Ten takeaways from the South African Google in Ed Summit held in Cape Town recently

Submitted by Fiona Beal

Anthony Egbers, a very innovative technology co-ordinator from Dainfern College recently wrote a great post on his blog, entitled ‘10 things I will be taking from the za.gafesummit.com’ and he encouraged other South African teachers that attended the Summit to do likewise. Great idea, Anthony, I have taken the challenge!

The EdtechTeam’s Google Summits are enormously popular and are held all over the world sometimes twice in a week! This initiative of the EdTechTeam has had far-reaching effects on inspiring educational change – the collaborative and free Google way! It was such a privilege for SchoolNet to invite this team to Africa for the first time ever, and along with a fantastic Parklands College team, host the event at Parklands in Cape Town. Here are ten of my takeways.

1. Google Hangouts for conferencing


As a member of the organising team I was impressed with the way we used free Google hangouts for our preparation meetings…so simple and easy. We could see each other and converse as though we were in the same room. Google Hangouts can be used effectively in education in a multitude of ways.

2. Sched.org for creating a conference website


This was the first paperless conference I have ever attended! The team uses Sched.org for all their Summit websites and this really fascinated me. It is a marvelous way to plan for a Conference and is easy to navigate as it sets everything out clearly. They also used Eventbrite to invite folk to the sessions and registration was a breeze – all done on a cell phone or tablet. 

3. Exceptional keynotes

All three keynotes were exceptionally good – motivational and very thought- provoking…and oh so inspiring! 


Molly Shroeder blew us away with her ‘Design Thinking‘ about moonshot thinking and living in Beta
IMG_1251 Rushton Hurley from www.nextvista.org spoke on ‘The Good, the Great and Rapid Change
20130927_164250 Technology is Trust’ – the closing keynote presented by Kern Kelly

4. Chrome Ninja with Molly Shroeder

This was a great presentation from Molly on all the features of Google Chrome as a browser. Here is the link http://goo.gl/frdCb. (Straight after Molly I presented on ‘Make browsing a dream with the amazing Google Chrome’ for beginners at another venue. It felt very basic after all I learned in Molly’s talk!) 


5. Productivity with Mark Wagner


I attended two of Mark Wagner’s presentations. The first was ‘Personal Learning Networks for Educators now with Google +’ and the second was  ‘Make More of Your Time: Productivity Tools for Educators and Students’ where I learned a lot of very useful email tips.

6. A great website – NextVista.org

image 20130927_084136

Rushton Hurley from www.nextvista.org is one of the most motivating speakers I have ever heard. (I am going to be an avid follower of next vista.org from now on.) I loved his keynote and attended two of his sessions after that namely ‘Fostering creativity and excellence’ and  ‘Inspiring your colleagues with free resources’.  He has a captivating style of presentation. (At the end of the Summit he chose his favourite tweet which was “Rushton I’d like to hug your brain.” Here he can be seen about to hug the sender of the tweet…) 

Rushton hugging a tweeting fan (photo via Steve Sherman)

7. Sharing with and learning from others

I also presented on Starting the paperless journey with Google. I mention this as a takeaway as I had an awesome group of attendees who shared their own stories of their experiences of implementing Google in the classroom. We all learned so much from each other. 

8. The Demoslam

The demo slam was such fun and was very well-received. The presentations  needed to be high energy, geeky plus useful which was a challenge! The winner was a great, fun presentation from Kevin Sherman using Google Docs Story Builder. It was the first silent demo slam the team has witnessed! (Kevin seen below receiving his award). I participated with a presentation on Take note of VideoNotes, (a favourite tool of mine) feeling very nervous! 

The winner – Kevin Sherman

9. Chris Betcha

I sadly didn’t get to any of Chris Betcha’s presentations but I came across his Google site where he stores everything. Thank you Chris for these awesome resources on your Google site! Yes, Google sites is going to become a firm favourite of mine as well. (I LOVED the way the team, in general, stored their presentations and info about themselves on a Google site.) 


10. Networking

Last but not least I LOVED the networking at the Conference. It was amazing to reconnect with my PLN from all over South Africa, and to make new friends as well.

The organising team – EdTechTeam, Parklands and SchoolNet (photo via Steve Sherman)

Another SA teacher who has written about the Google summit is Linda Foulkes from Elkana House ‘I’ve gone Google and presented at the Google Summit

This Google in Education Summit was an excellent event well worth attending. I learned SO much from the international team of presenters, and I am hoping this event will become an annual one. I think this summit really showed teachers how Google can be used very effectively in the 21st century classroom. Can’t wait for the next summit…

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