Google Teacher Academy UK 2012: My Reflections and the Future

Earlier this week the Google Teacher Academy ran for a second UK outing at the new London offices on St Giles High Street. It was a privilege once again to have the opportunity to help plan, organise and be part of the 2 days.

50 educators from around the world came together for some rapid professional learning and discussion and the chance to work alongside Google employees to help make change happen in their communities. These are a handful of my reflections about the 2 days and what the future may hold for the event.

Google Engineers

One of the most unique features of the teacher academy is the access to and contribution by Google product managers and employees to the learning. During our 2 day event we had the chance to spend some time in the company of YouTube, Google Docs and Google+ product managers who joined us for hangouts. The Google Docs team were there in force and shared with us some incredible new features to this ever changing tool. Jeff Harris the product lead for Google Docs document, presentation, and drawing editors did some great demos and talked about the future developments of the tool. It is always exciting to have access to this type of group and have them share their expertise with us.

Google+ Potential

One thing that the GTA did for me was to put the potential of G+ back on the table, not because of any great demo or future road-map session, it was more to do with a group using it loads. There was lots of sharing to just the GTAUK group and so the circles came into their own, I think I will probably spend a bit more time figuring out how best to use it alongside Twitter.


I do enjoy a dose of “whooping” (I suspect you are pleased I didn’t add “cough” to that phrase) to raise the enthusiasm in the room. Don’t get me wrong I am not so keen on the use of the ‘whoop” in cinemas where it doesn’t have much place, but at the GTA the enthusiasm for the learning opportunities we can offer our classes was great. And when you unpick it, that is all it is, an enthusiastic public gesture of our delight for a potential future learning opportunity for our students. Jo Badge describes it as the GTA “philosophy” and in many ways it is important as it kept the energy up – you wonder what the event would be like without the wearing of our emotions on our sleeves. Huzzah!

Reflections from GTAUK participants

Reflections on google teacher academy UK 2012 #gtauk « DrBadgr by Jo Badge.

Learnbuzz reflections on the GTA from Steph Ladbrooke.

Google Teacher Academy: Reflection | from Simon Lewis.

Carry on Learning: GTAUK posts from Sheli Blackburn

The Future of the GTA in the UK

It has been about 5 or 6 years since I began to email Cristin Frodella from Google about bringing the GTA to the UK and it has been great to now see the second event conclude. However this leaves me somewhat pensive about the event over here, the model of organisation and how much more could be done. The bottom line is that I want more of this type of opportunity for UK teachers, not just a few places over the course of 2 years but more like 3 big, full blown academy events every year.

It doesn’t seem that much to ask for UK teachers, who are, in my opinion, one of the most innovative and inspiring communities of teachers in the world. This is what I am pushing for and will do what I can to help make it happen.


  1. Good and impressive.
    Focusing on what sets you apart from other providers is crucial. So many things
    like to go straight to the bottom line and use it as a basis of comparison.


  2. Thank you for sharing your reflections. I think it is so great that a corporation as big as Google is working toward the betterment of students and their education. I’m not familiar with GTA though. Do they have assemblies around the world, every year? How do they choose the educators that are able to come? It’s kind of unfortunate they only have 50 there – if they could open it up to more educators around the world! That’d be great! Thanks again for sharing.

  3. Great post Tom – thanks!  GTAUK was fantastic in many ways & it was very special to me to have the opportunity to be there & to learn from truly awesome educators.  What a great idea to have three big events every year here.  I too would love for others to have the opportunity to experience the Google Teacher Academy and really hope that GTA will be developed in this way. 

  4. Thanks for a great post and I whole heartedly agree with you about trying to get more opportunities like this avaliable for teachers and advisors in the UK. I am still green with envy that my colleague got a place, although am very lucky that he is sharing all the inspiration and ideas as much as he can. I am sure you will succeed in your challenge of getting more events like this hosted in the UK and I for one will be in the queue for a place!

  5. Thank you for sharing this post and for expressing what I am sure so many others feel.  I applied for a place in this year’s academy, however I did not make the shortlist.  After reading so many tweets and blog posts about the amazing learning and inspiration from so many educators, I just know that I will try again whenever the opportunity presents itself.  It would be fantastic if there were more events like this,for educators to continue both their own learning, as well as that of the communities within which they work.
    So thank you very much for your efforts in trying to make this happen.

  6. More chances to attend GTAUK would be fabulous – thank you for your continued hard work to bring it to the UK and keep it coming back. I love the idea of GTAUK and understand that they can’t accommodate everyone but do feel that there are a lot of really fab teachers and educators who could benefit from a greater chance to attend this kind of event.


  7. I completely agree with you James. Holding the event more regularly would give those passionate, innovative teachers an opportunity to share their students’ memorable learning moments and network with other like minded professionals who actively use technology to enhance the learning experience 

  8. As a #GTAUK delegate, I can only affirm Tom’ comments about the event, being a great opportunity to work with and learn from Google’s engineers.
    From a school leader’s perspective, what surprised me most was to learn that so many EdTech greats make amazing impacts in their classrooms and schools despite their bosses, not because of them.
    So that is why I would support this call for a substantial UK expansion of Google academy work. I’d retain the application process and requirement to work for the greater good, but I’d love the excitement, the ‘Learning Slam’, to spread as rapidly as possible.

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