Google tools provide learning options
Five NSW public school teachers from across the state were recently immersed in the innovative world of Google.
The teachers, who were selected through a rigorous application process, joined more than 50 educators from 13 countries for the Google Teacher Academy at the company's Sydney offices.
Over two days the teachers were treated to a number of bleeding-edge ideas in teaching delivery using Google's Apps for Education - a set of communication and collaboration tools Google offers to education institutions for free.
They were shown tools that would make their teaching life easier and more dynamic, received resources to share with colleagues and designed lesson plans using online tools in classroom contexts.
Building on student knowledge
Participant Yvette Poshoglian, an English teacher at Leumeah High School, said technology in the classroom was about building on what students already used - the ways they liked to learn and "capturing that space for them".
"It's trying to capitalise on their interest in social networking, technology; they're comfortable in that area and I want to be able to meet them in that same space to challenge them and give them ideas, and make them go on little excursions online."
Ms Poshoglian said simple tools like Google Maps could give students a three-dimensional experience of a text.
She gave the example of the novel To Kill a Mocking Bird where students could instantly explore its location and culture.
"A student can go online now and see a map and do a tour of the Deep South ... we can start a discussion with a school for instance, in Alabama," she said.
No boundaries to learning
Ms Poshoglian said the main message she had learned during her time at the academy was there were no boundaries in how learning could be delivered.
"A lot of the time we think that we can't do things and there are limitations - but it's about thinking differently," she said.
Participant Joachim Cohen, a project officer in the department's information technology directorate, said it was important to help teachers to learn to use online tools that were reflected in the workplace.
"The number of businesses using cloud-based tools is growing every day. As a result we need to have our students ready to work in that kind of environment," he said.
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