I was lucky enough to attend a meeting on a cold Monday night of fifty like-minded educators at Google’s UK headquarters. Ostensibly to encourage further interest and evangelism of the Google Apps range of products, which are free for schools, it was also a great chance to meet others, share good practice and enjoy that feeling that the work you do in your school and class wasn’t really in isolation; that you weren’t on your own.
There were some familiar faces attending, the ‘inner circle’ of my PLN as I like to think of them,but the evening was far from closed and cliquey, as one may have considered. After a relaxed introduction by Ross Mahon, who has the fantastic title of of Google Apps Evangelist, where he laid out Google’s vision of Apps and their potential impact on Education, a range of attendees (including me) spoke, talking about the things we were doing in classrooms across the UK. Steve Bunce spoke of his work with VITAL, creating Teachshares, which seemed to be a discrete online version of a teachmeet. Next Jill Duman spoke about how Norfolk had ALL gone across to Google Apps, initially for email.
After a short but very tasty minglemunch, we eturned for a lively and at times quite fiery discussion on digital literacies and the desire for simpler products for younger pupils, led by the ever-brilliant Tom Barratt. These sound two very dry topics, but it became quite animated quite quickly! We then had a small announcement (covered below) and hear from Andy Alcock, who uses Google Sketchup to inspire his KS3 pupils, an entertaining spot from David ‘Deputy’ Mitchell on embedding spreadsheets, and Ian Addison finished with his version of a VLE, which was built from the children, for the children.
One of the highlights of the evening, it has to be said, is that we were all given a Samsung Chromebook, as a thank you for primarily attending, and for spreading the word about the impact that Google products can have. Ross underlined the fact that it is quite open – it wasn’t a Google-only promo, if something worked with children, it was shared. I’m writing this post on my Chromebook, and I have to say, first impressions are very good. It really does boot up in eight seconds, and seems very quite compared to my macbook.
Despite all the things I picked up and learnt about, and felt confident to attempt myself, the main highlight for me was getting to meet some people I have followed on twitter as @mrlockyer for a long time. Thank you for being so friendly, and thank you Google for the chromebook!