Last week, I had the opportunity to deliver a presentation at the Google stand at BETT. Every year, Google for Edu offers the possibility to a few teachers and schools to showcase their work at their booth. Needless to say, it is quite the chance since, given the nature of the event, you are able to convey your message to an incredibly diverse and massive audience.
I never hide my love for making connections and working collaboratively with other teachers, classes, or schools. I’ve written extensively about it here, here, here or here. And so my choice of topic was a no-brainer: I combined my love for all Google things with international connections.
With The Traveling Book project as an example of what an international collaborative project can be like, I set out to show how the core apps of G Suite can provide the digital scaffold necessary for projects of this magnitude.
Google+ can prove to be an incredible platform to connect to other teachers. While it is true that most of my connections and activity is on Twitter, Google+ has not disappointed me so far. You can find communities of teachers willing to share and engage, from GEG groups to specific communities aimed at connecting classrooms (see this one or this one, eg)
Google Docs (and Sheets, and Slides, and basically Drive)
Any teacher who wishes to embark on a collaborative or international project needs to use an inherently collaborative app that will save countless headaches and time. When you are working on a such a large-scale project you need to work with collaborative tools like these, because there’s miles, oceans, and time zones between you and the people you are working with. If you are new to G Suite, I highly recommend this site.
I will always have a soft spot for Hangouts, even if it is usually relegated to a lower-status app. Hangouts is a no-frills, user-friendly app that will give you more than you can imagine. All it takes is a little imagination.
The technology used should be like oxygen: ubiquitous, necessary but invisible. It should also be powerful enough to allow for crazy ideas like this one to come to life. But at the same time, it should be user-friendly and intuitive enough so that the effort is not placed on figuring out how to use the tool, but rather on getting the most out of it with as little effort as possible. And finally, it should allow for collaboration. Alone we are smart, together we’re brilliant like the quote goes. It’s the power of collective intelligence. Now, if as educators we aim at developing, among other skills, collaboration in our students, then we must walk the talk and collaborate ourselves as professionals.
One of the SWE17 coaches who came to the presentation, Anders Wockatz, challenged me to upload my talk to YouTube. I think that, though slightly terrifying, it is a great piece of advice. So in a huge exercise in vulnerability, I’m sharing it on the blog. If you want to watch it you can do so here. If you are interested in seeing the presentation deck, you can find it here.
“The most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other. Without collaboration, our growth is limited to our own perspectives” Robert J. Meehan