Google’s not a substitute teacher

Often we can make the assumption that technologists are trying to tell us how to go about the business of schooling with little understanding of learning and teaching.

Today I caught up with Tom Mills, Google’s Global Director Enterprise Education in San Francisco who made the following points:

1.    Google is in the business of technology not teaching – they don’t want to get involved in the work of teaching, rather they want to provide a range of enabling tools that are useful to teachers to go about their work

2.    The tools aren’t education specific – Google want to develop tools that have a variety of business and real world applications; they aim to make them accessible to allow for a broad range of uses

3.    You have to sweat to achieve equity – you can’t just wake up and become the next Mark Zuckerberg in the digital stakes; unless you become literate in the tools you won’t know how to make them work for you; you need to put in the work to get the best results

4.    Curiosity is king – the tools are just the tip of the iceberg; teachers need to unlock the potential of the technology and enable learners to do the same; curiosity is part of the fundamental 21st century skillset for today’s learner

It was great to hear this from a leading global expert in technology. For us it reinforces what we already know: as educators we can’t use technology in isolation or as a 21st century substitute for teaching.

The business of learning and teaching is not Google’s; it’s ours. We need to put in the hard yards to unlock the potential of current and emerging technologies to better serve our work as teachers and our students.


4 thoughts on “Google’s not a substitute teacher

  1. Greg, thank you for this post. I agree with these sentiments because what we want is a learning journey for our students, parents and teachers.These tools enable our community to engage with each other, develop a relationship that enhances learning and have a means of showing my learning through digital portfolios.
    The essence of learning is the relationship we have with our students in guiding them and collaboration. The tools allow them to explore, discover and share with others.
    Recently I had the wonderful experience of listening to Yong Zhao, an inspirational educator talking about global learning and having a curriculum that is blended allowing students to personalize their learning and making it 24/7. Technology is at the heart of making this happen

    1. Great points, Peter. I’m currently writing another post on this very topic. It’s the relational aspect of teaching – recognising and responding to the diversity each student brings – that will make the biggest difference to their learning. Stay tuned! If you have a video of Yong Zhao, I’d love to see it.

  2. Excellent points. It seems too often the slant is toward finding a tool that makes like easier rather than finding a tool that has greater benefits. Google has been a provider of that for me in that I’ve been able to create and make something that meets a need in my own classroom but there has definitely been some hard (obsessive) work on my part getting to where I want to be.

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