Category Archives: Google for Education Blog

The official source for information about Google’s education-related efforts

How three teachers turned classroom inspiration into action through the Certified Innovator Program

Editor’s note: Teachers are always brainstorming creative ways to introduce technology and project-based learning into the classroom. Designed to challenge educators to pursue their creative ideas, the Google for Education Certified Innovator Program offers support for projects that improve education in schools around the world. Over 12 months, educators conduct research, solicit feedback from peers in their cohort and prototype their ideas. Today, we’re highlighting three teachers who participated in the Certified Innovator Program and are inspiring other educators to turn their ideas into action.

We are excited to announce the dates for the rest of the 2017 Innovation Academies, the kickoff to the program for each cohort. Applications are now open for our next Academy in Washington DC.

  • Washington DC, USA: August 2-4 [Apply Now]
  • Sydney, Australia: August 16-18
  • Stockholm, Sweden: October 4-6
  • Sao Paulo, Brazil: December 6-8

We recently spoke with three inspirational educators about their experience in the Innovator Program and the ideas they brought to life: Charlie Shryock, who created eThanks, an online gratitude site for teachers; Matt Wigdahl who designed a makerspace project called SolverSpace; and Carrie Anne Philbin who created Geek Gurl Diaries to inspire girls to pursue careers in the technical field.

Q: What inspired you to pursue your project?

Charlie: A few months before I was accepted into the program, I was talking with a colleague about the ‘invisible’ works she does — for example, mentoring a younger colleague in her own time. She isn’t compensated for this work, but does it because she’s passionate about helping others. For a while, I had been trying to find a way to acknowledge teachers for the amazing things they do.

The real moment I knew I had an idea worth pursuing was during a reflection exercise with my Certified Innovator Program cohort when we identified what we’re good at — I’m good at seeing the good in others. I was inspired to put that skill to good use. I spoke to Google employees and saw their enthusiasm for a tool called gThanks, an online site where people post messages of gratitude. That’s when I decided to adapt the idea for educators and created eThanks.

Matt: In science class students often learn by reading textbooks and listening to lectures, but they don’t have much choice in their science projects. I wanted students to explore science in a meaningful, engaging way with real life applications. I came up with the idea for SolverSpace, which is part makerspace and part badging system, as a way to bring innovative tools like 3D printers, time lapse cameras, lego robotics and sensors into the classroom.

Carrie Anne: In 2012 I noticed that the majority of students in my computer science class were boys; in a class of 26, only two were girls. I wanted to change the paradigm around women and technology by sharing the stories of women doing technical jobs. Then I met James Sanders [founder of Breakout EDU] who introduced me to educational videos on YouTube. That’s when I realized I could use YouTube to inspire girls to pursue STEM. I started interviewing women in computing, science, technology and engineering roles and featuring them on Geek Gurl Diaries to challenge their perceptions about traditionally geeky subjects.

Q: What was your biggest takeaway or learning from the Innovator Program?

Charlie: The check-in points and milestones made sure we were engaging in regular reflection about designing our projects. Without the program, this would have been a fun idea that I likely wouldn’t have acted on. Having accountability partners and mentors inspired me to create something that I would be proud to share with my cohort.

Matt: A turning point for me was when I talked to a couple people in my cohort about my idea and they said, “Have you thought about design thinking?”, which I had never heard of. After talking for 10 minutes, I instantly knew this concept would be central to my project. Had my cohort peers not exposed me to design thinking, I likely would have spent tons of time reinventing the wheel.

Q: What was your biggest learning once you launched your project back at your school?

Charlie: When I returned from the on-site program, I wanted to dive in, so I ran a summer pilot at my school. Immediately teachers started posting thank yous and more people were smiling on campus. The expressions of gratitude online encouraged people to say thanks in person too. That pilot period reinforced in my mind that you need to just start. I went into the program with a big, bold idea of transforming the culture of feedback in schools, and I realized I should start with a small part of the puzzle.

Carrie Anne: One of the biggest things I learned from this project was if you build it, people will come. I was passionate about creating this series of videos, but didn’t know if young girls would watch them. You have to have faith in your ideas. Now I get emails all the time from kids around the world saying they watched a video and were inspired. Their “thank you” emails make every moment of this project worthwhile.

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Charlie working on a group activity with other members of his cohort during their Innovator Academy

Q: What advice do you have for educators who have innovative ideas and need help putting them into action?

Matt: Extend your arm to those in your community and great things will happen. When I started tweeting about the project, an engineering professor at the University of Wisconsin responded and asked to partner his college students with my fifth grade students to work on projects and learn from each other. For example, our district occupational therapist asked our class to build a modified utensil for writing to help a student who doesn’t have full use of his wrist. Our students fully embraced the problem and worked together to come up with a solution.

