Joining the Google Apps for Education Certified Trainer Community

ImageI am honoured to have been recently accepted to join the worldwide community of Google Apps for Education Certified Trainers. While this designation allows me to better offer training to my peers and colleagues working to effectively implement Google Apps in their classrooms, it also allows me to personally connect with a fantastic group of like-minded technology educators. This is particularly important, as, as far as I can tell, I am currently the only Google Apps for Education Certified Trainer in Korea!

It always amazes me at the amount that educators are willing to share and collaborate even if it means no obvious immediate benefit to them. Google Apps for Education are a fantastic resource to employ in any classroom, but their dynamic nature means that functionalities and tools are updated and change on a regular basis. Having access to a global community of fellow trainers means that I can help the learners and educators that I work with to stay on top of these developments, and have an overflowing talent pool to tap into should I encounter problems that need solving.

The process for becoming a Google Apps for Education Certified Trainer is a long one, and one that is itself undergoing changes. But if you’re looking to explore Google Apps for Education further, I’d recommend you start by exploring some of the training opportunities online (and keep an eye open for upcoming changes and updates), or even better, by attending a Google Apps for Education Summit in person. These resources will help you connect with passionate Google Apps users and trainers on the way to building your own global learning community!


Researching Google Style

I recently was able to present a couple of sessions at the first Korean Google Apps for Education summit, held at Seoul Foreign School. These events are always high energy whirlwinds, and I’m always left impressed by the many innovative things that people are doing with their students.

In one session, I focused on using various Google tools (Google Scholar, News, and Books) and conducting smarter Google searches when undertaking research. While the slides from my presentation are really just an outline, they may help to build an understanding of just how much is possible when you dig deeper with these very helpful free resources.

As with most things Google, the various interfaces, toolbars, and menu options for these tools regularly change as the products are improved. In its attempt to simplify things (which will be appreciated by the majority of users), advanced settings and features can sometimes become hidden away. But these options can be critical to allowing users to explore the full potential of a given tool, and so it’s worth spending some time playing around and finding the settings and filters that can help you to become a more effective researcher.


Google Teacher Academy

Sydney, I barely saw thee.

Sydney, I barely saw thee. © Brian Farrell

The past few months have been quite busy, but most definitely busy in a very good way.

After attending the Apple Distinguished Educator Institute in Bali in March, I was fortunate enough to also be accepted to the most recent Google Teacher Academy as part of the Google Certified Teacher program. Completing these two programs so close to each other gave me a better understanding of the ethos of both companies and how they are supporting education, and I know that I have already benefited and grown professionally from these events.

The Google Teacher Academy, held at Google’s offices in Sydney, was a very intense few days, but I certainly appreciated the hands-on sessions and practical nature of the event. All of our discussions seemed to be very much rooted in growing our pedagogical practices, and there was a buzz of energy as people shared how they are using Google’s products to enhance learning in their classrooms.

What I probably appreciated most about my experiences at Google was the collaborative nature of our activities there. Googlers (Google employees) and lead learners (Google Certified Teacher alumni) worked together with us to regularly share and learn from one another. Much like what I could garner from the culture of Google itself, there was a very flat hierarchy and an openness to working together regardless of position or stature. This learning continues online within the network of connections that I have now established with fellow Google Certified Teachers.

The next Google Teacher Academy will be held in late July in Chicago, and I would fully encourage anyone who is working with Google tools in their classrooms to consider applying. While intense, the event itself and the community it connects you with represent an incredible opportunity to grow your understanding of educational technology and how it enhances learning.


Google Art Project

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Tokyo © Brian Farrell

About two weeks ago, I had the fortune of attending and presenting at the Tokyo Google Apps for Education Summit. The event was a bit of a whirlwind weekend, and I walked away with plenty of ideas and plenty of admiration for what a lot of other fantastic educators are already doing in their schools.

One resource that I keep talking about to people after the summit is the Google Art Project. On this site, Google has collected hundreds of extremely high resolution images of major works of art from around the world. Each work has an accompanying description, links to relevant videos, and many even allow you to zoom out into a Google Streetview mode where you’re standing in front of the work in its gallery. The level of detail in these images is incredible, and for many, is likely greater than what you would be able to perceive with your eye even when standing right in front of the painting. There are many obvious applications for how this resource could be used in art classrooms, but there’s a great deal of relevance for history and geography lessons as well, particularly when you start to examine the descriptions and notes behind each work.

As with anything, there are a couple of things that could be improved on with the site (the artists are listed by first name for some reason, and there are some major works missing), but this is a tremendous free resource that every teacher should be aware of. Many thanks to Jim Sill for introducing me to this fantastic site!


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