Tuesday, May 12, 2015

My Thoughts about Google's Education on Air Conference

This past weekend, I was honored to participate in Google's 2nd Education on Air Conference.  I will tell you that I have never met a more amazing and passionate group of educators as I did here.  For those of you that were not able to participate, don't worry.... you still can.

Friday's keynotes were amazing.  I was most inspired by Bethany Wenger.  Bethany was the winner of the 2012 Google Science Fair.  As a breast cancer survivor, I was eager to hear how she created a cloud-based neural network to accurately assess breast cancer from fine needle aspirate samples.  The program she created when she was 17 years old correctly diagnosed 94% of cancer cases and correctly identified 99% of the cancerous cases.  (Fox News)  I was overwhelmed by the accomplishments of this young lady.

I was also inspired by Richard Curtis.  Richard, along with UNICEF, has started a movement to create the "World's Largest Lesson".  In September of 2015, the United Nations will announce the "Sustainable Development Goals".  These global goals will help drive change by providing a framework of targets to guide policy.  There are seven themes that the seventeen goals are a part of.  Richard's goal is to have teachers all over the world create lessons to introduce the Global Goals in their classrooms the week of September 27th.  Can you imagine teachers worldwide all working together to teach these goals to their students to help eradicate extreme poverty and more?

Day 2 of the online conference consisted of the individual sessions, presented by over 100 educators, administrators, IT staff, and more.  Sessions were available in four strands - Educators, Administrators, IT, and Anyone.  Sessions for educators ranged from Flipping your Classroom, Using Google Forms for Assessment, Intro to Google Classroom and other topics like Ditching your Textbooks, Using QR codes and many more topics.  I presented Building your Personal Learning Network (PLN).  There were so many good sessions that there was no way I could watch them all.  Luckily, Google has archived all of them on the conference website - https://educationonair.withgoogle.com.  If the speaker posted resources, they are available there as well.

I met so many amazing people online during this conference.  Many of them connected with myself (and others!) on Twitter or Google+ afterwards.  The hashtag #GoogleEduOnAir was one of the top trending hashtags all weekend!   Folks from all over the world viewed these sessions and interacted with the presenters via the online Q & A sessions.  It's great to know that learning continues on outside the original event.  Some teachers have shared with me that what they learned this weekend was going to change the way they taught in their classroom.  Teachers were so inspired by what they learned and so was I.

If you didn't get a chance to watch the live event, I challenge you to visit the website and view some of these sessions.  As teachers, it is important that we never stop learning.  We need to meet our students where they are at - not only socially, emotionally, and intellectually, but also technologically!

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