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Editor's note: Educators and administrators across the state tell us that Michigan schools are seeing great success with Google for Education. From bringing a global experience into the classroom to freeing students to learn from each other and their teachers, from anywhere, technology has improved the learning experience for students across the state. To learn more about Google solutions for Education, join us for a webinar on January 28th at 3pm ET / 12pm PT.

If students in Michigan want to learn about life on a farm in New York or a city in Australia, they don’t need to buy a plane ticket or even leave the classroom. Educators in Michigan are bringing global experiences to the classroom using cloud technology, such as Google Apps for Education and Chromebooks. Inspired by how Michigan schools are transforming classroom experiences with technology, we’re highlighting a few success stories in the region.

Turning moments of curiosity into learning opportunities 


At Grand Haven Area Public Schools, Google Apps for Education put student learning, collaboration and feedback at the center of the classroom. Grand Haven has launched 4,500 Chromebooks for students and staff and has deployed 8,400 Google Apps accounts. Before introducing the new tools, when students had a question, they had to wait until a teacher had time to work with them. In classrooms of 20 students or more, many of these teachable moments would simply get lost in the shuffle.

Technology allows those moments of curiosity to turn into learning opportunities for students. With Chromebooks and Google Apps for Education, teachers are able to provide feedback on assignments to each student individually in a single class period. For example, at Grand Haven, students use Google Docs to share their progress on math assignments with their teachers. Math teachers then check-in virtually with each of the students as they’re working on the assignment to provide them with real-time feedback by adding comments in the Doc. The teachers also use Doc’s revision history feature to see the logic students are using to solve the problem, giving them better insight into how students are progressing.

One high school teacher said she was able to give real-time feedback on an assignment to every single student — during a one hour class period — for the first time in fifteen years of teaching. “It’s much more than just handing a student a device,” says Doug Start, instructional technology coordinator at Grand Haven Area Public Schools: “Google Apps for Education lets our teachers move from being the ‘sage on the stage’ to the ’guide on the side,’ as they now have time to work more directly with students.”


Traveling the world from inside the classroom 


Lincoln Park Public School District (case study) considers technology a key part of its mission to prepare and inspire students to achieve educational excellence. Many of the district’s students don’t have access to technology at home, and others struggle with state standardized test questions that are based on the assumption that students have traveled.

To overcome this challenge, the district launched Google Apps for Education for 4,900 students and introduced 4,400 Chromebooks. Students now have unlimited access to global information online. “We now have the ability to bring virtual knowledge into the classroom. The virtual experience opens up the world for our students and allows them to learn more,” says Cheryl Irving, assistant superintendent for Lincoln Park Public School District.

Collaborating with virtual learning 


To provide students with anytime, anywhere learning, Fenton Area Public Schools launched 1,300 Chromebooks and 4,600 Google Apps for Education accounts for students. “Our Google solutions and services are creating new learning spaces that are spontaneous and less constrained,” says Kevin Powers, technology director at Fenton Area Public Schools.

Teachers are providing students with opportunities to work, learn and collaborate anytime, anywhere using technology beyond the classroom walls. For example, they created live after school study groups via Google Hangouts and Docs, as well as virtual book clubs during the summer via Google Groups. The district also used Hangouts to host a CNN Hero of the Year nominee, who spoke to three elementary classrooms at once.

For students and teachers in Michigan, the classroom is now bigger and richer. With Google for Education tools, students and teachers have global opportunities in the classroom and beyond.

Check out more schools’ stories and join us for a webinar on January 28th at 3pm ET / 12pm PT.

We’ve heard great stories from many of you about how you’re using technology to do amazing things in your schools, so we're going across the U.S. to see for ourselves! Check out the map below to see where we’ve been. We’d love to hear what’s happening in your state, so please share your story on Twitter or Google+ and tag us (@GoogleForEdu) or include the #GoogleEdu hashtag.

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For a number of years, I thought I would become a rabbi. I loved the idea of merging my interests in creative writing, philosophy and parsing texts with social engagement and counseling. But as an interracial Jewish woman, I struggled with how to pursue that path. It was painfully clear that I looked so different than others around me and it eventually became too difficult for me to ignore. I decided not to pursue rabbinical school, and I left the Jewish nonprofit world. When I thought about what made the rabbinate so appealing to me was, I realized that what I really wanted to do was help people.

Many people want to use their knowledge, skills, and interests to help others. With that in mind, this week, we are introducing a new opportunity called igniteCS.

The goal of igniteCS is twofold. First, we want to encourage undergraduate students who have an interest in computer science, diversity, and helping others to apply what they’re learning in the classroom through mentoring. We provide funding, resources, and support while student groups develop a program, find a faculty advisor, and take it into their local community. Here’s how it works:
The second goal for igniteCS is to provide a space or those undergraduate students who may be feeling discouraged on their own journeys to experience community, build confidence and create a mentoring program they can feel positive about. I can’t help but think that if I had a similar program to help me through my struggles as a person of color interested in rabbinical school, maybe I would have persevered.

We piloted igniteCS last spring with ten ACM-W chapters in the US and one in Puerto Rico. We received such positive feedback that we are now opening up the application process to groups of students in all US higher education schools, provided they have a faculty advisor and at least one student involved in a women in computer science student group.
igniteCS participants Haley Adams and Keely Hicks check out apps created by their mentees at Rhodes College
Applications are now open through January 22, 2016. Before applying, you can check out the eligibility requirements, guidelines and what to expect from the application on our website at g.co/igniteCS. You will also find a calendar for our Hangout On Air sessions to help you create a solid program, ask any questions you may have, and feel confident in applying. We are excited to help you help others, as you ignite passion for computer science in younger generations!

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Editor's note: Schools across Florida are seeing great success with Google for Education. Today we’re featuring tips from School District of Lee County, Okeechobee County School District and Escambia County School District. To learn more, watch this recent webinar with Lee County. And if you’ll be at FETC from January 12-15, visit us in the Expo Hall at #2221.

