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Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort engages guests with Chrome signage

Category: Google | Feb 10, 2017

Editor’s note: Today we hear from Chet Patel, director of Information Technology at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. Read how the resort uses Chrome digital signage to inform guests about events and staff about important news.

At the Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort, we’re constantly looking for creative ways to put our guests first. That ethos drives our day-to-day work at the resort, where we’re using Chrome-based digital signage as a new way to keep our visitors up to date on activities and events and to communicate with staff.

Disney Swan and Dolphin digital signage

We’re a big resort, with more than 2,200 guest rooms and facilities spread out over 87 acres of lakefront property in the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fl, which makes communications challenging. To solve the problem we chose NoviSign’s Chrome-based digital signage solution because it’s cost-effective, scalable and secure. 

We can easily customize it as our needs change. Because Chrome signage is simple to deploy, it had a minimal impact on our existing IT infrastructure. NoviSign made deployment easy by helping with training and hosting the platform.

Chrome digital signage helps our staff and guests get useful information throughout the day. At the front desk, our employees show incoming guests videos of rooms they might want to choose. And we use the signs to tell guests about activities at the resort and news such as the weather so they can grab a poncho if there’s a thunderstorm heading our way.

In our employee-dedicated areas, the human resources department alerts staff to important news, such as when it’s time to enroll in our health plan, and the security department plays safety-related videos.

Chrome digital signage is so easy to manage that IT staff doesn’t need to get involved with programming. Each department handles content on their own from the central console, which means our team can focus on IT-related work, such as resolving key encoding problems or point-of-sale workstation issues. We’ve also saved considerably on the devices. It costs less than $200 in set-up, configuration and licensing fees for a Chromebit to power a digital sign, compared to up to $600 for a PC. Maintenance is minimal because we don’t have to apply security patches or worry about continual updates; Chrome devices are automatically updated.

So far we’ve deployed a dozen Chromebits and two Chromeboxes, and we’re planning to use more in the coming months. It’s keeping with the way we’ve always operated at the Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort, by using the newest technologies for the most time-honored purposes: entertaining people and making sure they have the best vacations possible.


Time to discover new places in Africa. Ghana, Senegal and Uganda now on Street View

Category: Google | Feb 10, 2017

From the lovely scenic mountains of the south, to the beautiful beaches of the west, and the exotic parks of east, the regions of Africa contain some of the most breathtaking views in the world.

Starting today, you can take virtual tours of some of the most iconic landmarks and monuments in Ghana, Senegal and Uganda. That means Street View now covers 81 countries from across the world, and seven in Africa.

You can now virtually explore the UNESCO World Heritage-classified village of Nzulezo in Ghana, which is built over Lake Tadane, and consists of stilt-supported structures integrated seamlessly with the water-dominated natural landscape.

If you have an eye for cultural entertainment, you can now also take a virtual walk inside the National Theatre of Ghana, home to the three resident companies of the National Dance Company, the National Symphony Orchestra, and the National Theatre Players.

Explore amazing African art by taking a tour of Senegal’s imposing African Renaissance monument, a 49 meter tall bronze statue on top of one of the twin hills just outside Dakar, Senegal.

Other iconic landmarks now in Street View include the stunning Lake Retba, a unique lake known for its pink waters, and take a “drive” through major roads and towns including Dakar, Saint Louis, Thies and Touba.

We partnered with the Uganda Wildlife Authority to capture imagery of some of Uganda’s most beautiful and iconic National Parks, home to an amazing variety of wildlife. With our Street View Trekker, either carried by our team or mounted on a vehicle, we travelled through seven parks, including the stunning Queen Elizabeth National Park, which is home to 10 primate species, including chimpanzees, and more than 600 species of birds.

We’re excited that what began with a few South African cities in 2009, has now expanded to many other cities in seven countries across the continent. From Cape Town to Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania and now Ghana, Uganda and Senegal, we’re glad that more people from around the world can get a glimpse of this beautiful continent. We think you’ll be tempted to pack your own cameras to explore in person as well!


Your music. Your home. Better together.

Category: Google | Feb 10, 2017

It’s never been easier to enjoy the perfect music for any moment with Google Home and Google Play Music. Forget digging around for cords or adapters, needing to find your phone, or combing through your CD collection—when you combine Google Play Music and Google Home, you can enjoy the perfect song or playlist with a simple voice command.

Say you’re making pizza and your hands are covered in flour. Just say, “Ok Google, play music for cooking” and we’ll serve up the perfect tunes, like our R&B Kitchen Dance Party playlist. If you’ve had a long day at work and are too tired to move a muscle, say “Ok Google, play music for relaxing” and get a playlist like Mellow Pop without lifting a finger.*

Google Play - Google Home Device

The right music for your home

Google Play Music uses machine learning and information like weather, activity, and location to give you the right music for what you’re doing right now. This helps deliver the best contextual music recommendations for any situation. All you have to say is “Ok Google, play some music,” and you’ll get the perfect music for your home.

