May 12 2015

7 Highlights from Google’s First Online Education Conference

Those who missed Google Education on Air when it was streaming last week can catch all the sessions still.

Educators are abuzz with lessons from Google’s first-ever online education conference, Google Education on Air.

The streaming conference, which ran online May 8-9, began with a simple question: "How do we prepare the students of today to be the digital leaders of tomorrow?"

A series of presenters offered their answers to that question, including Reading Rainbow’s LeVar Burton, educational researcher Michael Fullan and teachers from across the globe.

The following are a few key takeaways from the two-day event:

  1. To kick off the event, a representative from The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) unveiled the results of a global education survey. EIU editor Zoe Tabary said the three 21st-century skills deemed most desirable in today’s world market are problem solving, teamwork and communication.

  2. Only 28% of 11- to 17-year-olds say their schools are good at digital lessons, according to the EIU survey.

  3. Technology is not a silver bullet for education, said Google's Global Education Evangelist Jamie Casap. But educators can harness its power to enhance education.

    “Technology is an enabling and supporting capability. Our job as technologists is to make that technology easy to use, invisible, manageable and scalable,” Casap said.

  4. LeVar Burton reinforced the importance of literacy and the leaps his project, “Reading Rainbow,” has made in the world of digital media.

    “If you want to reach kids today, you need to be in the digital realm,” Burton said.

  5. Michael Fullan presented three steps to re-engage education: Create change leaders, stop boring students and bring about change from the middle.

  6. Laszlo Bock, senior vice president of people operations at Google, presented four lessons for building successful education organizations, leading with the quote: “Failure isn’t actually failure. It’s the single biggest learning opportunity our students have.”

  7. David Puttnam, a film producer and educator, offered statistics that underscore a growing gap between the perception of effective student preparation within educational institutions and in the job market.

Though the Google Education on Air event is over, more than 100 recorded sessions can be viewed online, divided across four intended audiences: educators, administrators, IT and the public.


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