Google Teacher Academy

The Google Teacher Academy is an intensive two-day training event where lucky delegates are able to experience the wonderful surroundings of a Google HQ, learn about the latest tools and techniques that Google has to offer and then, if this wasn’t enough, complete an action plan of research afterwards to gain Google Certified Teacher status.

Added to this tantalising programme of opportunities is the realisation that these events do not appear in the UK that often at all.  In fact, there have been around seventeen GTA events since the first one in 2006 that took place at Google HQ, Mountain View, California.  Of those seventeen events only two have taken place in the UK, 2010 and 2012.  So when the advert to apply for this event in December was circulated on Google+ I was desperate to apply knowing that missing this one would mean either a delay of at least another two years OR an expensive flight and accommodation ticket.

The application is simple enough – fill out a Google Form answering a range of questions from your level of competence on Google Apps to a big blank space on why you want to attend the academy event.  To complete your application you have to produce a one minute video on one of three options.

  • Motivation and learning
  • Classroom Innovation
  • Positive Change in the Community

Thankfully my appearance in the video was not compulsory and a quick Google search showed me a number of other successful applicant videos to the academy.  The challenge would be which topic to choose and make sure i got my point across in one minute.

I choose to cover “Positive Change in the Community” for my topic mainly because it was a great fit with my current work with Google Apps but also because I wanted to avoid the Motivation and Learning heading.  My brief Google search showed that the vast majority of application videos were on this heading and I wanted to make sure that my video stood out as being different in the hope this would help my application.

Over the past sixth months I have led the set up of Google Apps in my school.  From our previous email system and Uniservity Learning Platform we now have….

  •  Each staff and student having 25Gb email and drive storage space
  • Realsmart is our new learning platform – a suite of tools to demonstrate learning and enable students to collaborate on a project
  • A new wordpress front end site to our Google Apps and Realsmart login page.  This allows me to create a secure online resource for staff and students.
  • On going staff training via a new CPD programme this year and will soon be training up some network monitors from year 7-9 to help staff and students get the most of the opportunities with this technology.

So now, instead of manually uploading pages of work on the old LP we now have the ability to share documents at the click of the button.  It is early days but so far staff and students have been…

  • Using Realsmart rcast to create a French class blog
  • More teachers are using Google Forms with Flubaroo which is now even easier to use as we can capture students email addresses automatically as a result of being logged into the domain
  • Some staff are using the voice extension on Google Docs to verbally record feedback on student essays – a fantastic way to leave effective feedback on essays without scribbling all over them
  • Support staff are creating folders that are shared across the school – this way, newsletters and regular communications can be dropped in and shared automatically AND we all know where to go to get hold of the latest or previous copies
  • We are now setting up email addresses and shared folders for our Governors – this will enable them to share documents with staff more effectively and, seeing as they will have the school email address book in their school email, help the communication between Governors and departments

So – I had plenty of material for my video but getting it into one minute wasn’t my only concern – I had no idea how to make a creative video that would impress the administrators of the academy.

After some searching I narrowed my focus to three video production packages,

I signed up to trial versions to learn how to use each one and try their templates.  I chose Animoto in the end, partly because I found it really easy to use but also because it had a great school based template which really was a good fit for my topic.

We all know about the inverse law that dictates the amount of time spent preparing for a presentation of specific length – the one minute restriction really made sure that I had to focus on the key points and kept transitions to a minimum time span.  Thankfully Animoto was really easy to tweak so it wasn’t too long before I had completed my application video.

I didn’t share it on Twitter at the time – I wasn’t brave enough to share it!  Having found other people’s videos vital in producing mine I want to make sure that others get the chance to see it instead of it remaining hidden in my You Tube.

On Friday evening I got the email confirming my place at the London Academy this December.  I yelled when I saw it.  It is a full on two days but an amazing opportunity to learn more about Google in schools and network with many amazing educators.


Google are sending out a pack on the 4th of November with more details on the two-day event – I’ll update this post with more details as they come out.

If you didn’t get chance to see the original invite to the GTA then can I suggest you sign up to Google+ and follow some of the Google Education team.   Fingers crossed the next event comes around sooner than 2015.

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