"What's GTA about?" is a question that people have often asked me. Many people assume it's about learning how to use Google tools. While Google tools were used during the workshop, because they provided a particular solution, for example collaboratively editing a lesson idea on a Presentation slide or tagging where we are from with Google Maps, they were not the focus of the event. This is because, as mentioned at the event, many of us were already familiar with Google tools and were already purposefully integrating these tools into our teaching or everyday activities. GTA was about getting us to open our minds and getting us to think big (#moonshotthinking). The use of the tools is something that will naturally follow if it suits the purpose of what we are trying to achieve.
When I was sorting through my photos to accompany this blog post, I had unintentionally grouped them into what I think are three themes that seemed to summarise my experience at GTA pretty well: 'The Experience', 'Design Thinking' and 'Community Networking & Collaboration'. These ideas seem to be a fitting way to tell my story and experience at GTA 2014.
Around 50 educators across Australia and New Zealand were selected to participate in the Google Teacher Academy. This selection was based on our application process, involving a 1 minute video and a series of answers to questions about moonshot thinking in education, who we are and what we do, our vision and why we wanted to be part of the GTA.
The 2-day event was co-organised by Google and NoTosh but the core structure of the event was developed by NoTosh. NoTosh, is a company that works with schools, companies and governments to work on pioneering ideas that have a meaningful and exciting impact. What a fitting team to work with the GTA community!
This GTA was hosted at Google's Sydney site and who could ask for a more inspiring location than Google to foster and develop moonshot thinking and grow innovative ideas? This place is seriously the mecca of flexibility, openness, vibrance, innovation, experimentation, risk-taking and creativity, which is just perfect for a group of educators intended to solve education challenges! Throughout the experience we had plenty of opportunities for visiting and dining in different locations within the Google company. Without revealing any top-secret details, I can safely say that they have a vibrant workspace, beautiful views and delicious food cooked by chefs.
Design Thinking: From Immersion to Ideation
So, what is Design Thinking? Design Thinking is a process that's usually adopted in the creative industries, particularly in product and service design. Tom and Hamish from NoTosh, re-designed the GTA (from the previous year) and took this approach to have us at the GTA working on solving education challenges in our local communities. Now this wasn't just any old challenge because it was paired with the Moonshot Thinking concept (see previous post below). The goal was to come in with a challenge in mind and to exit the GTA with a greater idea of how you might go about solving your challenge - with an 'action plan' in mind. Here's my challenge and idea that I have pitched for my GTA project. It is about bringing CS Education resources into public library spaces which can be freely hired by teachers but also used to run CS Education sessions for children. I'll be writing separate posts about this journey and process in more detail.
Here is a 90 minute Design Thinking Challenge by NoTosh that you can even do in your schools or any other workplace. I think it's actually also a great model to devise outreach initiatives and develop research strategies and I know that I'll be using this method in the future. In fact, my flight home from GTA had me so inspired that I was using the design thinking process to type up some moonshot thinking ideas about how we might urgently scale F-6 Computing Education Research!
Community Networking & Collaboration
However, there are many passionate and driven educators who may have applied to GTA - or didn't apply this year - and I strongly urge you to apply next year! I know that if they had unlimited space they would have tripled the intake. Let's keep this community of GCTs growing and let's keep launching moonshots all around Australia and New Zealand and the world for years to come!
Meet Your Google Certified Teachers for 2014!
If you'd like to see more of what went on a the GTA, search for the hashtag "#GTAsyd". Stay tuned for more posts about my journey working on my GTA project!