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Horizon School Division and Greater Catholic Schools hosted Saskatchewan’s first ever EdTechTeam Google for Education summit at Holy Cross High School in Saskatoon on Feb. 24 and 25. Photo by Harrison Brooks.

It’s only been a short time since the EdTechTeam’s Google for Education summit in Saskatoon, and deputy director of Horizon School Division, Randy MacLEAN, is already thinking of trying to bring an EdTechTeam summit back to Saskatchewan next year. “We’re looking at what it could look like next year. Can we bring another Google summit back to Saskatchewan? We’re in the midst of those discussions now,” said MacLEAN. 

EdTechTeam, based in Irvine California, was founded by Mark Wagner in June of 2006. According to their website, they are “a global network of educational technologists dedicated to inspiring and empowering educators.”

Last May MacLEAN, and five other teachers from the division, attended their first summit in London, Ontario. Before their plane landed back home they had already begun working to bring an EdTechTeam Summit to Saskatchewan. “We were debriefing in the airport in London and the teachers said we need to do this. We need to provide this learning opportunity for our teachers,” said MacLEAN.

Wagner started EdTechTeam by himself. Currently they have 36 full time employees who work closely with over 250 contractors to put on events such as Google for Education Summits worldwide. According to Charity Helman, EdTechTeam’s event coordinator for Canada, these summits are meant to inspire better learning for teachers and their students. “We hold events to educate teachers about how to use educational technology for purposeful meaning to engage students in a new way,” said Helman.

Last month the Horizon School Division partnered with Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools to host the first ever EdTechTeam summit in Saskatchewan, at Holy Cross High School, in Saskatoon. According to MacLEAN, being able to host one of these events locally is very important for education in the province. “Well, it’s huge, and research is going to show you that the best form of professional development that has the greatest impact is teachers working with teachers,” said MacLEAN. “Also, it allows teachers to question their own practices, to question other possibilities, so it's huge.”

The summit was held over two days and consisted of about 32 different sessions and three keynote speeches all dealing with incorporating new technology into classrooms. The weekend was capped off by a keynote speech by EdTechTeam contractor Kim Pollishuke, a literacy resource teacher for York District School Board in Ontario. “My speech was called ‘Let’s Build an Elevator to the Moon’ and was on the idea that we need to not let other people restrict our potential,” said Pollishuke.

The sessions all dealt with showing teachers how to incorporate technology such as Google Forms and Google Classroom into their lessons to make teaching easier and more efficient. “Google Forms is always a hit with teachers. [It] will allow teachers to create everything from an exit ticket in class to a quiz with automatic grading to forms for parents to fill out,” said Helman.

Google Classroom is an environment, a platform, where teachers can set up their individual courses and provide notes, activities, materials and resources to students,” said MacLEAN. “The Google Classroom is a 24 hours a day, seven days a week opportunity for students to access their work, and collaborate on projects and school work.”

As useful as all the sessions were it was the energy of the event that stood out to MacLEAN more than anything. “The one thing is energy. Energy and opportunity,” said MacLEAN. “Teachers become excited about the opportunities they can provide their students. It’s about the journey teachers are on to create really relevant, exciting learning opportunities for students.”

EdTechTeam events are paid for through the individual registration costs that teachers pay to attend the events, with no cost to the division.