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Our Faculty Institute brings faculty back to the drawing board

August 12, 2011

Nina Kim Schultz, Google Education Research

Cross-posted with the Official Google Blog

School may still be out for summer, but teachers remain hard at work. This week, we hosted Google’s inaugural Faculty Institute at our Mountain View, Calif. headquarters. The three-day event was created for esteemed faculty from schools of education and math and science to explore teaching paradigms that leverage technology in K-12 classrooms. Selected via a rigorous nomination and application process, the 39 faculty members hail from 19 California State Universities (CSUs), as well as Stanford and UC Berkeley, and teach high school STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) teachers currently getting their teaching credentials. CSU programs credential 60 percent of California’s teachers—or 10 percent of all U.S. K-12 teachers—and one CSU campus alone can credential around 1,000 new teachers in a year. The purpose of gathering together at the Institute was to ensure our teachers’ teachers have the support they need to help educators adjust to a changing landscape.

There is so much technology available to educators today, but unless they learn how to use it effectively, it does little to change what is happening in our classrooms. Without the right training and inspiration, interactive displays become merely expensive projection screens, and laptops simply replace paper rather than shifting the way teachers teach and students learn. Although the possibilities for technology use in schools are endless, teacher preparation for the 21st century classroom also has many constraints. For example: beyond the expense involved, there’s the time it costs educators to match a technological innovation to the improvement of pedagogy and curriculum; there’s a distinct shift in thinking that needs to take place to change classrooms; and there’s an essential challenge to help teachers develop the dispositions and confidence to be lifelong evaluators, learners and teachers of technology, instead of continuing to rely on traditional skill sets that will soon be outdated.

The Institute featured keynote addresses from respected professors from Stanford and Berkeley, case studies from distinguished high school teachers from across California, hands-on technology workshops with a variety of Google and non-Google tools, and panels with professionals in the tech-education industry. Notable guests included representatives from Teach for America, The New Teacher Project, the Department of Education and Edutopia. Topics covered the ability to distinguish learning paths, how to use technology to transform classrooms into project-based, collaborative spaces and how to utilize a more interactive teaching style rather than the traditional lecture model.

On the last day of the Institute, faculty members were invited to submit grant proposals to scale best practices outside of the meeting. Deans of the participating universities will convene at the end of the month to further brainstorm ways to scale new ideas in teacher preparation programs. Congratulations to all of the faculty members who were accepted into the inaugural Institute, and thank you for all that you do to help bring technology and new ways of thinking into the classroom.

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This program is a part of Google’s continued commitment to supporting STEM education. Details on our other programs can be found on www.google.com/education.</style="clear:>