Innovation is a Mindset: My Google Experience

Photo courtesy of Alicia Zeoli

Photo courtesy of Alicia Zeoli

Last week, with the support of my school, I had the incredible opportunity to attend the Google Certified Innovators Academy in Mountain View, CA. The program brought together 34 teachers from around the world to unlock creativity, translate insights into solutions, experiment rapidly, and build an effective innovation culture in schools and organizations.

The Academy was the kickoff of our yearlong collaboration, which looks a lot like Cohort 21. After this initial face to face session at Google, we are equipped with practical approaches, valuable tools and techniques, and the beginnings of an Innovation Project. Our projects will drive change in education, impact educators and students, and be documented for other educators to follow. Over the next year, we will work with members of our cohort, coaches and mentors to implement our projects. 

Photo by Mark Wagner

Photo by Mark Wagner

Upon returning from the Academy, many of my colleagues and friends asked me what cool new Google tools or addons I learned about. Everyone assumed that I was going to Google to learn about technology. But, our goal was not to learn about technology, it was to learn about innovation, This aligns with my belief that technology is not in itself a solution for education, but rather it can be leveraged to support good pedagogy.

Over the course of the three day Academy, we heard from many truly innovative people, ranging from the Co-Founder of Google Drive to a Search Evangelist, to the Director of People Development. Each speaker offered insights into how Google has developed a culture of innovation and provided “sparks” for us to apply their thinking to education. In between each “spark” we did “sprints” to develop our projects, loosely based around design thinking principles. And of course, there was a ton of fun team building activities incorporated.

Photo by Kevin Brookhouser

Photo by Kevin Brookhouser

So, how do I process all of this information? I have pages of notes and ideas, a massive pile of post-it notes, and a whole lot of work ahead of me. I’m going to start by writing a series of blog posts that highlight individual speakers. From there, I’ll start to share my plans and vision for my own Innovator Project, which will focus on interdisciplinary, student-driven learning that combines Design Thinking and Project Based Learning and *hopefully* results in a tool that teachers can use.

I’ll post links to each new blog post here as I write them. My goal is to write one post every other day until the end of March. Here goes…

Part 1: How to Build a Moonshot. Gina Rosales, X

Part 2: Systems Thinking. Kevin Brookhouser, 20Time.org

Part 3: Happiness & Emotional Intelligence. Roni Habib, EQ Schools

Part 4: Finding your Why. Jay Atwood, EdTech Team

Part 5: Designing Solutions for People. Jonathan Rochelle & Joel Solomans, Google

Part 6: Developing Informant Citizens. Daniel Russell, Google Search Evangelist

Part 7: Designing for Culture. Monica Martinez, EdTech Team & Sandra Chow, TDSB

Part 8: People Development. Erica Fox, Google

Part 9: Ideas to Action. Carrie-Anne Philbin, Raspberry Pi Foundation

Part 10: Dreams Come True. My Tour of d.school with David Kelley

In the meantime, here are some photos that capture the energy from the Academy. I feel so grateful to have spent three days with this incredible group of educators, many of whom I hope to call friends and co-conspirators for years to come.

Photo by Maggie Powers

Photo by Maggie Powers

Photo by Mark Wagner

Photo by Mark Wagner

Photo by Mark Wagner

Photo by Mark Wagner

Photo by Mark Wagner

Photo by Mark Wagner

Photo by Mark Wagner

Photo by Mark Wagner

Photo by Kevin Brookhouser

Photo by Kevin Brookhouser

Photo by Kevin Brookhouser

Photo by Kevin Brookhouser

Photo by Kevin Brookhouser

Photo by Kevin Brookhouser

Photo by Mark Wagner

Photo by Mark Wagner

Photo by Sandra Chow

Photo by Sandra Chow

Photo by Kevin Brookhouser

Photo by Kevin Brookhouser

Photo by Kevin Brookhouser

Photo by Kevin Brookhouser

Photo by Mark Wagner

Photo by Mark Wagner

Photo by Brandi Miller

Photo by Brandi Miller

Selfie by me

Selfie by me

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