The state of Florida is leading the way for digital instruction. A recent state mandate requires that K-12 students have access to digital learning resources. The shift from paper-based to digital content is prompting students to research and publish their work online while encouraging teachers to innovate in the classroom. We recently asked instructional technology administrators in Florida who use Google Apps for Education, Google Classroom and Chromebooks to share their recommendations for introducing new technologies and tools in the classroom. Here are their top five tips:

1. Create an IT support community 


Providing IT support across campuses can be a drain on resources, so instead of hiring a huge IT team, ask tech-savvy teachers to serve as resources for technology questions. They need not be experts, but rather can act as liaisons to direct teachers and students to the right channels and communicate with the IT team about any overarching challenges.

The School District of Lee County (case study) uses this model to streamline IT support and strengthen its community. “The small group of teachers act as on-the-ground support,” says Dwayne Alton, director of IT support. “They facilitate conversations and figure out what tech matches the students’ and teachers’ needs.”

2. Encourage teachers to share their success stories 


Tech-savvy teachers often find innovative ways to incorporate new technologies in the classroom, and can be great advocates for helping other teachers identify new ways of teaching. Ask teachers to share the unique ways they’re using new tools. For example, Scott Rust, a high school english teacher at Escambia County School District, keeps students attentive and on task when he’s taking attendance by having them fill out five questions in Google Forms. “All of my students participated in the assignment, were engaged and well behaved,” Rust says. “It was amazing to start class on such a positive note — and as a side benefit, all of the students’ answers from Google Forms downloaded into a single spreadsheet.”
7th grade students at Caloosa Middle school in Lee County collaborating in Google Docs





3. Make professional development flexible 


Some teachers will be excited to have new teaching tools, but others may prefer to use the whiteboard or pen and paper. Provide teachers with a variety of opportunities to learn how to use technology to improve their teaching, boost productivity and make learning more interactive.

Okeechobee County School District hosts C@mp IT, a two-day professional development summit with workshops about how to use devices in the classroom. If your schools don’t have the resources or time for a summer summit, consider after-school training sessions or online video training.

4. Consider how technology can improve state-wide testing 


Technology can ease some of the hassle of student testing. When Okeechobee County School District used laptops and PCs for the Florida Standards Assessment testing, the IT team had to prep the devices and make sure no applications ran in the background. Chromebooks streamlined the testing process, as the IT team only had to switch the devices to kiosk mode.

Similarly, Escambia County School District uses Chromebooks for testing to reduce the administrative burden. Says Jim Branton, coordinator of technology services at Escambia County School District: “The ability to test a grade level all at the same time without scavenging computers from all over campus into makeshift labs made scheduling and administering the tests significantly easier than years past.”

Introducing new technology reduces the amount of time spent on testing, some schools have found. “In our two 1:1 middle schools, it would take two weeks to get all the students through testing. Now with Chromebooks, it should take less than a week,” says Shawna May, director of information technology at Okeechobee County School District. “That’s less time taken away from instructional class time.”

5. Share a resource hub with how-to resources 


Some teachers spend a good chunk of class time teaching students how to use technology most effectively in their studies, rather than teaching them class material. Create a resource hub so teachers have an easy place to find resources, including video tutorials and how-to documents, that they can use to teach students how to use devices and digital learning tools. “Teachers can send students a 3-minute video about how to turn in a Google Doc using Google Classroom, so they don’t have to use valuable class time showing students how to use the tools,” suggests Michelle Branham, coordinator of instructional technology at Okeechobee County School District.

We’ve heard great stories from many of you about how you’re using technology to do amazing things in your schools, so we're going across the U.S. to see for ourselves! Check out the map below to see where we’ve been. We’d love to hear what’s happening in your state, so please share your story on Twitter or Google+ and tag us (@GoogleForEdu) or include the #GoogleEdu hashtag.

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Editor's note: New York is seeing great success with Google for Education. We talked to educators and administrators to reflect on how technology has changed what it means to teach and learn in New York. From group projects to collaborative lesson plans to online assessments, technology has improved the learning experience for students across the state. To learn more about Google’s solutions for Education, join the webinar with Amherst Central School District today at 2pm ET / 11am PT.

Learning isn’t just about listening to a lecture or reading a textbook. Similarly, educational transformation isn’t just about introducing technology. It’s about encouraging students to think differently, work together and make their education personal. Schools in New York are giving students more freedom and flexibility to learn and collaborate with the help of tools like Google Apps for Education, Chromebooks and Google Classroom. We’re highlighting a few ways New York schools are transforming their classrooms and benefiting from technology:


Enabling teachers to think outside the box


At Massapequa Public Schools (case study), teachers are providing students with a variety of learning resources, from articles and text-based guides to videos and audio content. For example, when students were studying Pythagorean theorem in math class, the teacher filmed a video showing students the math concept, a2 + b2 = c2, so they could reference the information from home. When students have access to digital learning materials at home, they’re able to learn anytime, anywhere. 

With Google for Education, students have access to learning resources anytime, anywhere. Says Bob Schilling, executive director for assessment, student data and technology services at Massapequa Public Schools: “Students watch videos and access their teacher’s resources at home in order to be introduced to concepts, then spend class time applying those concepts in authentic experiences. That changes the value of a 40-minute class period.”

Getting moms and dads involved in education 


Amherst Central Schools (case study) wants parents to be a bigger part of their children’s learning and is using technology to get them more involved. With Google Apps for Education and Google Classroom, parents can see whether their child has started a project or needs a nudge. Students access their work wherever they are and can share progress with their families. For example, Jake, a third grader, shared his presentation about Canadian culture and history with his parents as he worked on the assignment so they could see what he was learning.

Teachers also create instructional videos to help parents take on the role of the teacher at home. While Michael Milliman, grade 5 math teacher at Smallwood Drive Elementary School, taught students a complex problem, parents could reference the 30-second video that Milliman created. “Learning is meant to be a social and collaborative process,” says Anthony Panella, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction at Amherst Central Schools. The district is helping extend the social aspect of learning to include parents.

Teaching students technology and teamwork skills for the future 


Rochester City School District’s (case study) main goal is to teach students skills that they can use during their education, in their careers and beyond. Many students don’t have access to technology at home, so Rochester City School District is teaching them how to use technology. And since students need to know how to work with others regardless of the line of work they pursue, teachers are also helping students learn teamwork by assigning group projects aided by collaboration tools. For example, fifth grade students collaborated in person with their peers on a biome project and provided feedback to their teammates using the chat and commenting features in Google Docs.

