10 ways Google’s philosophy can guide teachers

Google sums up its philosophy in its "Ten things we know to be true." Education could learn from most (but not all!) of them. (Sketch by Matt Miller)

Google sums up its philosophy in its “Ten things we know to be true.” There are great lessons for education in most (but not all!) of them. (Sketch by Matt Miller)

Google sums up its philosophy in its “Ten things we know to be true.” There are great lessons for education in most (but not all!) of them.

Google has become a household name and has infiltrated almost every part of our lives.

Need to find information? Google it.

Want to see a music video, documentary or other videos? Find them on YouTube (owned by Google).

Need to create files that you can share with anyone? Google Drive does that.

Have to pay but don’t have your credit card? Google Wallet will pay for you.

Google has its own cell phones (powered by Android), its own interactive glasses (Google Glass) and its own computers (Chromebooks), among many other products.

Obviously, Google is doing something right. The company has its priorities straight (well, in many ways …) and is succeeding. So, a look at its corporate philosophy could shed some light on how the world can succeed in this new technological age.

At Google Teacher Academy a couple weeks ago, I heard about Google’s “Ten things we know to be true.” They’re a collections of statements and rationale for each that are supposed to guide everything that Google does.

These things that Google knows to be true have some great guidance for us in the education realm. Some advice is more relevant than others because great education is fundamentally different in many ways from great business (even though politicians and the general public disagree sometimes). But there are some great maxims to follow in education based on Google’s philosophy.

Here are all of Google’s “Ten things we know to be true,” with some thoughts about how the connect to education:

1. “Focus on the user and all else will follow” — Teachers know their students better than almost anyone. They’re in a great position to make the best decisions for their education, and that’s not a power that should be taken lightly.

2. “It’s best to do one thing really, really well” — As educators, we often don’t have the luxury of being good at just one thing. But we do have our strengths, and if we can use those strengths to shine, they can outweigh our weaknesses.

3. “Fast is better than slow” — There are times when this is totally wrong in education, especially when those actions leave students totally confused or jeopardize their safety or comfort. But the education system — and individual classrooms — could learn from Google’s prototype and refine strategy. We’re too slow to make change sometimes. Jumping in to try new ideas and modifying as we go is much better than waiting until everything’s perfect. (And everything’s never perfect.)

4. “Democracy on the web works” — Democracy in the classroom works, too. The Internet is a powerful medium that threatens to make school irrelevant if we don’t help students learn what they need and want. Student voice is crucial. They know what they want and need (to some degree, at least) and should be able to weigh in. (By the way, this is a real weakness of mine. I know the immense value in it but have struggled in making it happen in my own classroom.)

5. “You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer” — Students don’t need to be in classes to need an answer. These days more than ever, we need students who are lifelong learners who have the skills necessary to find answers to their questions.

6. “You can make money without doing evil” — I really struggled to find an educational connection to this one! This one’s a bit of a tenuous connection, but here goes — Google follows a high set of standards regarding its searches, including identifying what’s an ad and what’s a search result. That way, everyone benefits. (OK, I’m not totally buying this one … help me out and write me a better No. 6 in the comments, would you?)

7. “There’s always more information out there” — Google found that it’s worth the extra work to identify the hard-to-find information out there and help people find it through searches. This sounds a lot like the challenges we can provide students in our lessons. The easy answers usually aren’t worthwhile in the end, and they won’t develop that grit and determination that will serve students after graduation.

8. “The need for information crosses all borders” — Google has found the benefits in going international. Tomorrow’s world will be a global one — even more than it is now! The more multicultural and worldwide we can make our classes, the better prepared our students will be for the future. Technology makes connections to almost anyone all over the world possible. Find ways to harness them!

9. “You can be serious without a suit” — Much of the traditional culture around schools is focused on obedience and formality. Students are told to sit quietly. Stay in your seat. Do your work without interruption. Don’t talk. Don’t share. You can do serious learning without school uniforms, straight desk rows and quiet classrooms. In fact, most students are wired for that kind of non-traditional learning!

10. “Great just isn’t good enough” — Imagine if Google had developed a great search engine and then became complacent. It would generate great profits and still be a leader in its field, but so many of its best products would never have existed. Even though it isn’t easy, everyone in every field can benefit from thinking bigger, newer and different. You’ll never know how far you can go unless you jump!

