I was sitting happily on my Twitter stream recently and up flashed people excited about being selected to be part of #gtasyd and the thought struck me that perhaps these were people excited about playing a giant game of Grand Theft Auto in Sydney. I’m not a connoisseur of video games, but all power to them, I thought.
I discovered that in fact that they were selected to be part of the Google Teacher Academy in September. A free event when Google teaches them cool things about the Google suite of tech tools. Sounds pretty good and useful. So, I went and read about it and what you needed to do in order to be invited.
In order to get into the select group of 50, one needs to submit a video where you spruik yourself as a leader of learning doing innovative stuff as well as answer short questions – which, I gather is the same thing. Your application is then judged by an unspecified group of people against a set of unspecified criteria. It sounds a bit like a beauty pageant to me, where if you’re not creative enough, or innovative enough, or don’t know the right buzzwords to put in your video, you’re left to ponder why you’re considered not pretty enough by the Google Judges.
This is not to criticise those who put the videos in. I know of many great teachers who have no objection to that and have completed empowering, engaging videos. It’s more about Google making people jump through such hoops that I question. The idea that we need validation from a corporation. Also, why a rich corporation like Google can’t run a free workshop for anyone who registers. I can personally think of little else that I would rather do less than make a video telling others how good / creative / innovative a teacher I am. I also have a strong objection to essentially placing my self esteem in the hands of an unseen, unknown group of Google people. Therefore, there will be no video from me.
Ultimately, I will miss out on these things:
Educators who attend a Google Teacher Academy become Google Certified Teachers (GCTs). GCTs are:
- Outstanding educators with a passion for using innovative technologies and approaches to improve teaching and learning.
- Creative leaders who understand opportunities and challenges, and have a desire to help empower others in their local community and beyond.
- Ambassadors for change who model high expectations, life-long learning, collaboration, equity, and innovation.
After the GTA, GCTs are expected to positively impact change in their communities through a personal action plan. Other expectations to be announced.
In addition to two free days of training, GCTs get access to a private online community, opportunities to work closely with Google, a special GCT badge and more.
I am gathering the only people who can be GCTs and win the badge are people who have done the “Here I am, Google, Now Judge Me” video and are ready to enact the “positively impact change” thing – as well as being “Ambassadors for Change”. I gather the criteria for this “positively impact” thing will be set by Google for Google’s reasons. Same goes with the mysterious “private online community”, which seems to be actively trying to create a gap between these GCTs and the rest of us educators.
I really like Google and what they are doing for education – the company has revolutionised the way I teach, gather resources and share them with students. I am able to work on my daily commute purely because of Google. The shared google doc has made collaborative learning a daily reality for the students in my classes. The Google Site has now become the hub for my teaching. However, this Google Teacher Academy is counter intuitive to the way teachers usually work. We work as a team, not as individuals grinning at cameras. We aren’t people who like to be the VIPs being ushered through the queue while the rest stand there watching on.
If I did submit a video, it wouldn’t be me talking about myself. It would be this.