Carrie Anne: Say yes and try new things. If you never try something, you’ll never know how it could have turned out. I could have failed hard and fast, but I was passionate about this project, so regardless of the result, I knew it was the right thing to do. Failing is a first attempt at learning. When I look back at the first videos I created, they had awful lighting and editing. But if I look at where I am today, I’m not only hosting Geek Gurl Diaries but also hosting computer science videos on CrashCourse.


Apply for the Washington DC Innovator Program cohort today or nominate an educator for a future cohort.

Source: Education


How Google Translate is making learning English fun in Israel

Using neural machine translation, we’ve just updated Hebrew and Arabic languages on Google Translate. But what you can’t see on the surface is that these translations also improved thanks to students across Israel. As English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students used the Google Translate Community platform to learn and practice their English, they actually improved translations for everyone in the process.

Adele Raemer is an Israeli English teacher, a trainer for English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and digital pedagogy at the Israel Ministry of Education; she’s also a Google Certified Innovator, a Google Educator Group leader, and blogger.

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Adele Raemer, English as a Foreign Language teacher and trainer at Israel’s Ministry of Education

When Adele first used the Translate Community as tool to teach English, she was impressed by how eager and motivated her students became. She wanted other students to share in the experience, so with the support of the Ministry of Education EFL superintendent and our education team, she turned this into a challenge for classrooms across Israel. The goal was to help students work on their vocabulary, develop critical thinking and translating skills and enhanced their engagement with English studies.

Last spring, 51 classes from across the country joined our Google Translate Community pilot competition. A month later, the class with the highest number of collective contributions joined us for a visit to our Google Israel office. The teachers used the challenge as a fun activity on top of their regular curriculum. As Mazi, an English teacher at “Hodayot” high school, said: “The experience of participating in the competition was very positive and enriched my teaching. Any time that a student finished a task early or had a bit of time at the end of the lesson, they could be productive by going into the site and translating!”

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Winning class from Jadeidi-Makr science school who won a visit to the Google Israel office

Inspired by the success of Adele's pilot program, the Translate Community team then built new tools that allowed group contributions and measured results more accurately. With new supporting lesson plans, more than 150 classes participated in a three month competition for Hebrew-English and Arabic-English. From these two competitions, 3,500 students translated and verified more than 4 million words and phrases.

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English teacher from the winning school, “Nitzanim” school, with a student translating during a lesson

We’ve incorporated this multi-lingual knowledge into the training for our cutting-edge neural technology, which we’ve just launched today for Hebrew and Arabic. That means every one of these contributions helped improve translations for millions of people doing translations to or from these related languages.

We were thrilled to see the great impact that these students had on Translate itself. It’s so cool to see how the next generation of students is working hand in hand with the next generation of machine translation technology!

Source: Education


It takes a district to implement technology

Editor’s note: Google for Education Premier Partners are working with schools to host the ExploreEDU event series, where schools can share their first-hand experiences with other educators. Today’s guest author is Gary Lambert, Director of 21st Century Learning at Beekmantown Central School District, which hosted an ExploreEDU event on March 9-10 with Best Buy. To see if there’s an event near you, visit the ExploreEDU site.

In 2013, the superintendent charged our district technology committee—comprised of board members, teachers, administrators, parents and students—to come up with a plan that would provide an equal education opportunity for all students. Beekmantown’s poverty rate is the highest in Clinton County at 53%, and 30% of our students don’t have access to the internet at home. Given the profile of our population, we needed an affordable and flexible technology solution that would allow us to put devices in the hands of every student inside and outside of the classroom. Chromebooks, and G Suite for Education fit our needs perfectly because they are easy to manage, simple to use, and affordable.

In our experience deploying this new technology, we had to include every group—the board, administration, faculty, and the students—in the process. Here are a few things we learned:

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Students learn how to use technology responsibly prior to receiving Chromebooks

1. Engage tech-savvy teachers in a pilot

We spoke with five other districts about their technology rollouts and learned the importance of getting teachers who were heavy technology users to love the tools first, as their buy-in would be critical in getting other teachers on board. In our first phase, we hoped for five teachers to sign up for our digital classroom pilot, and got 43 instead. Once other teachers saw how helpful the tools were for their colleagues, they wanted to introduce technology to their classroom, too. In the next two phases, an additional 140 teachers signed up. The teachers who participated in the pilot were the ones who pulled everyone along and encouraged the more reluctant teachers to branch outside their comfort zones.