Since Google Home is powered by the Google Assistant, you can ask questions like “Ok Google, who sings this song?” and tell it to do things like “Ok Google, turn it up!” You can even say “Ok Google, thumbs up this song” or “Ok Google, play something else” to help us learn more about your music preferences and serve you better recommendations.

If you haven’t tried Google Play Music yet, starting today through February 27, you’ll get six months of Google Play Music for free when you buy a Google Home device.** Complete your home music system by adding a Chromecast and get $15 off when you buy the two together.

Experience the music

But don’t take our word for it—come experience Google Play Music and Google Home yourself. We’re throwing a block party in Los Angeles (February 11-12) and New York City (February 24-26), and you’re invited! We’ve built a tiny neighborhood with three mini homes and invited Wong Fu Productions, MyCupcakeAddiction, and Us the Duo to show how they use Google Play Music with Google Home.

Check out our webpage to learn more. We hope you can join us this weekend in LA or later this month in NYC!

Google Play - Tiny Home

*Google Play Music trial or subscription required for all music queries.
**With Purchase. Ends 2/27/17. Redeem by 3/6/17. $9.99/mo. charge unless you cancel before trial ends. New subscribers only. Terms apply.


The new, improved ChromeVox screen reader

Category: Google | Feb 9, 2017

Worldwide, 285 million people are visually impaired; 39 million are blind and 246 million experience low vision. As two people with visual impairments, we’ve experienced firsthand the transformational effects of assistive technology—specifically screen readers, which enable people to “read” the screen with synthesized speech or braille, and provide keyboard shortcuts to help people quickly navigate complex sites and apps. Today we’re introducing a new, more efficient and powerful version of ChromeVox, which is now the default screen reader on every Chromebook running on Chrome OS 56 or above. ChromeVox can be enabled at any time by pressing the key combination Ctrl + Alt + Z.

Our new version of ChromeVox makes the existing set of keyboard commands even easier, helping you navigate through sites, apps and the Chromebook interface without a mouse. The keyboard commands not only work in web pages, but also across other key parts of the interface, like the Chromebook status tray menu.

We’ve also added new ChromeVox menus that make it easy to find, learn and use all available commands. These menus feature a list of your open tabs, ChromeVox options, speech options, and lists of key items on the given page, such as links, headings or tables. Press Search + Period, or click on the ChromeVox icon in the upper-left corner to open the menus and explore.

Chromebooks are compatible with most USB braille displays, which generate braille based on what is currently on the computer screen. In the updated ChromeVox, you can use commands on the braille display keyboard to navigate through Chrome, rather than switch back and forth to the Chromebook keyboard. The result is a more fluid and streamlined experience for braille users.

A new ChromeVox Panel makes it easier for teachers who work with students who are visually impaired. The Panel shows text (and Braille captions if you choose) at the top of the Chromebook screen, so that a teacher can follow along with what a student is hearing or reading on a connected braille display.

Finally, we’ve added a new set of auditory features—known as “earcons”—that provide contextual information, like when you’ve reached a button, link or checkbox on a page, or when a page is still loading. Earcons have built-in stereo audio positioning that provide insight into how a given page or app is visually designed—for example, if you navigate to a button on the left side of the screen, you’ll hear the button earcon from the left speaker or headphone.

To send feedback or report issues from within ChromeVox, press Search + A then I. You can also post in the forum, or consider joining our ChromeVox-Discuss Google Group. We hope you love the new ChromeVox—but if you’re not ready to make the switch, you can still use the original version for now. Just press Search + Q to switch back to ChromeVox Classic. For more information, visit the Accessibility section of the Chromebook Help Center or watch our video about transitioning to the new version of ChromeVox.


With VR in your browser, see the world like a Grizzly

Category: Google | Feb 9, 2017

Editor’s Note: Support for Origin Trials of WebVR launched in Chrome M56. WebVR allows web developers to build VR experiences with a single web app that can reach people through all compatible browsers and VR headsets like Daydream View.

We’re exploring some of the early WebVR content that’s available now, starting today with the critically-acclaimed documentary Bear 71 VR, produced by the National Film Board of Canada. We caught up with Loc Dao, Chief Digital Officer of NFB, to explore why his team chose WebVR.

“The train took me by surprise. I had cubs to defend, and it took me by surprise.

I did what comes naturally.

I roared. And then I charged.”

Bear 71 VR is a fully rendered VR film that explores the disconnect between humans, animals and nature caused by our habit of viewing the world through the lens of technology. It documents the challenging interactions between humans and wildlife in Banff National Park in Canada from the perspective of Bear 71, a female Grizzly Bear. Collared and tracked by surveillance cameras from a young age, she attempts to survive in a once-secluded habitat now teeming with human visitors and suburban expansion. The original version of Bear 71 won a Gold Cyber Lion Award from the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival and a 2013 Webby Award for best net art. It resonated with audiences for its empathetic treatment of a familiar challenge: the impact of humans on wildlife habitats. We’re excited to bring it to life in VR today.