Schools continue to provide students with innovative online learning resources that help students learn more and teachers personalize education. Check out the schools’ stories and register for the webinar with Amherst Schools happening today to learn more.

We’ve heard great stories from many of you about how you’re using technology to do amazing things in your schools, so we're going across the U.S. to see for ourselves! Check out the map below to see where we’ve been. We’d love to hear what’s happening in your state, so please share your story on Twitter or Google+ and tag us (@GoogleForEdu) or include the #GoogleEdu hashtag. 

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We built Classroom to save teachers time, and we know that grading is one of those tasks that can involve a lot of little time wasters. In fact, students have turned in more than 200 million assignments via Classroom to date, which adds up to a lot of grading hours. Today, we’re launching new features to help make grading a little faster and easier.

  • Export Grades to Google Sheets: In addition to .csv files, you can now export your grades directly to Google Sheets. The Sheets template includes a class average and an average per student. If you have ideas about how we can make this export to Sheets even more useful, please leave us feedback by clicking the question mark at the bottom left of the Classroom page, then choosing “send feedback.” 
  • Easier to update grade point scale: We know not all assignments are out of 100 points. You've always been able to change the point value, but a lot of teachers had trouble finding this feature. So we’ve made it easier to change the grading scale to any number you need it to be. 
  • Keyboard navigation for entering grades: When you’re entering lots of grades, you need a fast way to navigate from student to student. We’ve added the ability to use the up and down arrows to move directly from the grade entry area for one student to another. 
  • Sort by name on grading page: In addition to sorting students by completion status (done, not done), you can now sort by first or last name. 
  • And in case you missed it last month, you can now add a private comment for a student when you’re returning their work. 

In addition to these grading improvements, we’ve been hard at work on other updates. We’ve polished the look and feel of Classroom on the web with icons to help differentiate items in the stream and added a cleaner look for comments and replies. We’ve also recently updated our Android and iOS mobile apps, so they’ll now load even faster. You can post questions for students on the go, and Android teachers can reuse previous posts. Finally, you can now post a question from the Classroom Share Button, which you can find on some of your favorite educational websites.

We hope you’ll find these updates helpful, and you’ll get a chance to relax and refresh over the winter break (or summer, for our friends in the Southern Hemisphere). Look for more Classroom updates next semester.

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(Cross-posted on the Research blog.)

The Course Builder team believes in enabling new and better ways to learn (for both the instructor and learner). Today's release of Course Builder v1.10 furthers these goals in three ways, by being easier to use, embeddable and applicable to more types of content.

Easier to use
We took a step back and re-envisioned the menus and navigation of the administrative interface based on the steps instructors take as they create a course. These are designed to help you through the process of creating, styling, publishing and managing your courses. This re-imagined design gives a solid foundation for future versions of Course Builder.
A completely redesigned navigation simplifies content authoring and configuration.
To support this redesign, we’ve also completely revamped our documentation. There’s now one home for all of Course Builder’s materials: Google Open Online Education. Here, you’ll find everything you need to conceptualize and construct your content, create a course using Course Builder, and even develop new modules to extend Course Builder’s capabilities. The content now reflects the latest features and organization. This re-imagined design gives a solid foundation for future versions of Course Builder.

Embeddable assessment support
What if you want to use some of Course Builder’s features but already have an existing learning site? To help with these situations, Course Builder now supports embeddable assessments (graded questions and answers with an optional due date). Simply create your assessments in Course Builder, copy the JavaScript snippet and paste it on any site. Your users will be able to complete the assessments from the comfort of your existing site and you’ll be able to benefit from Course Builder’s per-question feedback, auto-grading and analytics with just two short lines of code that are automatically generated for you.

We started with embeddable assessments because evaluation is so important to learning, but we don’t plan to stop there. Watch for additional embeddable components in the future.

Applicable to more types of content
Many types of online learning content, like tutorials, exercises and documentation, are a lot like online courses. For instance, they might involve presenting content to users, having them do exercises or assessments and allowing them to stop and return later. Yet, you might not think of them as traditional courses.

To make Course Builder a better fit for a broader set of online content, we’ve added a new “guides” experience. Guides are a new way for students to browse and consume your content. Compared to typical online courses -- which can enforce a strict linear path (from unit 1 to unit 2, etc.) -- guides present your content as a non-numbered list. Users are free to enter and exit in any order. It also allows you to show the content for many courses together.

You could imagine each guide being a documentation page or tutorial section. Guides also work with any existing Course Builder units and can be made available by simply enabling that feature in the dashboard. Here are a couple of our courses, when viewed as guides:
Within each guide, the user is guided through the steps, which could be portions of a docs page or lessons in a unit, as in this example from the “Power Searching with Google” sample course:
By letting users jump in and out of the content as they like, guides are ideally suited to the on-the-go learner and look great on phones and tablets. It’s our first foray into responsive mobile design... but it won’t be our last.

Guides currently support public courses, but we’ll be adding registration, enhanced statefulness and interface customization, as well as elements of dynamic learning (think of a personalized list of guides).

This release has focused on making Course Builder easier to use and more relevant. It sets up the framework to give future features a natural home. It adds embeddable assessments to make Course Builder useful in more places. And it introduces guides, a new, less linear format for consuming content.

For a full list of features, see the release notes, and let us know what you think. Keep on learning!

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Many schools have told us that Chromebooks have helped them transform learning. Those in Texas and North Carolina have shared stories of students using Chromebooks to better connect with their teachers and peers and expand their learning opportunities (you’ll see more stories in the coming weeks from districts in New York, Florida and Michigan). But beyond opening new avenues for learning, Chromebooks are also helping schools save money, allowing them to meet tight budgets and provide computers to more students.

Plymouth-Canton Community Schools  one of the largest districts in Michigan  for example, told us that they’ve been able to save $200k in the 3rd grade alone, by purchasing Chromebooks over alternative devices. They've been able to leverage those savings to purchase charging carts, protective cases for the devices and additional power adaptors so that students can charge the Chromebooks at home and at school. The same has been true outside of the US. Earlier this year, Academies Enterprise Trust, a network of 76 schools across the United Kingdom, anticipated that they could save £7.7m in hardware and maintenance costs by using Google Apps for Education and Chromebooks.

