Domestic, Elementary / Primary / Junior, High school / Secondary 2, Open Source Education, Required, STEM / Science, Technology, Education, Math, Technology - Written by on Thursday, August 18, 2011 13:25 - 1 Comment

Three New Google Education Projects: Learn Anywhere, Teach Teachers, Viral Classroom

image: Mashable

by Elbert Chu


This fall, over 49.4 million  students will report to elementary and secondary public schools across the nation. Charged with the task of educating these young minds are over 3.3 million public school teachers (Stats from The National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2010). Inertia does not even begin to describe the monster in U.S.  classrooms.

Google to the Rescue?

One of Google’s philosophies is “do no evil.” Google’s latest education projects demonstrate some innovative ways to go one step further and “do good.” Here’s the bottom line on three of Google’s latest weapons to help tame the education crisis:

1. Google App Inventor Enrolls at MIT Center for Mobile Learning

App Inventor is the WYSIWG application which enables people to create Android apps without the burden of coding. The critical step for making this education friendly was turning App Inventor loose to open source, which Google announced earlier this summer.

Now, App Inventor is being sent to MIT for a degree in mobile education. The Center for Mobile Learning will work to produce education solutions which enables students to learn anywhere. In a way, the App Inventor is going home to its maker, Hal Abelson, MIT Professor of Computer Science and Engineering. Abelson hatched the idea while he was on sabbatical at Google. Helping Ableson steer the Center for Mobile learning will be MIT Professors Eric Klopfer and Mitchel Resnick.

“The new center, housed at MIT’s Media Lab, will focus on designing and studying new mobile technologies that enable people to learn anywhere, anytime, with anyone,” wrote Abelson in the announcement on Google’s blog.

One caveat is whether educators want or should design apps. Second, questions linger about how sophisticated App Inventor’s apps can really get, given its pared-down nature. More likely, the platform will be used to teach programming.

A recent panel of computer science educators at an industry conference sang the praise of App Inventor, according to Audrey Watters over at ReadWriteWeb. An example is Professor David Wolber, of the University of San Fransisco. Watters writes:

The professors at OSCON today all spoke of the success stories they’ve had with App Inventor. Wolber, for example, said that he used App Inventor in his CS 0 class, a course at University of San Francisco that fulfills the math graduation requirement but that is often taken by students who loathe math. He boasted a high number of students – all non-programmers and non-CS majors, who went on to take subsequent computer science courses.


via Slashgear, Google blog, ReadWriteWeb, Mashable has a list of 8 education apps


2. Google Faculty Institute: Teaching Teachers that Teach Teachers

Instead of the monstrous task of trying to reform classrooms, Google is going to the source: Teachers who teach future teachers. In this case, Google chose California State University’s (CSU) school of education to incubate six new ideas with $20,000 each. MindShift’s Tina Barseghian has a great recap:

Why the focus on CSU teachers? Simple math — 60% of teachers in California and 10% of teachers in the U.S. — are trained through the CSU system. “We want to make California a model for the rest of the country,” said Maggie Johnson, director of education and university relations for Google. “We wanted to find a mechanism for talking about education technology and all the ways of using it in transformational ways — not just ways to support teaching as it’s always been done.”

The six ideas range from encouraging app programming (see #1 above), encouraging new teaching models using Khan Academy, and find analytical tools to evaluate STEM teaching. via MindShift

3. Stanford Virtual Artificial Intelligence Course

This isn’t directly a Google initiative, but has its fingerprints all over it. Not only is the course run by two Googlers, they’re using Google Moderator to facilitate class discussion for 58,000 students. Our coverage earlier this week.


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1 Comment

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Paul Glader
Aug 18, 2011 19:09

Good summary of Google’s activities in education.
They also seem very active in signing up colleges (and perhaps even high schools) to use their Gmail systems and other Google products within school IT and student communication structures.
Please tip us off if you know of other areas Google is going in education.

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