NORTH SALEM, N.Y. – As part of her application to the highly selective Google Teacher Academy, North Salem High School’s media director, Cynthia Sandler, submitted a video about the importance of technology to her students.
It was not until she attended the program last week at Google’s local home, an unmarked warehouse in New York’s Chelsea district, that Sandler realized the depth and the breadth of the technology that is available to today’s educators.
“We learned about Google apps for educators, about Google Search, Documents, Earth, YouTube and other sites, but we went far beyond the basics,” she said.
“Now I’m connected to educators around the world and it’s an amazing opportunity. One person asks a question and people respond from different parts of the world. It’s an incredible resource, an ongoing community, for people who want to change education. There’s a great synergy.”
Not only can she now work on globally collaborative projects, she says, but her students can, too.
“Kids on opposite sides of the world can work on the same document at the same time, even if they don’t speak the same language,” she said. “There are no time barriers. And with Google Earth there are no distance barriers.”
Sandler digressed for a few minutes to describe the Google office atmosphere. “There’s opportunity for creativity everywhere you look. The place is huge. People travel around on scooters and there are parking spaces for them. There’s color everywhere, Google doodles on the walls. One wall had a giant robot painted on it, and people drew things on the robot.
“They had a treadmill set up as a workstation, so you can walk while you work. A lot of giant balls to sit on. There’s a laundry, a gym and showers. You get breakfast, lunch and dinner – gourmet food, no charge. And there are snack areas with different themes. I saw one that was a jungle, with wooden stumps, a waterfall and trees grouped around it. There are even napping pods for when you get tired.”
Thinking of the Google ambience, the people she met and the things she learned, Sandler summed it up by saying, “You simply can’t help but be inspired.”