To more fully understand the total cost of ownership and savings impact of Chromebooks, we commissioned IDC to conduct interviews with 10 schools using Chromebooks to support teaching and learning in 7 countries. The study comprised of 10 schools in 7 countries representing 294,620 students in all, across United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark, Australia and New Zealand. The interviews consisted of a variety of quantitative and qualitative questions designed to obtain information about the economics of deploying Chromebooks for these school systems as well as the impact of using Chromebooks on their students and faculty. Some of their key findings:
According to one school district in the study, Chromebook’s price point enabled the school system to reach a 1:1 user-device ratio, something it couldn’t have done before given the cost of their previous devices. They said, “We now have a 1:1 device solution with Chromebooks … Without Chromebooks, either we would have fewer devices or we would have had to spend four times as much to get to the same point.” For this district, being able to expand the number of students who have daily or consistent access to educational content on Chromebooks represents a substantial advantage and supports their core missions.

You can read the full whitepaper here, and calculate how much time and money Chromebooks can save for your school.

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Editor's note: Hania Guiagoussou is a junior attending Dublin High School in Dublin, California. Born in Montreal with parents from Chad, Hania is a tri-citizen Canadian / Chadian / American. Hania, when not coding, is also a long distance runner with Dublin High’s Track & Field team. She joins us today to share her perspective on how she became a coder. We celebrate CS Education so students like Hania can keep changing the world through apps like Hania’s WaterSaver.

What’s the first thing that comes into your mind when you hear the term “coding”? Is it “geek”, “weird”, “boring”, or “complex”? If you came up with anything similar, chances are you are just like me before I started programming. My dad is a computer engineer and was constantly trying to get me into coding. I was more interested in enhancing my talent in art and drawing. I resisted, and just like most people my age, thought coding was a complicated foreign language. Nothing seemed cool or fun about it.

All of my opinions about programming changed, however, once I attended a Java programming workshop for kids. I was skeptical and honestly wasn’t excited about going at first. Once I arrived we started playing around with an animation tool called Alice. After a few hours we were taught the basics of the tool, and were left alone to experiment and develop our own programs. I ended up getting hooked and spent hours creating my first animation. I was actually having fun and forgot that I was programming. I still felt like an artist, applying my imagination to a screen instead of paper. After the workshop I fell in love with coding and began to program animations for school projects and for fun.

Using my newly acquired coding skills, I went on to develop projects with social impact. My first project was WaterSaver, which opened doors to countless opportunities and even fame! WaterSaver is a Java-based system built on the Raspberry Pi platform that intelligently controls water sources. The project was inspired by California’s severe drought and Lake Chad’s progressive disappearance (my parents are originally from Chad). The idea came about when I noticed that despite the severe drought, many households in my neighborhood weren't controlling their water usage. To solve this problem I programmed a system that adapts to changes in weather and soil conditions, and that gives users the ability to monitor and control water sources from anywhere. After completing my project I realized that my coding skills were like superpowers that I could use to innovate, help others, and change the world!
Hania hard at work on her Rasberry Pi / Java-based WaterSaver project
I submitted WaterSaver to a Pan-African competition in Chad. There I competed against many highly skilled competitors a lot older than me. The experience was nerve-racking, but I believed in my project and knew that it had the potential to help others. I ended up winning 3rd place in Africa and 1st place in Chad. The prize was quite grand, $10,000 in my pocket! After the award ceremony, kids were running up and trying to take pictures with me; they were just amazed by what I had accomplished. I also had the media dying to schedule newspaper, radio, and TV interviews with me. Keep in mind that 24 hours prior, I was just an ordinary, unknown teen.

My favorite part of the experience was that I inspired so many children in Chad. During my trip I had the chance to sit down with other girls and exchange details of our everyday lives. I discovered that these girls were a lot like me -- they were connected to social media, watched TV, and went to school. The striking difference, however, is that many young girls in Chad (and in many other countries in Africa) are forced to get married before the age of 18 despite restriction regarding underage marriage in their countries. This fact shocked me and helped me realize how lucky American girls are to have the opportunity to finish school.

A year after my trip to Africa, I was given another amazing opportunity, a Keynote speech at Javaone for Kids. During my talk I had the chance to inspire hundreds of kids to pursue coding and follow their dreams. A week later I was selected among 9 million Java developers from around the world to become the youngest recipient of Oracle’s Duke’s Choice Award, which recognizes and honors outstanding innovation using Java technology. This award was not just a win for me, but for all teenage girls. I want other girls to see what I have accomplished and have the opportunity, and the will, to do the same.
Hania receiving the Oracle Duke's Choice Award (Hania is with her dad Mahamat and an Oracle rep)
I used to be a typical teenage girl who thought coding was boring and odd. I never really saw myself as programmer and just thought it wasn't for me. But little did I know that attending one workshop would completely change my perception. I came to realize that programming is like art: you use creativity, imagination, and critical thinking to create a functioning piece of code.

Women are highly underrepresented in the tech field. Statistics from The Huffington Post indicate that In 2013, just 26 percent of computing jobs in the U.S. were held by women. I don't have to check statistics to figure that out. At my school, every engineering class has an uneven male to female ratio. I remember one of my friends asking me “what class are you going to” and I responded “computer programming”. She cringed with a disgusted look!

My friend’s reaction opened my eyes. I see my old self in every single girl who believes that she isn’t smart enough, strong enough, or determined enough to engage in the tech field. That is why I have made it my mission to get young girls around the world to embrace and see the potential of programming, to discover their hidden talents, and to believe that all you need to code is the determination and passion to learn.

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Editor's note: Building on the last post about the importance of perceptions of CSand computer scientistsin the media, here we're sharing more about the new initiative from Made with Code and Disney•Pixar to show the power of code this CSEdWeek. 

If you’ve seen Disney•Pixar’s latest hit Inside Out, a film about 11 year old Riley as she journeys through life with the help of her Emotions, you know it’s a movie with the power to capture students’ imaginations, engage their creativity and tap into their emotions.