Question: Which of the Google philosophy statements really resonates with you? What would you add to any of them in relation to education? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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 DateEvent / Event DetailsCity / More Info
+ 01/19/2015
Western Wayne (Ind.) SchoolsPershing, IN
 Full-day Seminar:Ditch That Textbook: Why and How?Private Event
+ 01/31/2015
9:00-12:00 p.m.
U. Indy's Power of Education ConferenceIndianapolis, IN
 Keynote:Ditch That Textbook: My JourneyPublic Event
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+ 02/03/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
World Languages Workshop @ Lafayette Jeff HSLafayette, IN
 Venue:Jefferson High School
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Lafayette, IN 47905
Private Event
+ 02/26/2015
9:00-4:05 p.m.
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+ 03/18/2015
08:00-04:00 p.m.
Fall Creek Intermediate School WorkshopFishers, IN
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7:30-3:00 p.m.
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04:00-06:00 p.m.
PVETI Social Media WorkshopRockville, IN
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+ 04/11/2015—04/12/2015
08:30-05:30 p.m.
Indiana Google Apps for Education SummitFranklin, IN
 Sponsor:EdTech TeamPublic Event
Venue:Franklin Community High School
2600 Cumberland Drive
Franklin, IN 46131
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+ 05/01/2015
09:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook workshop @ CIESCIndianapolis, IN
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Indianapolis, IN 46278
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Education On Air by Google for Education 
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08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook workshop (CIESC) 
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Ivy Tech Community College Tech Workshop 
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PowerED Up ConferenceLeopold, IN
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+ 06/08/2015
Greencastle EdTech ConferenceGreencastle, IN
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+ 06/15/2015—06/16/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Summer Spark SymposiumMilwaukee, WI
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+ 06/22/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
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Digipalooza 2015Scottsburg, IN
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+ 06/27/2015
09:00-03:00 p.m.
#ReadTL15 ConferenceReading, West Berkshire, UK
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+ 06/28/2015—07/01/2015
ISTE Conference 2015Philadelphia, PA
 Full-day Seminar:Sharing Is Caring: Collaborative Google Apps ActivitiesPublic Event
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+ 07/08/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
USD 242 Weskan Schools Staff DevelopmentWeskan, KS
 Venue:Weskan Schools
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+ 07/22/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
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 Venue:Northeastern Middle School
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+ 07/24/2015
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Greater Clark Connected ConferenceJeffersonville, IN
 Sponsor:Greater Clark County SchoolsPublic Event
+ 07/28/2015—07/29/2015
Catching the Wave of eLearningLafayette, IN
 Sponsor:Indiana Department of Education Office of eLearningPublic Event
+ 07/30/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Seymour Schools Tech WorkshopSeymour, IN
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+ 08/10/2015
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 Workshop:The Digital PIRATE 
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+ 09/08/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
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08:00-03:00 p.m.
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+ 09/23/2015
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+ 09/24/2015
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 Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPublic Event
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08:00-03:00 p.m.
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+ 10/12/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
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+ 10/15/2015—10/16/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
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+ 10/22/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
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 Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPrivate Event
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+ 11/10/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Cascade Middle SchoolClayton, IN
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+ 11/11/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Hamilton Southeastern Schools (Indiana)Fishers/Noblesville, Indiana
 Full-day Seminar:Ditch That TextbookPrivate Event
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+ 11/14/2015
09:00-02:30 p.m.
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  Public Event
+ 11/17/2015
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Ditch That Textbook workshop @ ECESCConnersville, IN
 Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPublic Event
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+ 11/18/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook @ WCIESCGreencastle, Indiana
 Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPublic Event
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+ 11/19/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Elgin Local Schools (Ohio)Elgin, OH
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+ 01/13/2016
Madison eLearningMadison, IN
  Private Event
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08:00-03:00 p.m.
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 Venue:Hudson Indpendent School District
6735 Ted Trout Drive
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08:00-03:00 p.m.
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+ 02/03/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
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+ 02/09/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Southern Indiana Education CenterJasper, IN
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1102 Tree Lane Drive
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+ 02/15/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Educational Service Unit #13Scottsbluff, NE
 Workshop:The Digital PIRATEPublic Event
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+ 02/16/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Rockford Public SchoolsRockford, MI
 Keynote:Ditch That Textbook!Private Event
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+ 02/24/2016—02/25/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
ICE ConferenceSt. Charles, IL
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+ 02/25/2016—02/26/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
ICE Conference (Illinois)St. Charles, IL
