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Google in Education South Africa Summit

| March 16, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Kevin Sherman
On 26 September 2013, the Secondary Faculty at Parklands College, Cape Town, became the first school on the African continent to host a Google Apps for Education (GAFE) Summit.1

The event was conducted by the EdTech Team, in partnership with Parklands College and nongovernmental organisation SchoolNet South Africa, to bring a world-class educational technology conference to Cape Town.2 Over 360 professors, teachers, principals, education department officials, technology specialists and librarians from across South Africa and other African countries, were treated to two days of exciting and motivating presentations and workshops. Executives from Google South Africa and the Google in Education team in Google’s London office also attended.

Parklands presenters promoted e-tools

Parklands staff members were among the local presenters who filled the programme over the busy two days. Sylvia Steyn, Richard Knaggs, and Michael Swart presented a session called ‘Life on the Run in Educational Management Abated with Google Apps’. Audience members said this session helped them understand how they could apply the tricks and tools they had learned in other sessions in a practical way at their own schools.

Teachers Jayshree Pillay and Anthony Peters shared their Dragon’s Den project with the conference delegates. This project integrated English assessments, as well as design and economic and management sciences curricular objectives, with highefficacy Google and Apple apps. Based on the BBC series Dragons’ Den,3 the project combined the subjects in an authentic marketing proposal task. Kevin Sherman, head of curriculum and learning at Parklands, delivered two presentations.

The first, on how to use Google’s advanced search features, allowed participants to practice new skills and consider how they would teach their learners to ‘search deeper’. Sherman’s second session, entitled ‘Supporting Teacher Professional Development with Google Apps’, showed delegates how Google tools can help them plan, organise, manage and deliver professional development for their staff.

Participants impressed

Visitors to the Parklands campus were not only impressed by the international and local presenters, but also by the Secondary Faculty’s beautiful facilities and wireless connectivity. For the conference, MWEB4 donated a 100MB international internet connection that enabled hundreds of delegates to access the Web with amazing speed. Parklands College’s information technology (IT) staff contributed to the positive experience by providing support to delegates and presenters. Over 20 Parklands College staff members also attended as delegates.

Upon returning to campus after the spring break, teachers began putting into practice many of the techniques and tools they had learned. Teacher Emma Oxley-Simpson used TodaysMeet, demonstrated by American educator Rushton Hurley,5 to have her first graders share their holiday news with each other. Learners wrote posts and commented on each other’s experiences on their iPads, utilising technology to enrich their literacy skills. Secondary Faculty economics teacher, Stephen Le Feuvre, asked learners conducting research to use a shared Google Doc for their note-taking.6

Using EasyBib,7 learners automatically referenced their sources as they took notes, and Le Feuvre was able to look at the shared documents and leave his own comments. Parklands teachers’ responses to the Google Summit demonstrate how this unique event will continue to inspire teaching and learning at the college for some time to come.

Kevin Sherman is head: curriculum and learning at Parklands College.
1. See, for example:
2. Ibid.
3. See, for example:
4. MWEB offers e-commerce, internet access, hosting, domain registration,
e-mail and design services. (Source:
5. See, for example:
6. See, for example: Google Docs is a free web-based application in which
documents and spreadsheets can be created, edited and stored online.
7. Easy Bib is a web-based programme that creates citations for resources in
MLA, APA and Chicago/Turabian styles. (Source:


Category: Autumn 2014, e-Education

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