This year, in celebration of Computer Science Education Week, Google’s Made with Code initiative is tapping into that spirit by teaming up with Disney•Pixar to launch a new Inside Out coding project—inspiring students to explore how computer programming plays a role in animated films like Inside Out.
The new coding project invites students to navigate Riley through three different movie scenes using a visual programming language, and introduces coding principles, such as sequencing, if / then statements and looping, along the way. After each completed level, students unlock scenes from the film, and when students need to try again, the lovable Emotions from Inside Out cheer on.
In addition, to help change perceptions of coding, the initiative also features profiles of the women who use computer science to bring Inside Out and Disney•Pixar animated films to life, including Danielle Feinberg who uses code to create the lighting for animated films, and Fran Kalal who uses programming to design and simulate characters’ outfits.

This project builds on Made with Code’s effort to engage more teen girls in computer science and to help them see coding as a means to pursue their dream careers. Since its launch in 2014, millions of teen girls have participated in introductory Made with Code projects, ranging from coding holiday trees outside of the White House to programming 3D printed wearables, and even making the lights and patterns of an LED dress that went down the runway of NY Fashion Week.

As students across the U.S. participate in this year’s Hour of Code we hope students and teachers alike will enjoy the new Disney•Pixar and Made with Code project online, as well as the supporting videos, this week and all year long

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Editor's note: Positive perceptions of Computer Scientists make CS Education more inclusive, accessible and identifiable to all students. If you’re ready to start your first Hour of Code during CSEdWeek 2015, check out Google’s High Seas and Inside Out introductory Hour of Code activities.

My TV hero growing up had red hair, wore awesome outfits, and taught science to a diverse group of students. You guessed it, she’s Ms. Frizzle aka The Frizz from PBS’s The Magic School Bus! Her mantra was “Take chances, make mistakes and get messy. It’s the only way you learn.” That mantra is particularly relevant in the world of technology and computer science (CS), and here at Google we are continually trying new, sometimes crazy ideas, and learning from our successes and from our failures. But, what if Ms. Frizzle had never existed?

Close your eyes. Think of your favorite TV show or movie. Is there a scientist, a hacker or, more specifically, a computer scientist in it? What do they look like? Chances are, they are male, white or Asian, wear glasses, and are portrayed as nerdy and anti-social. Based on analysis from the Geena Davis Institute (GDI), only 11% of family films, 19% of children’s shows and 22% of prime-time programs feature women and men equally in speaking parts. Combine these staggering statistics with an overall dearth of CS characters on-screen (see chart below), and it’s no wonder we all think of the same stereotypical image for a programmer.
Why is this a problem? As Google’s Women Who Choose CS--What Really Matters study and the recently published Google-Gallup report, Images of Computer Science: Perceptions Among Students, Parents and Educators in the U.S. found, perceptions of careers in computer science really matter. On-screen stereotypes of those who engage in CS persist as do students’, parents’, and educators’ personal perceptions leading to particularly girls and underrepresented boys not seeing themselves in the field- or in other words, if you can’t see it you can’t be it.

At Google we believe we have a role to play in bridging this gap, which is why we’ve assembled a team that is focused on making CS more appealing to a wider audience, by dispelling stereotypes and showcasing positive portrayals of underrepresented minorities in tech. We are working hand-in-hand with writers, producers, networks, studios, and our own YouTube team to create new and diverse storylines about the limitless creative opportunities computer science provides. This is an opportunity to lift back the curtain on tech and feature stories that all too often go untold.

We’ve partnered with writers and producers of a variety of shows, including ABC Family’s The Fosters, Disney Jr’s Miles from Tomorrowland, FOX’s Empire and HBO’s Silicon Valley to bring the voices of real-life diverse software engineers to the screen. We also premiered award-winning director Lesley Chilcott’s newest film, CodeGirl, on YouTube for free for five days garnering almost 1M views. Great partners like Geena Davis Institute, Paley Center for Media, Campus Movie Fest and others are raising awareness of these issues and helping to move the needle on diversity in Hollywood.

We’re excited to join YouTube Kids in celebrating Computer Science Education Week with a curated playlist (on the YouTube Kids app) of Google engineers’ favorite CS content, including a special piece celebrating Ada Lovelace’s 200th birthday (Today, Dec. 10th). We hope Ada will inspire budding programmers everywhere so over on YouTube Kids we’re bringing her story to life with a little help from Presley at Act Out Games and Inklings Creative. Who is Ada Lovelace, you might ask? Well, you’ll have to watch the short film to find out!
Celebrate Ada’s contributions to CS by sharing the short with friends and family and join us in changing the face of CS one image at a time.

Ideally, one day all students will have an inspiring role model that they can relate to and that encourages them to “take chances, make mistakes and get messy!” It really is the only way to learn.

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Editor's note:Mark Kaercher teaches mathematics at Shaker High School in Latham, New York. He is also one of his school district’s Instructional Technology Resource Teachers. Here, Mark shares his experience with using Google Apps for Education alongside GeoGebra, available as an app for Chrome and now as a native Android phone app.

Every so often, over the course of a long teaching career, we find a special tool or resource that makes us wonder how we ever taught without it. Personally, I’ve had a lot of success with GeoGebra, a free mathematics program for teachers and students. GeoGebra lets me build and share interactive worksheets that demonstrate geometry and algebra concepts. Along with relying on it myself, I’ve helped other educators use GeoGebra by creating how-to videos and leading training sessions.
My first GeoGebra worksheet, created in 2011
 So when my school started using Google Apps for Education last year, there was a big question on my mind: Is it compatible with GeoGebra? Not only do they work well together, but Google Apps has helped me get a lot more mileage out of GeoGebra. Instead of just a teaching tool, it’s now become a hands-on learning environment. This has transformed my classroom into a math lab where students use Google Apps and GeoGebra to explore shapes and patterns, complete assignments, and share their work with both me and their classmates.

During a typical class, I start by posting an agenda in Google Classroom to get us all on the same page. Then I might create a GeoGebra assignment and ask students to paste screenshots of their work into a shared Google Docs file.

Everyone has their own Chromebook to use, so they can each work individually in GeoGebra – and they can even save a step by signing into GeoGebra with their Google Apps account. Now, with the new Android phone app my students can create, search, save and share their ideas and homework from their phone, saving to Drive and sharing in Classroom. Meanwhile, I track their progress and grade their submissions in Classroom.
Sometimes I have my students record screencasts of their GeoGebra worksheets using the Screencastify extension for Chrome. They can save their videos to Google Drive and share them with me through Classroom. You can see more about how I do this here.

