When I first started my career in education I considered myself a technologist. I was interested in anything digital and used technology in my everyday life. I also loved teaching ICT. However as my time in the classroom and my increasing research work moved on I became more focused on the literacy-based view of technology and in particular the work of New Literacies Studies (Street, 1997; Pahl and Rowsell, 2005), Multiliteracies (New London Group, 1996) and Critical Literacy (Comber, 2001). I have always had an intense interest in educational technology but in recent years I have been primarily viewing it through the lense of a range of communitive systems in which we engage and create meaning in the world – in short technology is part and parcel of being literate.

Photograph by Lisa Thumann

It was with mixed feelings that I applied for Google Teacher Academy UK. I knew it was primarily focused on ‘edtech’ and would have a large proportion of delegates who were technologists. As part of the ‘New Literacies Gang’ I felt I might have been out of place. However, I was keen to learn more and see what Google had to say. I produced a one minute application video (below) and was thrilled to be accepted as one of 50 delegates from across the globe.

I went to ‘GTAUK’ with a very open mind, not knowing what to expect. Were Google going to preach to me? Was I required to command the word of Google after I was certified… I wasn’t sure. But in the end the day turned out to be one of the most inspiring, interesting and ‘tour de force’ professional development events I have ever attended. The sessions delivered by the likes of Lisa Thumann, Tom Barrett, Zoe Ross and Doug Belshaw were exceptional and the way that Google Apps for Education were presented was excellent – use what is right for you. As a teacher I was thrilled to discover lots of really creative ways of using apps such as Google Docs – for shared writing, collaborative poetry, assessment for learning as well as Google Maps for planning stories, mathematics and even plotting next year’s vegetable patch. As a New Literacies researcher Google offered many new ways in which multimodal and interactive media can be harnessed to promote a ‘new’ type of literacy in schools. Evidently Google has been instrumental in the development of many new literacy practices  in our lives and the fact that they have educational versions of their apps means that developing such web 2.0 practices in schools is much easier and safer. I look forward to sharing some of the ways Google Apps for Education can be used in the classroom with the teachers and researchers with whom I work.

What also struck me as a fundamentally inspiring and valuable part of the day was the fact that I got to meet so many great people. As a person  who has been out of the ‘tech’ network for a couple of years while focusing on New Literacy Studies I found it invaluable to speak and learn from so many different people from different backgrounds. It was a day of serious information overload but also well worth the mental effort required. It was probably a good thing that I went on holiday two days later and had the chance to reflect on what was a sensational event.

If you ever have the chance to attend a Google Teacher Academy then I highly recommend that you do. For more information visit:

http://www.google.com/educators/gta.html

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