Home > Uncategorized > “The Age of Google”

“The Age of Google”

There’s been a lot of fuss about the upcoming Google Teacher Academy for Administrators lately. I look at the site and the application process and was quite disturbed with what I saw. I saw a huge attempt at privatizing education. From the little “Im a Google Teacher” badge every accepted applicant recieves to the application itself, it appears that Google is not content with dominating the virtual world but is infecting our school systems.

First off, these badges. As written by David Jakes on his blog, I agree that teachers tend to miss out on a lot of local recognition which can create a dire need for it. This, however, is the totally wrong way to do it. Teachers are flaunting this, and other corporate sponsored logos, on their blogs and pretty much any appropriate opportunity. These badges do not symbolize your portfolios, your work, and the lives you’ve helped to shape. All they do is help get that company’s logo. I’m not saying teachers should not be proud of their professional developments, but the fact that you maintain a blog and the lesson plans that you develop say far more about you as a teacher than a small image file.

Then I saw the application. One of the most important requirements is the 1 minute long video that MUST be posted on Youtube (owned by Google) on the following topic: “Innovative Education Leadership in the Age of Google”. Something about that makes me feel uneasy. “The age of Google”? Somehow this “Academy” is beggining to sound more like a Google indoctrination camp. I am definitely curious to know what actually goes on. The whole seminar reeks of corporate sponsorship.

It’s hard to determine the line on where recognition and support in education should come from. Views vary from 100% government to 100% corporations. I personally am unable to determine my own line the sand but I know that this “Academy” should be taken with a grain of salt. For a badge you can truly be proud of, you should have to do a little more than  make a quick advocation video for a company to attend a 1 day seminar.

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  1. December 19, 2009 at 9:14 PM

    Nathan: yes, that statement about the Age of Google is somewhat problematic-it stuck with me as well when I read the description. Yet, they are a business and they are all about promoting themselves, so I guess I understand it to a sense. The badges statement is more problematic for me-you have “right to post the GCT web badge on their website or blog.” Really?

    I think you have the right perspective when you say “These badges do not symbolize your portfolios, your work, and the lives you’ve helped to shape.” Thoughts like those will serve you well working with kids.

    Thanks for the post.

  2. December 19, 2009 at 9:32 PM

    As a recently indoctrinated (is that even the right word) Google For Educator,#gtaco I can say that my peers in the central office crack on me every chance they get. Much of what you said is right on, and so was @djakes honestly, but there are still valuable “connections” so to speak that come from a group going through anything, whether a teacher academy or some other group convention, training etc. I can say that as someone who has attended a number of conferences in person and virtually the two best “sustaining” conversations were this experience Colorado Learning. So, while reeking of “corporatism” there were some great connections made while I was there. And as much as I am against Big Business, I admire Google’s persistence in open source and their drive to share their work and content with developers and educators.
    I think this conversation needs to happen, so thanks for bringing it back to the forefront.

    Here is my response and the link to @djakes original post. (http://strengthofweakties.org/)
    Thank you for this post. I agreed with you for much of my career. It was a post by Bud Hunt (http://budtheteacher.com/blog/2006/10/) that really Challenged my thinking on this topic. His post a year later is something that I read again when GTA came through Colorado. http://budtheteacher.com/blog/2007/04/10/oh-boy-just-what-ive-always-wanted/ My position as an online learning specialist and the launch of our large district employment of Google Apps made me re-think and re-evaluate my opinion. I was lucky enough to attend an “ACADEMY/BADGE” conference (#GTACO) in August. I learned some and made some good connections with great teachers that otherwise I may not have met face to face. With the explosion of twitter as a social communication/connection tool I realize that there is power in connecting like minded teachers together in a physical or virtual environment. Google, in this instance, met a need and connected teachers within my state and teachers I was excited to meet from elsewhere that I had met, followed or “tweeted” with. I would say that while it seems cliquey (great post by Ben Wilkoff on cliquishness of web 2.0, http://learningischange.com/2009/02/17/eletism-in-the-edublogosphere-or-edublarbification/) badges really are a connection device and in the cases I’ve seen, (MAC, DISCOVERY, and GOOGLE) it really is a conversation starter. I was and I am excited to be part of a network like the GCT, I don’t think the certificate or acknowledgment makes us better teachers necessarily, but it does connect some like minded folks in a positive way and for that I am grateful to have been chosen and given the chance.

  3. December 19, 2009 at 9:32 PM

    I attended the Google Teacher Academy (GTA) at Googleplex in June ‘o8. Google offers an array of online tools that have been embraced by educators. The entire GTA experience is led by real educators from all over (not corporate Google folks) who share how their learning and teaching experience has been transformed by the use of collaborative online tools. The members of “Google Certified Teachers” (GCT)continually share lessons, ideas (both Google and non-Google) through an active listserv group. Honestly, it’s one of the best professional learning communities I have ever been involved in!!!