2. Build trust and support between the administration and faculty

The support of our board, superintendent and administration was critical in ensuring teachers felt comfortable taking risks when adopting the new technology. For instance, our principals learned how to use Google Classroom so they could show teachers how useful the tool was. Our leadership also encouraged teachers to take risks, and reassured them that failure was a positive learning experience. As a result, we saw many teachers working with their students to try new apps in the classroom such as Peardeck, EdPuzzle, and Quizlet to enhance their lessons.

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Beekmantown’s board getting a virtual reality demo at a board meeting

3. Get students to teach

Technology also offers students a great platform to share their expertise. Early in our technology program, students ran our IT help desk that provides on-site support and replaces parts on Chromebooks. Our students are also instructing their teachers how to use technology. When a teacher didn’t know how to use Biteable, an online animation maker, he asked one of his sixth grade students to create a how-to resource, which has been shared with teachers across all grade levels and other schools. Involving students as teachers has allowed us to amplify the impact of technology in our district.

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(L) Students in 5th Grade using Chromebooks in Mrs. Dickson's Classroom; (R) Since deploying Chromebooks and G Suite, Beekmantown has observed a decrease in discipline referrals (the number of times someone is referred to the administration due to disciplinary issues) and an increase in Grades 3-8 assessment scores (state mandated English Language Arts and Math tests).

When everyone plays a role in introducing new technology it generates excitement and tangible results. Since adopting this new technology, our attendance rate has increased and student achievement has improved across all grade levels and subject areas—specifically algebra, U.S. history and English language arts.

In the past, we would hear comments about why new initiatives couldn’t be introduced. Now, our staff would ask why a new idea isn’t possible.

Technology has shifted our district from a “can we?” to a “we can and we will” mindset.

Source: Education


The She Word: Rosie Rios, former U.S. Treasurer, “Be brave, be empowered, be yourself.”

Editor's Note: In a special guest edition of the She Word, we talked to former U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios about the work she’s done (in and outside of government) to inspire and empower young women. 

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Let's start off with an easy one ... tell us about your work as U.S. Treasurer.

As U.S. Treasurer, I oversaw the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the U.S. Mint, and and was a senior advisor to Secretary Tim Geithner. But my main focus in my eight-year tenure was putting a woman on the U.S. currency for the first time. We engaged the public to decide which historic women would be featured—there were roundtables and townhalls, and a social media portal for people submit their suggestions via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. This effort wasn’t about one woman, or even 10 women, but about the hundreds of women overlooked in our history. I call these women “buried treasure.”

How did this lead to your current efforts to inspire and
empower women?

We learned about a lot of amazing women during the selection process, so we put all the information in a database, and posted it on the Treasury’s website. Now that I’ve left the Treasury, I am working on an initiative called Teachers Righting History, which gives teachers and students access to the database so that they can recognize the contributions that women have made to American history. They can do this in any way they choose—one of my favorite examples was a young man in high school who choreographed a dance about Margaret Hamilton’s experience as a software engineer working for MIT and NASA. It was really powerful.

How does Teachers Righting History influence young girls?

Girls’ experiences in school shape their confidence. What they are exposed to has the same influence as what they are not exposed to. So if they aren’t seeing women celebrated in history lessons or in the classroom, they get the message that women are invisible, and then will question their own value and abilities. When we shine a spotlight on women who have changed history, their accomplishments will inspire other women to change the world, too. And here’s what’s also incredible ... Teachers Righting History is resonating just as much with boys as it is with girls.
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Here's an example of an International Women's Day Expedition—this one gives you a glimpse into what it's like to work at NASA.
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Rosie's playlist of amazing women. Rock on. 

You teamed up with Google for International Women’s Day. Can you tell us about that?

I worked with Google’s Education team to create some cool stuff through Expeditions and YouTube. Let’s talk about Expeditions first, they are amazing on so many levels! I’m a huge fan of the visual arts. Videos, pictures, and today’s technology allow kids to connect much more powerfully with information and data—they can almost feel it and that is how they learn.

For International Women’s Day, we created 40 new Expeditions to expose kids to career paths they never knew existed. They could experience what it’s like to be an astronaut, an engineer, a UN policy advisor, a female firefighter and more. We are giving young girls a glimpse of these careers now, so that they’ll be inspired to pursue those careers one day. Our future leaders need inspiration in order to have aspiration.

I also worked with the YouTube team to create a YouTube Kids playlist called “Super Women of Our Past,” about the women who shaped our country’s history. Some of these women are already in history books (like Eleanor Roosevelt and Harriet Tubman) and others are less well-known—so this is another way to help young kids discover the buried treasure I mentioned before.

