Google Certified Teachers.  Here are similar posts by Ian Addison and Deputy Mitchell. Part of the process is having a peer reviewer and I am delighted that @Ariellah has agreed to be mine. I would like to point out, that these are still at the brainstorming stage.

  • I will aim to make available any future sessions that I deliver online before they happen.  This will enable participants to view and interact with the presentation while I talk. 
  • Try to introduce the idea of 20% time during a curriculum co-construction project during the 2010-11 academic year. I also plan to use Google Docs to facilitate this project.
  • Develop and adapt Tom Barrett’s Google Maps ideas into a Geography equivalent and incorporate these into the PGCE session next year.
  • Commit to sharing Google Based tools and their use in developing learning at a TeachMeet. This will probably be about curriculum creation using Google tools.
  • Share Geography related Google tools with the Portsmouth RGS-IBG network that we hope to create next year.
  • Move the department’s curriculum to Google Docs to allow editing and sharing by the whole team and others. I also want this to link to the curriculum co-construction project.
  • Investigate the feasibility of using a Google Site as a department webpage.
  • I see Google Docs as a great way to facilitate an international project.  I hope to look into this.
  • Above all, continue to use the tools that transform and facilitate good learning, regardless of their origin.

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