Sunday, April 20, 2014

Google Goodness

This week I was lucky enough to visit Google in Sydney and spend time with other GCT's getting a good Google kick up the behind (aka reboot).  It had been about a year since I was last here for the Google Teachers Academy and I was ready for the fast paced learning ejection.

If you haven't checked out Google's new Google for Education site is is well worth a visit.  From tools to training to success stories, there is so much to explore.

First up Adam Naor shared insights about Chromebooks. He talked about some of the features coming up and whats next for the future of Chromebooks.  He also mentioned Microsoft Office (word, excel, powerpoint, outlook) is now in the chromestore.

Brett Morgan, a Google Developer took us through "deep thinking the Google way".
How do we design: Always come back to the problem
  • Identify the Problem
  • Decide on metrics (define success): figure out something that can be measured
  • Brainstorm solutions: come up with ideas
  • Choose a solution
  • Prototype: test with users - the user is right, not you = adaptability, keep designing until it is right for the user, not the developer!
  • Iterate: try over and over and over again and learn. Get what they build out in front of people for feedback and redesign.  
Then Sally-Ann Williams who is Google's Engineering Community & Outreach Manager, discussed the importance of computational thinking and computer science in schools.  Australia have got a new General ICT capabilities curriculum where coding should be introduced in primary school.  She talked about the future of our learners and the advantages they will have if they have coding knowledge.  Having CS + X, where computer science will be paired with x which is what you are passionate about.  Sally-Ann used the example of medicine and computer science, to cure cancer, what an advantage it will be to be able to write the computer programme (instead of waiting for someone else to). Main takeaway - coding matters!  Where does Google fit into this? They have a great resource in exploring computational thinking, with lesson, resources and how to get started.

Next Ramesh Nagarajan, a product manager on Google Drive was literally in the firing line.  He hosted a Q & A on Google Drive.  One of the first questions up was when would we be able to merge cells on a document.  We were given insights that basically equate to Google Drive becoming a lot more this space!

Tim Lee wowed us with Google Glass. He discussed ways Google Glass could be used in classrooms and how augmented reality tools such as Layar are able to interact with Google Glass.

Jenny Magiera hosted a grip jam. Using a pre-organised google doc, we were given around 4 minutes (the length of a song) to fill in the gripe column which could be any gripe we have at our school or with tools. Next, the Goo Idea - we had around 8 minutes  (the length of two songs) to fill in possible solutions to people's gripes.  +1 Collaborama was around 10 minutes (3 songs) in length and we added our contact details to the last column meaning we could be included in future communication (either to help with solutions or hear possible solutions) around this gripe.  This was a great way to collaborate and connect with people in the room and see what was on top for many. Jenny then shared her experience of running a playdate. An interesting way to run a conference where educators gather to share and just play. People Learning and Asking Y: Digital Age Technology Explorer. Read more about the conference concept and its conception.

We then moved on to hear from some people in the room. Kimberly Hall and Chris Hart shared their success with Google Educator Groups (GEG) specifically in Melbourne. These community groups are independently run by educators for educators and is a great platform for sharing.  

As the day rounded to a close, Matt Richards bought out his Oculus Rift, showing the next generation in virtual reality technology - truly mind blowing!

So the day wound up. My brain was full and it was off to laser tag, dinner and karaoke...but that is another post!

Check out the new Google for Education video: what does it mean for a classroom or school to "go google"?

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