Back to the buried treasure … who is an example of a woman you discovered and never knew about before?

Grace Hopper—she was one of the pioneers of coding. Imagine what it would look like if this generation of young girls grew up wanting to be the next Grace Hopper?

If you could ask one woman from history a question … who would it be and what would you ask?

I can’t pick just one! I’d want to ask all of them, “what did you want to be when you grew up?” A person’s aspirations as a child are so important, but most of these women grew up during a time when their options were limited.

When you were growing up, did you ever dream that one day you’d be U.S. Treasurer? What did you want to be when you were young?

I never in a million years thought I’d work in the federal government, but I had no doubt that I would go to college. I was raised by a single mom, and she sent all nine of her kids to college during a time when the dropout rate for Latino communities was really high. I always wanted to be a lawyer, and I thought I’d go into family law. I wanted to be a champion for families like my mom was. She was the one who would drive someone to the doctor if they needed a ride, or would hold a meeting at our house about installing a stoplight at the corner. My mom was my first exposure to true feminism.
My mom was my first exposure to true feminism.
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Here is Rosie with her son Jack, her mother and her daughter Brooke. 

You worked at a local library when you were in high school. Who are your favorite fictional heroines?

I have always loved Shakespeare’s female characters—Viola in “Twelfth Night” and Rosalind in “As You Like It” are two of my favorites. There’s a rebellious side to these women. They had a protest mentality, whether it meant dressing as a man to get their way or speaking their minds, even though it wasn’t “ladylike.” These characters are defiant and I love their spirit.

If our daughters lose, we all lose.

You worked in the highest levels of government. What would you to say to women who are considering a career in government, but are intimidated by entering the public sphere?

There are a few ways that I think about this. First, you have to find your voice. When I asked why it’s taken so long to get a woman on U.S. currency, the answer was “no one brought it up.” I found my voice on this issue, and it led to an important change.

It took us eight years to get there, which brings me to the second piece of advice: be persistent. I approached this project the same way I’d approach any job—I did my due dilligence and I stuck with it, I never wavered.

The last important piece is to find your champion. Most of my champions have been men with daughters. They invested in me because of the future they envisioned for their daughters. If our daughters lose, we all lose. When I was sworn in as U.S. Treasurer, my daughter asked why my secretary was conducting the ceremony. She thought Tim Geithner was my secretary! I raised her to believe in a world where I am the boss and a man is my secretary.

Source: Education


Using technology to empower students and turn them into critical thinkers

Editor’s note: Google for Education Premier Partners are working with schools to host the ExploreEDU event series, where schools can share their first-hand experiences with other educators. Today’s guest author is Kyle Black, a high school English teacher from First Philadelphia Preparatory Charter School, which hosted an ExploreEDU event on March 21-22 with Promevo. To see if there’s an event near you, visit the ExploreEDU site.

In a world dominated by technology, a good education depends on digital know-how—in addition to problem solving, clear communication and organizational skills. Students need both digital and soft skills to guide them through college, into the workplace and beyond.

In my five years on the job, here’s what I’ve learned about teaching a generation of students to use technology in responsible and impactful ways:

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A student uses Google Classroom to turn in an assignment.

1. Empower students to take control of their learning

High school students are learning how to work independently and use technology to explore new concepts. When AP English students come across a word they don’t know in Shakespeare’s “King Lear,” for example, they can look it up on their Chromebooks rather than ask me for the definition. Students love proving me wrong about facts related to classic literature like “The Crucible” by researching on their Chromebooks—and their eyes light up when their point of view is validated. With classroom technology, we’re teaching students to take charge of their own learning and engage in healthy debate.

2. Quiz students often to assess understanding

Every day my students take mini-quizzes via Google Forms so I can gauge whether they understand the topic I just covered or if I need to modify my instruction. When teaching semicolons, for instance, my students take a four-question quiz using their Chromebooks to identify sentences that use semicolons correctly. If 75 percent of the class gets a question wrong, I know to back up and explain the concept in a different way or provide more examples. This not only improves their academic performance, but it also it teaches them the importance of clear communication and continuous feedback.
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A student works on a Google Doc where feedback was provided via comments.

3. Turn feedback into a critical thinking exercise

It’s common for students to accept a teacher’s revisions to their work without considering why specific changes are made. By making the feedback process interactive, students are encouraged to think critically before accepting edits at face value. For example, when I’m reviewing essays or creative writing, I often suggest incorrect or ridiculous changes using comments and suggested edits in Google Docs—and my students know this type of feedback is coming. Typically, half of my edits will require students to think deeply before hitting the “accept” button. It forces them to play a more active role in their learning, and to constantly challenge ideas.

