OK, I got this cool opportunity to spend a few days at the Google for Education Champions Symposium at Google’s Dublin office. Who are these Champions? They’re a mix of Google Innovators, Trainers, and Coaches. The event was packed with Masterclasses, workshops, and talks, focusing on three themes: personal growth, tech skills, and brainstorming on new products and ideas. Plus, we got to check out some cutting-edge tools and sneak peeks of upcoming products. This Dublin event was the fifth out of seven happening globally, with the next ones in Sydney and Tokyo. It was a global meetup with around 150 participants, mostly from the USA.
Day 1: Personal Growth and Cool Experiences
The first day was all about personal growth. We gathered at the Foundry, grabbed Chromebook loaners, and hung out, snapping pics of the cool Google wall and the Hogwarts-style animated picture frames. Two highlights of the day for me:
- Izzy Wheels‘ keynote. Their motto, “If you can’t stand up, stand out,” totally set the tone. They’re this Irish company that makes these awesome wheelchair covers, collaborating with big names like Disney and Marvel.
- Neil Mullarkey’s workshop on confident and creative communication. To get a taste of what it was like, check out his recent Talk at Google: Neil Mullarkey at Google.
Day 2: Fast-Paced Learning and Retro Gaming Fun
Day 2 followed the fast pace of the first day with a selection of workshops covering topics from Accessibility, Retrieval Practice, and Screencasting. There were additional sessions, but they slipped my memory. The keynote was from one of the Dublin-based Google Reference Schools. They also had a number of showcase talks delivered by some of the attendees, which I attended, including Google Earth and SDGs, Differentiating Tech Coaching: Meeting Educators Where They Are, and Embrace the Future: Cultivating a Culture of EdTech Confidence in Schools. The Google AI session on Bard and Duet was one of the Masterclasses I really enjoyed, which made the journey up to the Big Smoke worthwhile. There was a fireside chat session where my friend Kaylah Holland shared her Break Free Education project. We finished up early on Day 2 as we had a trip to either the Dublin Storehouse, the Little Museum of Dublin, or EPIC, which I think most of the visiting champions enjoyed. The most memorable part of the day/night was the trip to Token, where many of us were transported back to our childhood, surrounded by the sights and sounds of classic arcade games. From Pacman to Street Fighter… the best location for CPD ever!!!”
Day 3: Wrapping Up with Insights and Ideas
The final day was a little shorter than the others, as people had travel plans. More workshops focused on gathering feedback on various Google for Education products. It also gave us a chance to bounce ideas off our new friends and learn about the challenges people face in other countries. It’s an opportunity we don’t get too often in Ireland to see how teachers elsewhere deal with their challenges.
To quote Wallace & Gromit, it was “a grand day out.'”