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Google summit success

Bahrain News
Sun, 17 Apr 2016
By Noor Zahra

Bahrain: A two-day summit, aimed at educating teachers on how to incorporate the use of technology in the classroom, was hailed as a great success.

Educationalists and experts highlighted the importance of electronic gadgets in keeping up with today’s fast-paced world.

The second annual Bahrain Google Summit featuring Google Apps for Education, which ended yesterday, was hosted by St Christopher’s School at its Saar campus.

It was organised by EdTechTeam, a team of educational technologists associated with Google.

The team consisted of eight members, of which four key speakers were from the EdTechTeam in the US, two teachers from St Christopher’s School and two others were Google-certified teachers based in Kuwait.

“We want to inspire teachers to think outside the box,” said EdTechTeam educational technology co-ordinator Mark Hammons.

“Children are evolving quicker and we want to make sure the older people are up to date with the latest technologies – to use the tools at their disposal, whether it’s the phone in their hand or technology in their classroom.

“We also need to teach them not to accept  the status quo and keep developing because children are evolving quicker and we want to make sure we stay up to speed with them.

“If we could summon up the event in one word it would be Empower.”

He described how Google apps can enhance the teacher’s methods of teaching.

“Today, we spoke about Google forms which allow me to quickly gather massive amounts of data and make better decisions in my class.

“You could also use it to create online quizzes.

“The main things we discussed also included Google sites, docs and drive, which are components of Google apps.

“In addition, Google search allows me to find contents much quicker because now I have learnt the tools of my trade and how to search more effectively.”

Mr Hammons also spoke about the importance of integrating tablet computers in the classroom.

“We also discussed the importance of using iPads in the classroom and how to enhance designs through that.

“Those were really popular topics especially as a lot of St Christopher’s School students have iPads.

“We educate teachers about the new things in technology.”

Ninety-five per cent of the participants at the summit were teachers with tech-co-ordinators, principals and heads of schools making up the rest.

Kuwait’s American International School Design teacher Geoff Layman emphasised the importance of teachers sharing information through social media.

“I spoke about how teachers can connect with other teachers from around the globe. Social media gives them an audience, who are not geographically limited.

“They will be connecting with everyone else and opening up to all sort of different ideas and perspectives that they might not have in your own school.”

Mr Layman’s wife, instructional coach for technology integration Lissa, described the importance of Doctopus, a photocopying app.

“It’s an add-on for Google sheets that makes copies for you with a ton of different varieties you can share,” said Ms Layman.

“The premise is that you don’t have to use the copy machine and can do it all through Doctopus.

“You can create a template and tell Doctopus you are going to use this template and put a roster in for your class and make a copy for every student and it shares with them automatically.

“You can also share it with specific groups in your class and that’s the innovative part.

“Doctopus gives teachers the ability to mass-copy (from a starter template), share, monitor student progress, and manage grading and feedback for student projects in Google Drive.”