It’s been really neat to see how beautifully Google Apps and GeoGebra work together to bring my lessons to life. It’s also been exciting to watch my students embrace and learn these new tools – to the point that they’re sometimes the ones showing me how to do something. I was especially proud when some of my students helped me demo Google Apps and GeoGebra at a recent school board meeting, sharing their growing passion for using instructional technology in the math classroom.

I’ll always be a math teacher, but I also see myself as a technology teacher. I want my students to understand that technology isn’t just about taking selfies and sending texts. Now, thanks to GeoGebra and Google, they’re using it to interact with mathematics in a whole new way.

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(Cross-posted on the Open Source blog.)

Editor's note: We're celebrating Computer Science Education Week through December 13, and hope to inspire students to explore CS all year long. Code-in is a great opportunity for students to start on their 'second hour of code' and beyond.


For the sixth year running, teens from around the world now have the chance to learn and develop new CS skills by competing in Google Code-in (GCI). By working on real software projects—with help from mentors along the way—students just starting out with Computer Science can begin to investigate and discover the countless opportunities at their fingertips through code.


During the seven weeks of Google Code-in, pre-university students (ages 13-17) can browse hundreds of tasks created by 14 open source organizations. Students then get to choose the tasks they find most intriguing. A wide variety of skills and interests are required to make any software project work, so the tasks in Google Code-in are designed to reflect that diversity. Students can choose to work on projects across documentation, coding, training, research, quality assurance, user interface and outreach tasks.

The 14 organizations students can work with during the contest encompass many fields: health care for developing countries, learning activities for elementary students, desktop and portable computing, the encouragement of young women in computer science, game development, to operating systems used in satellites and robots.

Each task has at least one mentor assigned to it - not only to review the student’s work, but to help answer questions along the way. Each organization also offers beginner tasks that give students who are newer to open source development an easy and clear place to get started. Another goal of the contest is to encourage students to find a coding community that they enjoy working with and hopefully become an active contributor for years to come.

Over the last 5 years, over 2,200 students from 87 countries have successfully completed tasks by participating in Google Code-in. To celebrate CS Ed Week this year, please help us introduce even more young minds to open source software development through Google Code-in. To learn more about Google Code-in— including rules and FAQs—please visit the site and the Getting Started Guide.

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(This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post)

Editor's note: Parents are champions and changemakers in education. During this CSEdWeek, here are a few easy steps to dispel CS stereotypes and encourage all students to explore the power of code. If you or your students are ready to try an hour of code, get started now with High Seas and Inside Out.

As I waited for my first grader, Gabriel, to come out of his after school care classroom, I powered up LightBot, a mobile game designed to introduce programming principles to kids, for his younger brother Zeke to play. After a few taps to maneuver the robot to light up the final square, Zeke clapped his hands and as he looked up with a big smile on his face, he saw that a captivated audience of first graders had crowded around him, eager to get a turn at the game. This unplanned demo led by my youngest son made me wonder if the parents of Gabriel’s classmates were introducing them to games based in computational thinking and computer science, they certainly seemed eager to learn more.

Computer Science Education Week, an annual week of programs dedicated to inspiring K-12 students to take interest in computer science, is a perfect opportunity for parents to get engaged. While not every student will become a computer scientist, a baseline understanding of computer science can help develop better thinkers and more informed users of technology. Unfortunately 75% of high schools in the US don't offer classes in computer science or coding and by 2020, there could be 1 million more computing jobs than there are students to fill them. This is a missed opportunity for our students and our nation.

I feel incredibly lucky that my job at Google is to run a team where the mission is to solve this challenge. We’re conducting research that looks at who does and doesn’t have access to computers and coding classes and what drives students, especially those underrepresented in the tech industry, to go into computer science in the first place. We’re also working to create ways for more students to have access and exposure to computer science opportunities outside the classroom. The challenges above can't be solved easily but they can be tackled with action from parents that's focused on encouragement and exposure-- things that parents know how to do well.

If you’re not sure where to begin, I’ve answered some of the most common questions we hear from parents below. And don’t worry, you don’t need a degree in computer science to get involved!

What is computer science anyway? Google’s research has found that more than half of parents, teachers, and principals have trouble defining computer science. Let’s clear this up. Computer science is building the machines, developing the set of instructions that tell the machines what to do and how all of this applies to solving world problems. (ACM/CSTA Model Curriculum for K-12 Computer Science)

Is computer science only for “nerds”? Absolutely not! It’s our job as parents to help debunk this myth, but that's tricky when many students have the impression that computer scientists are super nerdy men with glasses. At Google we’re doing our part by advocating for positive and diverse images of computer science on screen. Recent examples of our work with Hollywood include Loretta from Miles from Tomorrowland on Disney Junior and Mariana from ABC Family’s The Fosters. We need to ensure that our kids are exposed to positive role models both on- and off-screen. Made with Code is an initiative to inspire girls to see that code can help them pursue their passions by highlighting diverse role models as mentors who have integrated coding into their lives in fun and creative ways.


Computer science classes aren’t offered at my child’s school. Where can I find CS-related clubs or activities? Lots of activities are vying for our kids’ attention. As parents, we need not only to find opportunities, but to prioritize the ones that work with our student’s learning styles. Ideally, all schools would offer computer science to all students, but that’s easier said than done. We’ve learned that 85% of parents believe that computer science is as important as math, history, or English. Yet only 25% of schools offer computer science. To close the gap, parents need alternative computer science learning resources outside of school.
                      
There are now a host of introductory and free programs for elementary school students including Google’s High Seas and Inside Out Hour of Code activities, which are one-hour introductions to computer science designed to demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics. There’s also CS Unplugged which doesn’t even require access to technology. If your student is in middle school or high school, you can find programs through The Connectory, including Google’s free CS First program, which helps any adult - a teacher, parent, or coach - facilitate a coding club. Hopefully with more options and lower barriers to entry, parents will have the flexibility to choose the right computer science learning opportunity for their families.


