Google Innovation Tour in Cape Town – an AWESOME event. Don’t miss one coming to your area…

Submitted by Fiona Beal
On Friday 24th October the all-day Google Innovation Tour took place in Cape Town. This was a very exciting opportunity for schools to learn more about Google. The venue was teeming with over 200 excited teachers and educators who had come to learn about how Google can change their classrooms. Chromebooks were available for teachers to try out.



These are some of the highlights that I experienced at the Innovation Tour.

1. Karen Walstra’s opening presentation

After all the welcomes and introductions we started off with a fun game of picking up sticks (found in our goodie bags) which was the introduction to Karen Walstra’s excellent presentation on embracing change in education. The game was used to introduce us to all the different skills we can incorporate into a lesson when we play.

Karen shared so many interesting facts and figures with us during her presentation and, there’s no doubt about it – we’re living in a fast changing world.

  • In Africa there are 20 million more mobile users than people! 
  • We need to be encouraging our learners to engage in more physical activity in our school day.


  • Technology is also changing childhood. Many of our learners already have a digital footprint (family photos on Facebook as a start). 
  • We were encouraged to Google ourselves regularly to see what our own digital foot prints are like.
  • Research shows that only 11% of children aged 2-5 can tie their shoelaces while 19% can easily use apps on a smart device. 
  • For our current learners to survive in job that does not exist yet, they need to be able to communicate, collaborate and solve problems
  • 21st Century learning and teaching is different to the traditional methods of yesteryear.
  • Google’s philosophy is that we should aim to make everything 10 times  better than it was before!
  • We were urged to rethink our teaching spaces.
  • Teach critical thinking skills – how much ‘creation’ are we encouraging in our classrooms?

This was an excellent session full of great challenges and useful ideas. One of the things I loved about this session was the sharing of teachers on creative lessons they have taught.   Karen recommended watching Sir Ken Robinson’s YouTube talk on ‘Do schools kill creativity’.

2. Google’s involvement in Africa

In the next session it was interesting to hear how the world is changing digitally and about Google’s involvement in Africa in various ways. Every industry will eventually be digitally remastered. We heard about GDGs Google developer groups and women in technology Developers are critical for developing new, innovative content.  There are three Google developer experts in South Africa. We need to get our learners coding! There are some great coding opportunities coming up later in 2014/2015. Google Code-in and Google Summer of Code. We also heard how some of our 23 Universities in South Africa are using Google Apps creatively. 


3. The panel session

The panel session had a selection of speakers talking for seven minutes on a topic. There were plenty of tips on how to go about putting a school in the cloud with Google.

There were two presentations that stood out for me.  Richard Knaggs showed us how Parklands College uses Google Apps – a brilliant presentation – and  Alister Payne from WPPS showed how Google Apps turned their school around.  



Richard Knaggs also promoted the upcoming two Google Summits for teachers presented by the Ed Tech Team in the USA scheduled to take place in South Africa in 2015, one of which will take place at Parklands College in October.


The panel session was excellent and well-received.



4. Google GEG (Google Educator Groups) initiative
Kevin Sherman spoke of Google’s GEG initiative and how it is taking shape in South Africa.  Arthur Preston announced the GEG interest event that will be hosted at WPPS on 12th November fom 3-5 pm.  There is also a GEG workshop taking place at Golden Grove School on Saturday 15th April. Here are the important links:





 5. The technical session
The optional technical session after lunch gave me insight on how to go about moving a school over to Google Apps. I must confess my head started spinning after a while with all the technical information and I moved across to the teacher’s PD session.

6.  PD session for teachers
The afternoon PD session for teachers was very informative.  We learned about Google classroom, Connected Classrooms (, and You Tube in the classroom via YouTube Edu –, submitting lessons to TED ED (see Anthony Peters lesson as well as a myriad of other useful ideas for teachers to use in the classroom.

7. Chromebooks
Peter Lacy from Acer gave a very humorous talk on Chromebooks. They are light, cheap, sturdy, with long-life 7 hours + batteries, no virus problems and they start in 7 seconds.  “If you want Chromebooks to start off your 2015 year now is the time to order them,”Peter said.

8. Food and networking…
Of course, food was plentiful throughout the day and networking with others was amazing.


9. Archive of tweets
If you would like to read the archive of tweets from the Google Innovation Tour One Day event in Cape Town on 24th October  it is available at

This was an inspiring day all round. When a Google Innovation Tour comes to your area, don’t hesitate applying to attend. It’s free, informative and very inspiring.


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