How do you find 50 people you don’t know from all over the world?

As you already know from a recent post, I’m lucky to be attending the Sydney Google Teacher Academy in April. I have to say, I’ve been curious to find out who is going and where they’re from. Someone started a Twitter #gtasyd hashtag which got the ball rolling, and soon I was adding people to my Twitter network and to a #gtasyd Twitter list. At one point, somebody asked for those attending the Sydney academy to share their 60 second video. I was thinking the same thing, although I’d tried searching YouTube but the results returned a mixture of people’s videos from different years.

Even though it seemed a little too obvious, I decided to create a Google Doc. This worked very well – after I realised that I’d made it public but hadn’t allowed anyone to edit. Soon #gtasyd people were coming in and introducing themselves, providing photos, a little background to place them geographically and add a personal touch, adding blog urls, Twitter usernames, and a link to their 60 second video.

You can have a look here if you’re interested. At first I thought we were either from Australia, New Zealand or USA but then Boris from Nizhny Novgorod, Russia added his details, followed by a ‘lucky Frenchman’.

Suddenly I’d gone from having very little information about the people I’d be meeting in Sydney – only those who were already in my PLN – to knowing quite a bit about them: where they lived, their identities on Twitter, Skype, Facebook, Diigo, etc., what they looked like, a little family background, not to mention the fact that I could browse their blogs for interests, focus, mindset and more. The fact that these people had a rich web presence made it easy to find the information I needed.

How important is a web presence? How important is it for us to help our students begin to create a digital footprint, a positive and authentic identity online?  These are obviously rhetorical questions. We need to stop focusing on the dangers of our students’ online activity and focus on teaching them to create strong, positive digital footprints.

At one point, as I was watching Boris (from Russia) enter his details on the Google doc (I love the way you can see it take shape right before your eyes), he noticed I was viewing and we had a short chat. That was cool – I was at school in Melbourne, Australia, and he was in Russia in a different timezone.

I’m glad that Australia finally got a go with Google Teacher Academy, and I’m looking forward to meeting everyone in April. I wonder what kind of projects and connections will come from this experience?

13 thoughts on “How do you find 50 people you don’t know from all over the world?”

  1. This is, no doubt, one of the reasons why you were selected – you take initiative and are a woman of action! I like the idea of a “positive digital footprint”…especially as everyone has heard so much about carbon footprints. I tip my hat (or I would if I was wearing one) to your creativity, ingenuity and supreme ability to think outside the square. How lucky the other 49 participants will be to have the opportunity to interact and exchange ideas with you!

  2. Dayle, you are making me blush. Thankyou for your extremely kind comments, and I wish that more educators (and regular people, haha) could have the opportunities that I’ve had to connect, share and learn with others, just as I wish our students could do.

  3. Thanks for setting up google doc – great idea to make connections before we all meet in Sydney. I too look forward to the incredible professional learning network that we have already begun to create. It is still mind blowing, even when you use technology everyday, to realise how quickly people can connect – just minutes after I read my GTA invitation via email I saw other NZer’s announcing their acceptance on twitter! Instant connections which have very quickly spread globally. Look forward to meeting everyone face to face in Sydney.

  4. You’re welcome, someone would have done it if I hadn’t. So easy and you say, and makes such a difference to our meeting in Sydney. I look forward to meeting you too, quite a few from NZ!

  5. Hi Tania, spot on with this post! Will be quoting you a fair bit with – “How important is it for us to help our students begin to create a digital footprint, a positive and authentic identity online?”

    I too have been quite overwhelmed actually with how quickly I went from my little cave into this incredible network with gtasyd. Thanks for setting up the google doc and I look forward to those vids this weekend. I am very excited about April and catching up! Cheers!

    1. I’m sure I will too, and look forward to sharing, reflecting, trying out new things, Helen. Congrats on being accepted into the Apple D.E program! What does that entail?

  6. Yes, Tania, it was a very exciting experience. I wish we could make something smart even before GTA. It seems all of us have a lot of “implicit” knowledge to share.

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