What can I do to encourage my student Ensuring that your kids have access to computer science education, however, is just half the battle. You also have a critical role when it comes to encouraging your kids. For some parents it might be learning alongside your kids or driving them to coding events. While for others it may be helping to critique a science fair project like Hania Guiagoussou’s father who pushed her to focus on ideas that would have a social impact. Hania went on to become the youngest recipient of Oracle’s 2015 Duke’s Choice Award, which celebrates innovation in the use of Java technology, for her WaterSaver project that helps consumers control and monitor their water use.

What happens when the projects become harder and the problem sets start to require more effort? In NCWIT’s Top 10 Ways Families Can Encourage Girls’ Interest in Computing, one of the recommendations when the going gets tough is to help our students have a growth mindset. As Carol Dweck writes in her book Mindset, “if parents want to give their kid a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their kid to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning.”

With each exposure to fun learning opportunities that integrate computer science principles, both of my sons Gabriel and Zeke are starting down a path to be creators as well as more educated consumers of technology. My hope is that all parents will understand the critical role that they play in shaping their students’ mindset for lifelong learning and see the power of computer science to make our lives and the lives of those around us better.

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Editor's note: For CS Education Week, we are celebrating the educators that lead the way by making CS education accessible and inclusive. Stay tuned all week for more programs and stories that celebrate CS champions every day of the year.

Today, Google’s Computer Science for High School (CS4HS) award program opens applications for the 2016 year. Since 2009, CS4HS has provided funding for over 400 computer science teacher professional development (PD) opportunities around the globe. Through these PD opportunities over 20,000 teachers have gained confidence in their understanding of computer science (CS) and learned valuable skills for teaching CS to students. Despite these accomplishments, a recently published Google-Gallup study found that nationwide many teachers incorrectly identified “creating documents or presentations” and, to a lesser extent, “searching the Internet” as part of computer science. If teachers better understand what CS is, learning opportunities can branch beyond literacy and delve deeper into CS concepts, allowing students to acquire skills that are useful and in demand across a growing number of fields. What we learn from research drives why and how we invest in CS teacher PD.
Ramona Santa Maria, CS4HS facilitator from Buffalo State College, problem solving with CS teachers
 In the US, we are eager to continue funding PD efforts that have strong plans for creating new or working with existing Communities of Practice (COP) that support ongoing professional development. This focus is grounded in a wide body of research (for example Joyce & Showers, 2002; and Wiske, Stone, & Levinson, 1993) demonstrating that COPs are a critical element for producing and sustaining innovation in the classroom.

When the new AP Computer Science Principles course launches in 2016, the College Board anticipates that 18,000 students will be interested in taking the AP exam. In an effort to help prepare educators to teach the new AP course, we will fund applications that include PD content that is centered around some or all of the Seven Bigs ideas from the AP Computer Science Principles Framework.

Also, based on research, we believe that regionally based PD allows practitioners to tailor the learning objectives to meet the specific needs of teachers in their areas. We encourage colleges, universities, and educational non profits from all regions of the country to apply.

Funding across the globe
In Canada, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, CS4HS is looking to fund applications that include strong plans for the establishment of new, or work with existing COPs that support ongoing professional development as well as PD content that is focused on the critical principles of computer science. Australia/New Zealand will continue to support PD focused on national CS curriculums and China will continue to support their App Inventor CS PD model.
CS4HS organizer, Alfredo Perez from Columbus State University, providing in-class mentorship for a new CS teacher

Get started with your application
Criteria vary from region to region so please visit the CS4HS website to learn more about the eligibility requirements and deadlines specific to your region and to get started on your application. We hope this year will provide many opportunities to partner with the CS education community to grow and strengthen the CS teacher community around the globe. We hope you’ll be a part of it, and look forward to reviewing your application.

Stay connected
Join the CS4HS Google+ community to connect with past CS4HS organizers and learn about HangOuts on Air we’ll be hosting during the application process. And be on the lookout for an announcement later this month regarding the launch of the RISE Awards for funding student outreach programs.

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Editor's note: For CSEdWeek this December 7-13, we are encouraging students to try High Seas and Inside Out, Google’s new introductory Hour of Code activities. We’re also going behind the scenes on the Google for EDU blog with stories and resources for the parents, educators and students that champion CS education every day. Stay tuned this week to learn more!

This year, Computer Science Education Week runs from December 7 through 13th and students, teachers, volunteers and organizations across the world will participate in a wide variety of activities and events. Very few people know, however, that it all began with one person who wanted to make things better.

In 2008, Calvin College Computer Science professor Joel Adams attended a regional ACM conference where he attended a session focused on advocating for computer science education. This session inspired him to question why secondary school students in his home state of Michigan had so few opportunities to take rigorous computer science courses when the data showed a tremendous demand for jobs in computing-related fields. Adams was especially concerned because the downturn in manufacturing had devastated Michigan and he believed his students deserved better opportunities and better jobs. Adams collected the jobs and education-related data and made an appointment with Dr. Vern Ehlers, his representative in the United States Congress. Ehlers heard Adams’ message and decided to take action.

Meanwhile, ACM and the Computer Science Teachers Association had been working to raise the profile of K–12 computer science education nationally. Cameron Wilson (then ACM’s Director of Public Policy) happened to be a former staffer for Rep. Ehlers. Following the meeting with Adams, with Ehler’s support, Wilson and Ehlers’ staffer Julia Jester drafted a resolution to designate the week of Grace Murray Hopper’s birthday as “National Computer Science Education Week”.

House Resolution 558 was introduced June 18, 2009. Rep Bart Gordon (D-TN) introduced the resolution in the House and Rep. Ehlers (R-MI) spoke eloquently in favor of his motion as did Jared Polis (D-CO). The resolution passed and was enacted on October 20, 2009 and with the help of numerous organizations, companies (Google among them) and individuals, the first celebration took place the week of December 7, 2009.

The annual event continued to grow and in 2013 it reached unprecedented levels with the participation of Code.org and the launch of the Hour of Code. Thanks to Code.org’s efforts, public figures from Ashton Kutcher to President Obama were talking about the importance of learning computer science. To date, more than 137,683,279 people have gotten a taste of computer science as Hour of Code participants.