I believe that teaching students digital and critical thinking skills matters more than teaching them how to ace a test. To prepare students for lifelong success, we must encourage them to brainstorm new ideas and embrace the new tools at their fingertips.

Source: Education


Howard University opens a new campus at the Googleplex

When I joined Google a decade ago, there was hardly any discussion of diversity in tech. This was long before we published our diversity numbers or understood how important it was for our workforce to reflect the diversity of our users. This was also long before we started formally recruiting from Howard University, a historically Black institution.

Howard happens to be my alma mater, so I am especially proud to share that our formal recruiting from the university has evolved into a residency for Black CS majors right here at the Googleplex. “Howard West” is now the centerpiece of Google’s effort to recruit more Black software engineers from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)—and to make them feel right at home here in Mountain View.

One of my all-time favorite quotes comes from acclaimed management consultant Peter Drucker: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” This is exactly the thinking behind Howard West, as the program is a way to create a future that reflects the values of diversity and inclusion Google has held since day one. With a physical space on campus where Howard students and Googlers can grow together, I can only imagine what innovation and creativity will come to light.

Rising juniors and seniors in Howard’s computer science (CS) program can attend Howard West, for three months at a time. Senior Google engineers and Howard faculty will serve as instructors. The program kicks off this summer and we plan to scale it to accommodate students from other HBCUs in the near future.

HBCUs are a pillar in the CS education community, producing more than a third of all Black CS graduates in the U.S. Google already has a strong partnership with Howard through Google in Residence (GIR), a program that embeds Google engineers as faculty at Howard and other HBCUs.  

Through GIR we’ve learned a lot about the hurdles Black students face in acquiring full-time work in the tech industry. The lack of exposure, access to mentors and role models are critical gaps that Howard West will solve. We’ve also heard that many CS students struggle to find the time to practice coding while juggling a full course load and part-time jobs. Left unchecked, systematic barriers lead to low engagement and enrollment in CS, low retention in CS programs and a lack of proximity and strong relationships between Silicon Valley, HBCUs and the larger African American Community.

We envisioned this program with bold outcomes in mind—to advance a strategy that leverages Howard’s high quality faculty and Google’s expertise.

“Howard West will produce hundreds of industry-ready Black computer science graduates, future leaders with the power to transform the global technology space into a stronger, more accurate reflection of the world around us. We envisioned this program with bold outcomes in mind—to advance a strategy that leverages Howard’s high quality faculty and Google’s expertise, while also rallying the tech industry and other thought leaders around the importance of diversity in business and the communities they serve,” says Dr. Wayne Frederick, President of Howard University.

During my time at Howard, I worked side-by-side with future lawyers, doctors, writers, entertainers, architects and business leaders. The spirit of total possibility put me on my path to Harvard Business School and ultimately Google. Howard West will continue Howard’s tradition of providing unprecedented access to opportunity, only now with a presence in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Source: Education


Helping to close the education gap

Even after four years of primary education, 130 million students around the world haven’t mastered basic subjects like reading and math. Limited access to quality materials, under-resourced teachers, and barriers to learning outside the classroom present challenges for many children.

Through Google.org, we’ve given more than $110 million over the past five years to help close gaps in education—whether globally through early and ongoing support for innovators like Khan Academy or focused specifically on how we can support future technologists through our support for CS education organizations. Today, we’re expanding on those commitments with our largest dedicated portfolio of $50 million over the next two years to support nonprofits who are building tech-based learning solutions that tackle these challenges. To start, we’re funding nine organizations around the world that we will also support with Googler volunteers in areas like user experience design, translation, offline functionality and data analytics. By the end of 2017, our goal is to give grants to education nonprofits in 20 countries. And later this year, we’ll be looking for the next round of innovators to join them.

GEI EDU Grant-graphic0.png

Our education grants will focus on three areas where technology can help: giving more students access to quality learning materials, supporting teacher development, and reaching students in conflict zones. Get to know some of our grantees below, and learn about the ways they’re using technology to help close the education gap.

Giving kids the right materials

Around the world, students in low-income communities have to learn with fewer books, out-of-date texts, and materials that are culturally irrelevant or even in the wrong language. Technology can bypass the geographic and financial boundaries that block educational resources from reaching students, while also making those resources more engaging, interactive and effective.