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+ 03/07/2016
01:15-03:30 p.m.
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+ 03/09/2016—03/11/2016
MACUL ConferenceGrand Rapids, MI
 Sponsor:Michigan Association for Computer Users in LearningPublic Event
Venue:DeVos Place
303 Monroe Ave NW
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+ 03/14/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Concordia Lutheran HSFort Wayne, IN
 Sponsor:Concordia Lutheran High SchoolPrivate Event
+ 03/23/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Westwood Community School DistrictSloan, IA
 Sponsor:Westwood Community School DistrictPrivate Event
+ 04/13/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Wabash Valley Education CenterWest Lafayette, IN
 Workshop:Ditch That Textbook!Public Event
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3061 Benton Street
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(765) 463-1589
+ 04/18/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Monroe #1 BOCES (New York)Fairport, N.Y.
 Full-day Seminar:The Digital PIRATEPublic Event
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+ 04/26/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Caesar Rodney School DistrictCamden, DE
 Keynote:Ditch That TextbookPrivate Event
Venue:Caesar Rodney High School
239 Old North Road
Camden, DE 19934
+ 05/03/2016
Paoli Community School CorporationPaoli, IN
 Venue:To be determined
Paoli, IN
Private Event
+ 05/25/2016
09:00-09:45 a.m.
Pacific Northwest Apprenticeship Education ConferencePortland, OR
 Sponsor:The Bureau of Labor and Industries, Oregon Building Congress and Oregon Tradeswomen Inc.Public Event
Venue:DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel and Conference Center
1000 NE Multnomah Street
Portland, OR
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+ 05/31/2016
West Central Career CooperativeCrawfordsville, IN
 Venue:Crawfordsville Country Club
Crawfordsville, IN
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+ 06/06/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
PowerED Up ConferenceLeopold, IN
 Venue:Perry Central Schools
18677 Old State Road 37
Leopold, IN 47551
(812) 843-5576
Public Event
+ 06/07/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Making a Splash with Digital Learning ConferenceBatesville, IN
 Venue:Batesville Community School Corporation
626 N. Huntersville Road
Batesville, IN 47006
(812) 934-2194
Public Event
+ 06/08/2016—06/09/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ignite Your SuperpowerLafayette, IN
 Venue:Sunnyside Intermediate School
530 N 26th St
Lafayette, IN 47904
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+ 06/13/2016—06/14/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Summer Spark (Wisconsin)Milwaukee, WI
 Sponsor:University School of MilwaukeePublic Event
+ 06/15/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
REMAST Conference (South Dakota)Brookings, S.D.
 Sponsor:South Dakota State Noyce Scholarship ProgramPublic Event
+ 06/20/2016
Indianapolis Sister Cities Int'l ConferenceIndianapolis, IN
 Keynote:Connecting Your Classroom to the WorldPublic Event
Sponsor:Indianapolis Sister Cities InternationalRegister to attend
Venue:Covenant Christian High School
7525 W. 21st St.
Indianapolis, IN 46214
+ 06/22/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Western North Dakota ESADickinson, ND
 Workshop:The Digital PIRATEPublic Event
+ 06/26/2016—06/29/2016
ISTE ConferenceDenver, CO
 Venue:Colorado Convention Center
700 14th St.
Denver, CO 80202
Public Event
+ 07/12/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
MSD of MartinsvilleMartinsville, IN
 Sponsor:MSD of MartinsvillePrivate Event
+ 07/13/2016—07/14/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Pulaski County Special School DistrictLittle Rock, AR
 Sponsor:Pulaski County Special School DistrictPrivate Event
+ 07/18/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Sheridan/Hamilton HeightsSheridan, IN
  Public Event
+ 07/19/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Launching INquiryFishers, IN
 Venue:Fishers High School College & Career Academy
13000 Promise Rd
Fishers, IN 46038
Public Event
+ 07/20/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Blended Learning SummitSalina, KS
 Sponsor:Smoky Hill Education Service CenterPublic Event
Venue:Smoky Hill Education Service Center
605 E. Crawford
Salina, KS 67401
+ 07/21/2016
08:30-04:00 p.m.
iPadpaloozaEastTXLongview, TX
 Keynote:Ditch That Textbook!Public Event
Sponsor:Region 7 Education Service CenterRegister to attend
Venue:Pine Tree High School
900 Northwest Drive
Longview, TX 75604
(903) 295-5031
Get more information
+ 07/22/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Tyler ISDTyler, TX
 Sponsor:Tyler ISD 
+ 07/25/2016—07/26/2016
E3 Technology ConferenceWarsaw, IN
 Venue:Warsaw High School
1 Tiger Lane
Warsaw, IN 46580
(574) 371-5098
Public Event
+ 08/01/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Catholic High SchoolNew Iberia, LA
 Sponsor:Catholic High SchoolPrivate Event
Venue:Catholic High School
1301 de La Salle Drive
New Iberia, LA 70560
+ 08/05/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Fort Wayne Lutheran Schools PartnershipFort Wayne, IN
 Sponsor:Fort Wayne Lutheran Schools PartnershipPrivate Event
+ 08/09/2016
Southwest School CorporationSullivan, IN
 Venue:Southwest School Corporation
110 North Main Street
Sullivan, IN 47882
(812) 268-6311
Private Event
+ 08/11/2016
Groesbeck ISD Tech ConferenceGroesbeck, TX
 Keynote:Ditch That Textbook!Private Event
Venue:Groesbeck Independent School District
1202 N. Ellis
Groesbeck, TX 76642
(254) 729-4100
+ 08/15/2016
Beggs Public SchoolsBeggs, OK
 Venue:Beggs Public Schools
1201 West 9th
Beggs, OK 74421
(918) 267-3628
Private Event
+ 08/16/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Etoile ISDEtoile, TX
 Sponsor:Etoile ISDPrivate Event
+ 08/17/2016
8:00-3:00 pm
Tech Academy 
  Private Event
+ 08/22/2016—08/23/2016
West Central School DistrictHartford, SD
 Venue:West Central School District
705 E. 2nd St.
Hartford, SD 57033
(605) 528-3217
Private Event
+ 08/24/2016
Walled Lake Consolidated School District 
  Public Event
+ 08/25/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Hillsboro School DistrictHillsboro, OR
 Sponsor:Hillsboro School DistrictPrivate Event
+ 08/29/2016
Service Learning School DistrictDetroit, MI
 Sponsor:Service Learning School District 
+ 09/16/2016
New Prairie High SchoolNew Carlisle, IN
 Venue:New Praire High School
New Carlisle, IN
Private Event
+ 09/19/2016
Big Walnut Local SchoolsSunbury, OH
 Workshop:The Digital PIRATE: Tech Like a PIRATEPrivate Event
Venue:Big Walnut Local Schools
36 Harrison St
Sunbury, OH 43074
(740) 965-3205
+ 09/20/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
NH Best Practices in Curriculum, Assessment and Assessment ConferenceConcord, NH
 Sponsor:New Hampshire School Administrators AssociationPublic Event
Venue:Grappone Conference Center
Concord, NH
+ 10/12/2016—10/13/2016
Mississippi Bend Area Education AgencyBetterdorf, IA
 Sponsor:Mississippi Area Bend Education AgencyPrivate Event
  • Hi, Matt!
    When I read the Google statement #6, I immediately thought of testing and the companies that are profiting off of the testing we are required to administer to students.

