Repurposing our Colombian Google Summit to strengthen instructional practices and engage students during hybrid learning  By Dr. John Parker

During the 2019-2020 school year, Colegio Nueva Granada planned to, once again, offer the Google Summit as a professional learning opportunity to teachers.  Our scheduled onsite training would consist of two days over a weekend in May, and considerable time was invested in the plan to bring presenters to campus and prepare to host teachers from throughout Colombia. Then on March 12, 2020, Covid 19 hit, and we postponed the event.

With the cancellation of the Bogota Google Summit that May, our leadership team considered various options to reinvent the Summit and shift the professional learning delivery system to address the multiple needs we had at CNG to support staff with online learning.  Seizing upon the opportunity, our team surveyed all staff and identified the instructional areas they wished to strengthen, recognized that deficits existed to engage learners with online learning, discovered the growing interest staff had in assessing for learning using alternative methods and learn more about the technology applications available at their fingertips.  

Our team also met with Monica Martinez from MPowerPL to help organize the new Colombian Google Summit event intended to reach over 350+ participants.  In retrospect, it was similar to planning a professional learning conference, except the event being fully online. We shared our strategic thinking for the online conference with Monica. She quickly went to work securing keynote speakers and partnering with CNG to create a menu of over 30 online sessions that staff could select based on their interest or what feedback they provided survey.

We developed conference strands, session descriptions, and skill levels to identify what sessions they wished to attend.  At CNG, many teachers speak Spanish as a first language, so we asked for sessions in Spanish. 

Strands

  1. Designer: Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.
  2. Learner: Educators continually improve their practice by learning from and with others and exploring proven and promising practices that leverage technology to improve student learning.
  3. Citizen: Educators inspire students to positively contribute to and responsibly participate in the digital world.

Session Examples

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As a leadership team, we decided to repurpose one of our calendared professional learning days during the following 2020-2021 school year and hold the Google Summit on this date. Our expectation was for all staff to attend. We also invited teachers from other schools throughout Colombia to join us for a nominal fee. On September 4th, 2020, we held the repurposed Google Summit for teachers. Throughout the Summit, we took on the monumental task of differentiating our professional learning based on the teacher needs identified in the survey. The event ran from 8:00 am until 3:00, and the 400 participants attended the keynote and selected five sessions from the 30 in the Summit menu. 

Results and Carrying the Learning Forward
Overall, the Google Summit was a big success, and we collected feedback from just under 200 of the participants. Many teachers cited the Summit as the ‘best and most timely professional learning they had attended.’ Administrators and teachers alike felt the sessions dove right into content and strategies during the 50-minute sessions, and concepts presented were immediately applicable in their classroom or work setting. Before the Summit, we had asked our teachers about their interest in Google training certification. Close to 70 teaching staff expressed interest in the Google Certification process, and 45 who took the tests expressed that the Google Summit helped them with the content and confidence they needed to become Google certified as Level 1, Level 2, Trainer, or Innovator. 

For the 2021-2022 school year, our team believed that holding another Google Summit was critical. However, we plan to make the Colombia Google Summit optional and schedule it for Saturday, September 25, since we have other priorities to address during our schoolwide professional development days. Nonetheless, with the excitement from last year’s summit, we anticipate considerable interest for this year despite being on a Saturday.