GEI EDU Grant-graphic1.png

One of our first grantees in this area is the Foundation for Learning Equality, which builds free open-source software to bring online materials—including books, video tutorials and quizzes—to the 4.3 billion people who lack consistent access to the internet. Their new platform, Kolibri, runs on numerous devices and helps educators access, organize and customize digital content, even in the most remote locations. So far they’ve brought 7,000 videos and 26,000 interactive exercises offline for students in about 160 countries.

Our funding, along with Google volunteers providing technical support, will help Learning Equality build a bigger content library and scale their reach to hundreds of thousands of new students. This summer, Google engineers and product experts are volunteering to spend four weeks working side-by-side with Learning Equality’s product team in areas such as UX/UI, content integration, and video compression technology.

Keeping teachers trained and engaged

Having a great teacher is one of the best predictors of a student’s academic success, but in many countries there simply aren’t enough of them. By 2030, India alone will need 3 million new primary school teachers just to keep up with its growing population of students.

Google.org is helping local leaders invest in digital tools that offer teachers quality training and confidence-building tools that encourage creativity in the classroom. The first of these grants goes to Million Sparks Foundation's ChalkLit, an app-based platform that combines bite-sized, curriculum-aligned content with an online community to support first-rate teaching. Google engineers volunteering their time and skills will advise the Million Sparks team on how to optimize the ChalkLit app for teachers in low-bandwidth and offline environments.

Helping students learn in crisis

Thirty-two million primary school-aged students can’t reach traditional classrooms because of violent conflict and displacement. Quality primary education is especially important to kids who, living in camps or other hard-to-reach settings, are highly vulnerable to poverty and exploitative labor.

One interesting approach to this problem comes from Google.org grantee War Child Holland, whose game-based method, Can’t Wait To Learn, children affected by conflict from falling behind by providing a year of lessons and exercises that align with a host country’s curriculum.

Data collected from Can’t Wait To Learn’s first deployments in Sudan showed that students learned significantly from the approach, with boys and girls progressing at equal rates. Supported by Google product experts who are volunteering to help build their product road map and expand their tech team, War Child Holland aims to reach significant numbers of children in the Middle East and Africa the next five years.

We’re continuing to work with these grantees, and are aiming to expand our efforts throughout the next year. If you’d like updates on our program, please let us know. We look forward to continuing this work to make education more equitable for children around the world.

Source: Education


Helping to close the education gap

Even after four years of primary education, 130 million students around the world haven’t mastered basic subjects like reading and math. Limited access to quality materials, under-resourced teachers, and barriers to learning outside the classroom present challenges for many children.

Through Google.org, we’ve given more than $110 million over the past five years to help close gaps in education—whether globally through early and ongoing support for innovators like Khan Academy or focused specifically on how we can support future technologists through our support for CS education organizations. Today, we’re expanding on those commitments with our largest dedicated portfolio of $50 million over the next two years to support nonprofits who are building tech-based learning solutions that tackle these challenges. To start, we’re funding nine organizations around the world that we will also support with Googler volunteers in areas like user experience design, translation, offline functionality and data analytics. By the end of 2017, our goal is to give grants to education nonprofits in 20 countries. And later this year, we’ll be looking for the next round of innovators to join them.

GEI EDU Grant-graphic0.png

Our education grants will focus on three areas where technology can help: giving more students access to quality learning materials, supporting teacher development, and reaching students in conflict zones. Get to know some of our grantees below, and learn about the ways they’re using technology to help close the education gap.

Giving kids the right materials

Around the world, students in low-income communities have to learn with fewer books, out-of-date texts, and materials that are culturally irrelevant or even in the wrong language. Technology can bypass the geographic and financial boundaries that block educational resources from reaching students, while also making those resources more engaging, interactive and effective.

GEI EDU Grant-graphic1.png

One of our first grantees in this area is the Foundation for Learning Equality, which builds free open-source software to bring online materials—including books, video tutorials and quizzes—to the 4.3 billion people who lack consistent access to the internet. Their new platform, Kolibri, runs on numerous devices and helps educators access, organize and customize digital content, even in the most remote locations. So far they’ve brought 7,000 videos and 26,000 interactive exercises offline for students in about 160 countries.

Our funding, along with Google volunteers providing technical support, will help Learning Equality build a bigger content library and scale their reach to hundreds of thousands of new students. This summer, Google engineers and product experts are volunteering to spend four weeks working side-by-side with Learning Equality’s product team in areas such as UX/UI, content integration, and video compression technology.

Keeping teachers trained and engaged

Having a great teacher is one of the best predictors of a student’s academic success, but in many countries there simply aren’t enough of them. By 2030, India alone will need 3 million new primary school teachers just to keep up with its growing population of students.