    We joke about having drunk the Google koolaid – and we are quite aware that we are the best advertising that Google has for the education community. Many other corporations also offer professional development seminars: Discovery Education, Apple, and Adobe. I don’t mind promoting certain companies if I believe in the products and use them actively in my classroom – like Diigo and Wikispaces. I’m wondering how posting a “Google Certified Teacher” badge on your website is any different than wearing a NIKE logo on your t-shirt. It says something about you – what you are proud of – or how you brand yourself.

    Consider joining a group of us GCTs on Wednesday January 6th at 6pm (PST) for our Google Dinner Club webinar. It’s a casual get together that is open to ANYONE and we share learning activities that we are doing in our classrooms. You can bring up your concerns to the group and we’d be willing to discuss them with you.

    By the way, the dinner club webinar was a project started by Cindy Lane after GTA – she isn’t required to continue to organize the monthly meetings but she does because we have found a learning community we love to share and chat with.

  4. roblyons
    December 19, 2009 at 10:45 PM

    I believe that the Google Teacher Academy is very much misrepresented amidst all the hype of the upcoming GTA for Admins. I don’t disagree with the assertion that badges tend to have an elitist attitude to them.
    However I think it’s not at all about the badge so much but the community that the badge represents.

    The GTA is not about tools, it’s about connections. It’s about bringing people together to talk about the possibilities of powerful change in the ways we teach and our children learn. People tweet, blog, and evangelize the GTA not because they have been successfully Googleized. They don’t tag/brag the #gta to show that they are now part of the club. They do so in participation in a powerful learning community.

    I do agree with David in that the GTA is light on pedagogy. Again I believe that the real end goal of the GTA is to build a community of learners. The GTA is a transformational experience and I recommend that any teacher passionate about learning and teaching do whatever is necessary to get to a GTA.

    Best of luck with your studies. The fact that you’re blogging this passionately about your field of study is evidence that you are indeed a fine educator.

  5. December 19, 2009 at 10:46 PM

    I must be honest, I am a Google certified teacher. I enjoyed reading your post because I am a great believer in diverse opinions. On some level, I agree with you, there is a bit too much “Google Worship” going on out there. For me though, Google represents a set of values that I think are important: collaboration, problem solving, and critical thinking. My goal is to develop a “Google like” culture in my classroom. The badge that I display on my website represents my commitment to doing things different and better than they have been done in the past.

  6. Nathan Wagner
    December 20, 2009 at 4:02 AM

    I thank everyone for the insight (especially from those who have attended the GTA) that they have provided.

    To those who have found great use out the academy I am truly happy that you could. I recognize that, while privately sponsored, there is still many benefits that can come from such event.

    My own personal opinion of Google is somewhat met with skepticism though I still marvel at the tools it offers. Ms. Cassenelli I was never one for enjoying logos branded on my shirts so perhaps you’ve found the deeper root of this post.

  7. Ken Shelton
    December 20, 2009 at 11:19 AM

    Nathan, very interesting post. For the longest I was in the same boat as you. I often wondered what all those badges and accolades meant as far as the quality of the instructor. However, since then I have had the privilege to become a Google Certified, a Discovery STAR, and an Apple Distinguished educator. The badges are only the surface of what is a much deeper and broader thing. One cannot simply become these because they make a good video or have a particularly stellar application. You ask about portfolios or work, well it is those very things that give those of us these opportunities. I see it everyday in my school how many of the board certified teachers are the “leaders on campus” and one was nominated as teacher of the year 2 years ago. Yet not one of them would ever be considered for the aforementioned because they are doing nothing innovative or revolutionary in the classes. In fact, and quite humorous, one brags about integrating technology since she lets her students type papers on Microsoft word rather than writing them on paper. I often hear it from my own students that they would rather be taught with the technology and tools readily available to them and not the same ways their grandparents were taught. In the end the greater good trumps any badges or corporate elements to them. Because of Apple, Google, Discovery, etc. teachers that are active, innovative, and technology savvy are able to provide more for their students than almost all of those that are not.

  8. December 21, 2009 at 8:40 AM

    Nathan,
    David’s blog struck a nerve with me in August just as yours has. You can see my thoughts (and those of others as well) here: http://tzstchr.edublogs.org/2009/08/15/response-to-badge-of-honor/

    I think when anyone immediately dismisses these opportunities as advertising for the corporate world, they are truly not understanding the opportunities they provide for building community and growing your PLN. That’s why most of us who apply do so–to meet folks and grow our opportunities to learn and share.

    Through your sharing you’ve encouraged many folks to voice their opinion and share. THAT’S what it’s all about–conversations and challenging each other to think deeply about educational issues.

  9. December 23, 2009 at 5:02 PM

    Hey, Nathan. I’m the director of the Google Teacher Academy… and it turns out I read your post (almost right away thanks to a Google Alert)… and the offending phrase was removed almost as quickly. See a more detailed response to your post (and others) in my blog post here: http://edtechlife.com/?p=2448

    I just wanted you to know that your reflections had an impact. :)

  1. January 14, 2010 at 3:29 PM
  2. February 5, 2010 at 11:30 PM

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