As the global conversation about the importance of computer science education has grown, so too have the events. In Europe, Google helped launch EU Code Week which took place October 10-18th, 2015 with more than 150,000 people and 4000 events in 37 countries. From October 1-10, 2015, again with help from Google, 88,763 children and youth participated in more than 3,000 events in 17 countries during Africa Code Week. These are just two examples of the computer science education celebrations internationally.

Computer Science Education Week, whatever the event is called and whenever it takes place, is now a global experience. Everyone is invited to participate, and anyone can make a difference. And you can be sure that you will be hearing more about what Google is planning. But it is worth knowing and remembering that it all began with one man, who wanted to make life better for his students and did something about it.

Stay tuned for more posts on this topic throughout the week tagged with #CSEdWeek2015, on our Twitter and Google+ pages, too!

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Our goal is to ensure teachers and students everywhere have access to powerful, affordable and easy-to-use tools for teaching, learning and working together. We have always been firmly committed to keeping student information private and secure.

On December 1st, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) published a complaint regarding Google Apps for Education (GAFE) and other products and services especially Chrome Sync. While we appreciate the EFF’s focus on student data privacy, we are confident that our tools comply with both the law and our promises, including the Student Privacy Pledge, which we signed earlier this year. The co-authors of the Student Privacy Pledge, The Future of Privacy Forum and The Software and Information Industry Association have both criticized EFF's interpretation of the Pledge and their complaint.

I want to reiterate some important facts about how our products work, how we keep students’ data private and secure, and our commitment to schools, more broadly.

Google Apps for Education Core Services 
The GAFE Core Services -- Gmail, Calendar, Classroom, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Contacts, Groups, Vault and Hangouts -- are the heart of Google’s educational offering to schools. Students’ personal data in these Core Services is only used to provide the services themselves, so students can do things like communicate using email and collaborate on assignments using Google Docs. There are no ads in these Core Services, and student data in these services is not used for advertising purposes.

Chrome Sync
Chrome Sync enables Google Account holders to log into any Chromebook or Chrome browser and find all their apps, extensions, bookmarks, and frequently visited web pages. For students, this means that they can get to work, right away. That's one of the reasons Chromebooks have become so popular in classrooms, especially for schools that can't afford a device for every child. With Chromebooks and Chrome Sync, students can have a personalized experience on any device they share with their classmates.

Personally-identifiable Chrome Sync data in GAFE accounts is only used to power features in Chrome for that person, for example allowing students to access their own browsing data and settings, securely, across devices. In addition, our systems compile data aggregated from millions of users of Chrome Sync and, after completely removing information about individual users, we use this data to holistically improve the services we provide. For example if data shows that millions of people are visiting a webpage that is broken, that site would be moved lower in the search results. This is not connected to any specific person nor is it used to analyze student behaviors. If they choose to, educators, students and administrators can disable Chrome Sync or choose what information to sync in settings whenever they choose. GAFE users’ Chrome Sync data is not used to target ads to individual students.

Additional services
Schools can control whether students or teachers can use additional Google consumer services -- like YouTube, Maps, and Blogger -- with their GAFE accounts. We are committed to ensuring that K-12 student personal information is not used to target ads in these services, and in some cases we show no ads at all. In Google Search, for example, we show no ads when students are logged in.

We build products that help teachers teach and help students learn. We are constantly working to improve our products and we take all feedback from customers and consumer protection groups seriously. You can learn more and stay updated on our commitment at google.com/edu/trust.

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It was over a decade ago when we held our first Google Teacher Academy with a goal of bringing together outstanding educators using technology in the classroom. With so many changes since then, we decided it was about time to make some changes to the program as well. So today we’re thrilled to announce that applications are now open for the new and improved Google for Education Certified Innovator program—an energizing 12 month professional development experience for creative leaders in education. Built from the same magic that was present in each Academy, but extended into much more than a onetime event.

Certified Innovators help their organizations, each other and Google push the boundaries of what’s possible in education. As ongoing participants in this community of educators, they transform the organizations they’re serving, advocate for change, and grow their own capacity as thought leaders. The new program focuses on helping Innovators launch a transformative project to help improve education in their schools, regions, or the world. Support includes mentorship, online learning activities, and an in-person Innovation Academy.

 Kelly Kermode, Integrated Learning Strategist at Forest Hills Public Schools in Grand Rapids, Michigan and member of the Chicago 2013 says of the program: “This program has reinforced my freedom to try new things, fail and rebound. It is energizing that this group strives to break down classroom walls and give students barrier-free classroom experiences through innovation. It keeps me fulfilled as an educator.”

It’s this diversity of ideas and people that makes the Innovator program special. Our current community is comprised of over 1,500 educators, administrators, and thought-leaders representing 49 different countries. “What keeps me engaged is the energy you get from working with like-minded educators. Although it’s hard to put into words, it is inspiring to be part of a community that says ‘what if...’ rather than ‘no we can’t...’ and are willing to push the boundaries beyond what we already do well", says Adrian Francis, Director of Student Learning at Concordia College in Adelaide, South Australia and member of the Sydney 2013 cohort.
Certified Innovators move forward by iterating on projects they are passionate about. New to the application is a section for each applicant to share their vision for a creative solution to a challenge in education. Innovators will be selected based on the vision they present as well as their passion for teaching and learning, innovative use of technology in school settings and potential impact on other educators. "The Certified Innovator program is where the lone wolf meets their pack. It’s where the dreamers, the disrupters, the idealists meet with the intention of being the change” says Tanya Avrith, pedagogical consultant in South Florida and member of the New York 2012 cohort.
If you have an innovative idea and would like the support of passionate educators to make it happen, please apply. We recognize that innovation occurs at all levels and roles in the education community, which is why we’re excited to invite a diverse set of education professionals to apply - from teachers to administrators, Pre-K to Post-Secondary. If you know of someone who would be a great fit for the program, you also have the opportunity to nominate an innovator.

Key dates: 
December 2, 2015: Applications open
January 11, 2016: Applications close at 11:59 PST
January 18, 2016: Applicants notified of selection to program
February 24-26, 2016: In-person Academy in Mountain View, California, USA
January 18, 2017 or before: Launch date of new innovation projects

We’re excited to expand the program to reach more Innovators across North America and in other countries throughout 2016. Anyone is eligible to apply to the program although preference may be given to in-region candidates. Please stay tuned for more application dates and locations. We can’t wait to innovate with you.