10 key takeaways from Google’s Education on Air conference

Ed Tech

Ed Tech | Monday, May 11, 2015

10 key takeaways from Google’s Education on Air conference

The Education on Air online conference provides educators with hours and hours of high-quality video with ideas for incorporating Google into the classroom. (Screenshot from Education on Air site)

The Education on Air online conference provides educators with hours and hours of high-quality video with ideas for incorporating Google into the classroom. (Screenshot from Education on Air site)

When Google decides to put on a free online conference, it’s a huge event.

The 2015 Education on Air conference featured tens of thousands of registered educators from 185 countries. They had more than 100 sessions to choose from in the two-day event.

I was fortunate to present “Ditch your textbooks with Google Apps” to 250+ viewers from as far as Portugal, Netherlands, Scotland, Iceland, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Australia (where it was 6:30 a.m. when I presented!).

With all of these sessions available on YouTube for viewing (click here for a search screen with virtually all of them), I’ve begun watching and making mental lists of sessions to watch.

Here are 10 take-away lessons I’ve learned from the ones I’ve watched (with the videos embedded at the end of each section):

Keynote presentation

1. Problem solving, teamwork and communication are skills that students will need to thrive in tomorrow’s workforce, according to research done by the Economist Intelligence Unit for Google for Education. A best practice for incorporating those skills is to embed them in the existing curriculum instead of teaching them in isolation. Example: use math and science to solve a real-world problem instead of teaching a lesson on problem solving.

2. Some key statistics/facts from the Economist Intelligence Unit research:

  • 85 percent of teachers say that IT advances are changing how they teach
  • About 25 percent of students say that their schools are good at using tech (which means 75 percent would NOT say that about their schools)
  • Employers say they want college students to have improved access to company schemes or internships

Minh Ngo (@freelancepants) created these gorgeous sketchnotes of the keynote session that she shared on Twitter (click on images to see full-size):

keys to learning 5 risk taking 4 skills of future 1 what if 2 who am i 3

Making YouTube work for you and your students

Kyle Pace, Instructional Technology Specialist, Lee’s Summit School District


3. Playlists are a great, easy way to gather videos for students to watch and organize them in one place. Kyle explains very clearly how to create playlists and how they can be used for educators.

link to specific time youtube4. What I just did with the link above came from Kyle’s suggestions in his session. You can create a link to a specific part of a YouTube video. When you click the “Share” tab, check the box under the link it provides to link to that specific time in the video. (See image at right.) YouTube defaults to the time in the video when you clicked the tab, but you can change it to any time you’d like.

To demonstrate, below is a handy list of links to different parts of my “Ditch your textbooks with Google Apps” session at Education on Air:

Making thinking visible using Google Apps for Education

Cindy Crannell, Digital Learning Coordinator, Halcyon London International School


5. Many students struggle with writing but have great ideas. Cindy noticed that students liked to take pictures, so they started to gather photos as evidence of learning. As students took pictures illustrating art concepts and terms and collected them in Google Drive, a portfolio of examples started to come alive within their Drives. They were showing their learning with pictures instead of words.

6. Students took their images and explained them using Screencastify, a screen capture software for Google Chrome. Students would take a video of their device’s screen, show the photos they had taken and describe what they had learned. Again, struggling writers were able to demonstrate their learning in a more natural way.

How to support and maintain a classroom without textbooks and workbooks

James Downing, Head of English, Northumberland Training Academy


7. James (a fellow textbook ditcher!) shared some keys to his textbook-less classroom:

  • Students create documents in Drive
  • He scans student work done on paper into Google Drive so students have it and his comments
  • He uploads slides/presentations/videos into their English folders in Drive, creating something of a virtual textbook
  • He provides instant feedback via comments

Flip your classroom with Google

Jon Neale, Education Technology, The Mountbatten School


8. To provide students with instruction outside of class, Jon uploads video to YouTube. He uses annotations to make the videos interactive. For example, annotations allow users to make clickable links within videos and add text to them.

9. Jon provides students questions to answer in Google Forms. But he also adds videos directly onto the forms so students don’t have to jump back and forth. Students can watch the video and answer questions on the same screen.

10. When a student completes questions on a Google Form, he/she can click on a link the teacher added on the confirmation page to take students to the next activity. For example, when a student clicks “Submit” after completing questions, the message on the following page can be customized to direct the student on to the next activity.


This list is just scratches the surface! Be sure to check out the Education on Air page for hours and hours of video on how to use Google effectively in the classroom.

[reminder]What was the key takeaway you had from this list of key takeaways? If you have watched video from Education on Air, what did you learn from it?[/reminder]

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  • Kim says:

    Your notes (#1 & #2) were identical to mine! I wasn’t able to watch live, but I’m now catching up on all the recorded sessions.

  • Richard Detwiler says:

    Thanks for the post-conference info. re: the Google for Education conference. What’s your best advice for finding out about events like this before they happen? Google certainly doesn’t send out invitations to its end-users…

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