Google.org is helping local leaders invest in digital tools that offer teachers quality training and confidence-building tools that encourage creativity in the classroom. The first of these grants goes to Million Sparks Foundation's ChalkLit, an app-based platform that combines bite-sized, curriculum-aligned content with an online community to support first-rate teaching. Google engineers volunteering their time and skills will advise the Million Sparks team on how to optimize the ChalkLit app for teachers in low-bandwidth and offline environments.

Helping students learn in crisis

Thirty-two million primary school-aged students can’t reach traditional classrooms because of violent conflict and displacement. Quality primary education is especially important to kids who, living in camps or other hard-to-reach settings, are highly vulnerable to poverty and exploitative labor.

One interesting approach to this problem comes from Google.org grantee War Child Holland, whose game-based method, Can’t Wait To Learn, children affected by conflict from falling behind by providing a year of lessons and exercises that align with a host country’s curriculum.

Data collected from Can’t Wait To Learn’s first deployments in Sudan showed that students learned significantly from the approach, with boys and girls progressing at equal rates. Supported by Google product experts who are volunteering to help build their product road map and expand their tech team, War Child Holland aims to reach significant numbers of children in the Middle East and Africa the next five years.

We’re continuing to work with these grantees, and are aiming to expand our efforts throughout the next year. If you’d like updates on our program, please let us know. We look forward to continuing this work to make education more equitable for children around the world.

Source: Education


The She Word: Jen Holland and her career expedition

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re celebrating the powerful, dynamic and creative women of Google. Like generations before them, these women break down barriers and defy expectations at work and in their communities. Over the course of the month, we’ll help you get to know a few of these Google women, and share a bit about who they are and why they inspire us.

Today we’re talking to Jen Holland, a program manager on our education team who once played a humming game on the “Ellen DeGeneres Show” with Ellen and Vince Vaughn. (Before you ask, no—there’s no video.)

jen

You’re at a dinner party and someone asks what you do. How do you explain your job to them?

My team works on education products like Google Classroom and Expeditions (a virtual field trip app for schools) that aim to transform how teaching and learning happen in the classroom. As a program manager, I’m responsible for our product pilots in schools—where we work directly alongside teachers and students to develop our products based on what schools actually need.

I lead our efforts to bring Expeditions to schools all over the globe through the Pioneer Program, which has taken more than  2 million students in 11 countries on an Expedition. Finally, I’m responsible for all Expeditions content creation, which now spans more than 500 high-quality VR tours and 200+ teacher lesson plans. This week we added 40 more Expeditions which are all focused on women’s careers, and introduce students to what it’s like to work as an astronaut, engineer, or firefighter.

You've been on the Expeditions team from the beginning. What have you found most inspiring or surprising about the program?

The biggest joy I get is going into a class and seeing the magic of Expeditions take over. The students are totally engaged without even realizing it and ask incredible and inquisitive questions. The teachers can hardly believe what they are seeing and the smiles on their faces are just priceless. That’s what learning should look like every day.

The coolest part of Expeditions for me is that I had no background in VR or creating compelling VR content—let alone any experience running a global program. I spent tons of time watching YouTube videos, reading articles, going to conferences, and listening to podcasts to learn more about VR. It took a lot of trial and error, but as my dad always said to me, “if there’s a will, there’s a way.”

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I really wanted to work in “business.” My dad was a business professor and my first “investor” when I was a kid (think lemonade stands and sewing ribbon belts!). As I grew older and spent more time with my dad’s friends—like Bill Campbell, who was the chairman of Intuit and a beloved advisor to Silicon Valley companies—I became fascinated by entrepreneurship and product development.

I’m also passionate about helping college students get the skills they need to be competitive from day one. I learned so much of my important “soft skills” on the job—I wish I’d had more coaching and opportunities to learn about things like project management, budgeting, business modeling, giving and receiving peer feedback, upward communication, etc. in classes. That’s one of the reasons I love working on Expeditions—which can help students explore college campuses and learn more about other careers—and why I volunteer with students on entrepreneurship programs.

Tell us about one of your mentors who helped you get to where you are today.

My college accounting professor, Dawn Massey, was not only a fantastic teacher, but also encouraged me to pursue my crazy ideas. When I took my first accounting class in college, I was miserable. I hated accounting. But by spending so much time with her, I got better. I ended up switching my focus and moved into finance—something I’d never considered because I thought I was bad at math. Fast forward, I ended up with an MBA in Finance and accepted a role on Google’s finance team, which eventually led to my dream job—the one I have now.

