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GTA 2011!

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Well. What an experience. An experience filled with such wonderful learning opportunities in so many various ways.

From my last post you may have gotten the hint that i was somewhat ecstatic at being selected to attend the Google Teacher Academy for 2011. The fact also that it was the first GTA of 10 so far, being held in Australia, and the second to be held outside of the U.S. made it all the more special.

For those who are unaware of what the Google Teacher Academy is, in a nutshell, it’s an opportunity for educators to be involved in a wonderful learning experience relating to al things Google and how all these things… ‘Google’, can assist teaching and learning. Both on a personal and whole School/College level. Those who attend the GTA then become GTC’s, or Google Certified Teachers. The Mission statement of the GTA summons this up very well:

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At the beginning of the day, and also prior, (actually we were warned, several times) warned that we needed to be ready to be hit full on, with a day in which we would be covering a massive amount of content. Hit we were! The day was jam-packed full, covering all of the major Google tools and resources with a group of dedicated ‘Lead Learners’ (Google Certified Teachers who had obviously outstanding content knowledge of the Google Tools and Resources and who were also wonderful people to meet and get to know!) The 54 participants (most whom are located below in this great photo),

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whom had been selected to attend GTA 2011, and this gave each and every single person in attendance the chance to meet, network and collaborate, which was extremely powerful! You can see from the map below just where all 54 members had travelled from!

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The whole day was planned with intent and purpose in with the GTA Team it’s Mission Statement (above) with flying colours. The talk and chatter that occurred throughout the day was phenomenal. Interactions between people who’d never met, people who had only met via a PLN such as Twitter, and those who’d actually met was outstanding. To see all these great educators collaborating with the tools they had been shown to them truly was a credit to the day and the leaders involved.

Here is just a few of the things that we covered throughout the day and as i said, just a few… 😉

  • Google Apps: Education Edition
  • Google Books
  • Google Calendar
  • Google Docs
  • Google Earth
  • Gmail
  • Google Maps
  • Google Mobile
  • Google News
  • Google Reader
  • Google Search
  • Google Sites

It was however the first activity that we had to complete for the day that really made me think about my own teaching, my own personal learning journey, and education and teaching in general. The activity was named, aptly…

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For this great activity we were asked to “Think of the best example of innovation in education that you can”… The catch (as there always is…) the innovation that you think of cannot involve technology! No iPads, Laptops, Mobile Technologies. Nothing ‘techie’ what so ever! I can surely say that this threw me! Not an easy task! We had time to think about this, share this with our team, and share this with the rest of the GTA team! A great question to have a think about yourself! The answers that were shared by the GTC’s were amazing! Topics ranging from Learning Design Spaces, to the workings of the Human Brain and it’s development and understandings to the thinking curriculum! Many and varied answers, just what you’d expect from so many varied educators!

If i were continue down the path of telling you all that i’d learnt and what i’d gotten from attending the GTA, we’d both be here for some while. I will finish with this, and that being, attending the GTA for 2011 was a learning opportunity that i will never forget. The tools, resources, people and setting all made for such a remarkable day.

Thank you to all those who attended to help make this such a great professional learning experience. For those who’ve ever though about becoming a GTA, those who’ve never thought about becoming a GTA, or those simply interested in Google and what it has to offer, i encourage you to complete the application process and join this great community of educators who have a passion for learning!

One last thought or statement which came from GTA and a great one at that:

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Google & GTA 2011

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This year i was luckily enough to be selected to part of the Google Teacher Academy (GTA) for 2011. I will be honest and say that I was quite ‘chuffed’ when i was informed of being chosen to be part of this amazing group of people and this wonderful learning experience!

I think, more so believe, that Google is a resource that is massively undervalued as an educational tool. The App’s that Google offers educators to assist teaching and learning highly out weigh a lot of what is already on offer out there in the World Wide Web!

So… what i would like to share are a few links and resources that i have come across in my time, mostly from having a great PLN,  that i have found to be both useful and practical. Resources that have assisted me in delivering specific content to my students and tools which have helped me with my teaching. I hope you find them useful.

1. Google for Educators. The official Google for education site. Here you will find excellent tools for your classroom including activities and posters to display, information on becoming part of the Google Teacher Academy and how you can become part of the Google Teacher Academy.

2. Google App’s for Education. The applications on offer from Google to be used in the classroom offer educators and students free and customizable tools that allow students to work more collaboratively and with greater ease. This is a path that i have gone down with my own College. One app, gMail, Google’s email application, offer schools up to 900 free gmail accounts, each with approx. 7.5 GB of online storage! A massive amount!

3. K-12 Guide to going Google. This links will give you tools and guidelines to assist you in getting your schools, teachers and students up and running regarding using all things Google App’s. A very helpful site!

4. 100+ Google Tricks that will save you time in School. What’s not to love about a title like that? Here you’ll find tips on everything from using Google Docs to Search Tricks to Google Books.

5. The Google Classroom. As this site states, “Google has not only taken over the world, but they are positioned to take over many of the classrooms!” There are great links here for everything Google and Education. Just follow the links.

6. Google Sites. The Quick and Easy way to create your own website, on anything, for free! Excellent alternative for a wiki or blog if you’re after something more in depth.

7. Google Earth. Sure, we’ve heard of it. I will be money that one of the first things you did on it was look for your house. Maybe used it for directions or looked for a famous landmark. But… it can be used for so much more…

8. Google Tools for Schools: Google Earth. An outstanding resource which will help you embed such a great application to your teaching and learning programs!

9. Google Earth World History Tours. This Wikispace gives you acces to specifically created Google Earth Files that trace the footsteps of some of the greatest events and people in mankind’s history. A classic example of someone taking a tool such as Google Earth and utilising its features for teaching and learning purposes.

10. Google Public Data Explorer. Here you’ll find excellent public data that Google has sourced and placed here for you to utilise and explore. Things ranging from European unemployment by country, road transport figures, global broadband performance, US Population and many more. Great classroom discussions can be had from the data sets given here. Well worth a look.

And last but not least…

11. Google Reader. I felt as though i was somewhat blind and deaf for not having seen or heard of  Google Reader before! For those who have a gMail account, Google Reader allows you to suscribe to specific blogs and websites that you love to get information and happenings from. I can hear the sceptic saying, but i suscribe anyway and get email alerts when a new post or blog is updated… Correct. BUT… Google reader allows you to collect all of these updates in one place, with out the need to visit all of the countless blogs, news related sites and the like you may follow. A great tool for making life in the technical world… easier!