  • Hi Matt, great post and food for resolutions. Your comment about statement 2. “As educators, we often don’t have the luxury of being good at just one thing” is true to a point, but surely being an a good educator/teacher comes under the umbrella of being good at just one thing!

  • Thanks for bringing back this post!!! I personally like this one: 5. “You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer” To me that’s the biggest reason (but for sure not the only reason) for smart phones – you can get needed input ANTWHERE! And I personally learned this from our grandchildren. When they wanted some information during play or when “hanging out,” out came their iPods or whatever and they did a Google search – without hesitation. And so, now that’s Papa’s approach; whether it’s the name of an old movie or what hours the town transfer station is open or what’s the explanation of lift from an airplane wing, I look it up!!!

    And, by the way, it has another important lesson, Googling a topic. Quite often, the information is not useful for any number of reasons – one being flat out wrong. Regardless of the user’s age, it’s an important lesson. As an aside, the same thing often happens with textbooks as well; sadly though, this is rarely questioned BECAUSE IT’S A TEXTBOOK!!! The previously mentioned “lift from an airplane wing” is a great example…

  • Tony Doyle says:

    “Great just isn’t good enough.” As a librarian I have to constantly prove my worth. There is no rating on my laurels. If I can’t answer the question what have you done for us lately my job will be cut. I have to embrace the concept of continuous improvement to remain relevant.

  • Katherine Albright says:

    I really like number 10! We may be considered “great” but, we can ALWAYS do better!!

  • […] 10 Ways Google’s Philosophy Can Guide Teachers […]