My second mentor was someone I mentioned already—Bill Campbell. He was a dear friend of my dad’s, and always made time for me. I learned from him that it’s always important to make time for individuals who willing to put in the effort and succeed, whether that be through informal coffee chats, mentorships, reviewing resumes, doing mock interviews, etc. You can always make time to help someone out.

How do you spend most of your time outside of work?

My husband and I love to host and have friends over for dinner parties—or really any kind of parties. I LOVE craft projects, floral arrangements, and baking and cooking. I enjoy traveling—my favorite place to visit is Maine, where my family spends every Fourth of July. And I especially love the time I spend volunteering and engaging with students. I started a program that teaches college students professional development skills to help them close the digital divide in their school's communities, and also hit the ground running in a job or internship.

Source: Education


The She Word: Jen Holland and her career expedition

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re celebrating the powerful, dynamic and creative women of Google. Like generations before them, these women break down barriers and defy expectations at work and in their communities. Over the course of the month, we’ll help you get to know a few of these Google women, and share a bit about who they are and why they inspire us.

Today we’re talking to Jen Holland, a program manager on our education team who once played a humming game on the “Ellen DeGeneres Show” with Ellen and Vince Vaughn. (Before you ask, no—there’s no video.)

jen

You’re at a dinner party and someone asks what you do. How do you explain your job to them?

My team works on education products like Google Classroom and Expeditions (a virtual field trip app for schools) that aim to transform how teaching and learning happen in the classroom. As a program manager, I’m responsible for our product pilots in schools—where we work directly alongside teachers and students to develop our products based on what schools actually need.

I lead our efforts to bring Expeditions to schools all over the globe through the Pioneer Program, which has taken more than  2 million students in 11 countries on an Expedition. Finally, I’m responsible for all Expeditions content creation, which now spans more than 500 high-quality VR tours and 200+ teacher lesson plans. This week we added 40 more Expeditions which are all focused on women’s careers, and introduce students to what it’s like to work as an astronaut, engineer, or firefighter.

You've been on the Expeditions team from the beginning. What have you found most inspiring or surprising about the program?

The biggest joy I get is going into a class and seeing the magic of Expeditions take over. The students are totally engaged without even realizing it and ask incredible and inquisitive questions. The teachers can hardly believe what they are seeing and the smiles on their faces are just priceless. That’s what learning should look like every day.

The coolest part of Expeditions for me is that I had no background in VR or creating compelling VR content—let alone any experience running a global program. I spent tons of time watching YouTube videos, reading articles, going to conferences, and listening to podcasts to learn more about VR. It took a lot of trial and error, but as my dad always said to me, “if there’s a will, there’s a way.”

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I really wanted to work in “business.” My dad was a business professor and my first “investor” when I was a kid (think lemonade stands and sewing ribbon belts!). As I grew older and spent more time with my dad’s friends—like Bill Campbell, who was the chairman of Intuit and a beloved advisor to Silicon Valley companies—I became fascinated by entrepreneurship and product development.

I’m also passionate about helping college students get the skills they need to be competitive from day one. I learned so much of my important “soft skills” on the job—I wish I’d had more coaching and opportunities to learn about things like project management, budgeting, business modeling, giving and receiving peer feedback, upward communication, etc. in classes. That’s one of the reasons I love working on Expeditions—which can help students explore college campuses and learn more about other careers—and why I volunteer with students on entrepreneurship programs.

Tell us about one of your mentors who helped you get to where you are today.

My college accounting professor, Dawn Massey, was not only a fantastic teacher, but also encouraged me to pursue my crazy ideas. When I took my first accounting class in college, I was miserable. I hated accounting. But by spending so much time with her, I got better. I ended up switching my focus and moved into finance—something I’d never considered because I thought I was bad at math. Fast forward, I ended up with an MBA in Finance and accepted a role on Google’s finance team, which eventually led to my dream job—the one I have now.

My second mentor was someone I mentioned already—Bill Campbell. He was a dear friend of my dad’s, and always made time for me. I learned from him that it’s always important to make time for individuals who willing to put in the effort and succeed, whether that be through informal coffee chats, mentorships, reviewing resumes, doing mock interviews, etc. You can always make time to help someone out.

How do you spend most of your time outside of work?

My husband and I love to host and have friends over for dinner parties—or really any kind of parties. I LOVE craft projects, floral arrangements, and baking and cooking. I enjoy traveling—my favorite place to visit is Maine, where my family spends every Fourth of July. And I especially love the time I spend volunteering and engaging with students. I started a program that teaches college students professional development skills to help them close the digital divide in their school's communities, and also hit the ground running in a job or internship.

Source: Education