Bear 71 VR Trailer

Bear 71 originally launched as a Flash site in 2012. Since Flash is no longer supported in some browsers, we were eager to explore WebVR, both as a way to preserve the project’s legacy and a chance to stretch the experience of the story. If the film could be narrated from the perspective of the bear, what else was possible?

The documentary was produced by the National Film Board of Canada in collaboration with Google, the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), Doclab and Sound and Vision. The result is a new experience: the magic of the original Bear 71, only more up close and personal. Using Chrome with a Daydream View headset, it was featured at IDFA and shown by Google at New Frontiers VR Bar at the Sundance Film Festival.

We were attracted to WebVR for a number of reasons. First, WebVR demonstrates that innovation on the web, in browsers like Chrome, is still possible. The National Film Board, which produced Bear 71, is a public institution — so we saw this as a chance to support the democratic web; using open web standards allows everyone to enjoy the experience and allows for maximal free expression. It made sense for the project, too. Bear 71 is a landmark interactive documentary, set in a 3D world, so it lends itself well to virtual reality.

Bear71 body image

To remake Bear 71 for WebVR, we rebuilt the site in HTML5 with three.js for multiple platforms — desktop, mobile and VR. For more details on the technical implementation, check out our in-depth case study.

This experience is live on the web, and we hope you can check it out!


Experience Virtual Reality on the web with Chrome

Category: Google | Feb 9, 2017

Virtual reality (VR) lets you tour the Turkish palace featured in “Die Another Day,” learn about life in a Syrian refugee camp firsthand, and walk through your dream home right from your living room. With the latest version of Chrome, we’re bringing VR to the web—making it as easy to step inside Air Force One as it is to access your favorite webpage.

For a fully immersive experience, use Chrome with your Daydream-ready phone and Daydream View—just browse to a VR experience you want to view, choose to enter VR, and put the phone in your Daydream View headset. If you don’t have a headset you can view VR content on any phone or desktop computer and interact using your finger or mouse.

You can already try out some great VR-enabled sites, with more coming soon. For example, explore the intersection of humans, nature and technology in the interactive documentary Bear 71. Questioning how we see the world through the lens of technology, this story blurs the lines between the wild world and the wired one.


Bear 71: The intersection between humans, animals and technology.

Tour Matterport’s library of 300,000+ celebrity homes, museums, canyons, iconic architecture and other real places.


Matterport VR: The largest library of real world places in VR

Watch more than two dozen award-winning VR films with Within—from gripping tales set in worlds of pure imagination to documentaries taking you further inside the news than ever before.

VR WIthin NYT 16

Within: Extraordinary stories in virtual reality

Discover​ more than a million stunning 3D scenes in VR with ​Sketchfab, from your favorite anime and video game characters to famous works of art. Join the community and contribute your own creations, or just enjoy and share your favorites.


Sketchfab VR: enter new dimensions

Experiment and play in the WebVR Lab from PlayCanvas. Try teleporting around the space or playing a record with your Daydream controller.


Explore the WebVR Lab from PlayCanvas

We want to bring VR to everyone on any device, and in the coming months we’ll add support for more headsets, including Google Cardboard. Try out these VR-enabled sites to be one of the first to experience the magic of VR on the web.


How three districts help their teachers learn and grow throughout the school year

Category: Google | Feb 9, 2017

Throughout the year, teachers are hard at work preparing lesson plans and improving their skills. And after school, on the weekends and during breaks, they also invest time in professional development, to expand their knowledge base and learn from their peers. We asked three school districts to share their best practices and programs to help teachers sharpen their skills and advance their careers. These programs can serve as inspiration for training programs throughout the school year.

Training for teachers by teachers
Okeechobee County School District’s professional development program, Camp IT, is democratic: for teachers, by teachers. At the two-day summer training camp, teachers brainstorm topics, such as how to use Schoology or Google for Education to engage students, and the 12 most popular topics, chosen by a vote, are explored throughout the day. This loose structure, which is often referred to as “unconference,” allows for personalized learning and more informal and interactive peer discussions.

“The more teachers can take charge of their learning, the more voice they will have because they’ll be learning what they’re passionate about,” says Michelle Branham, coordinator of instructional technology.


Teachers at Camp IT talk in small groups about how they use technology in the classroom.

Camp IT’s informal and intimate setting encourages more teachers to lead and contribute to sessions. With groups of five to 10 people, teachers feel more comfortable sharing their expertise and advice than they would with a large room of people.

“When the program began six years ago, vendors led a lot of the sessions at Camp IT, but we’ve shifted to a teacher-led program because teachers take more away from peers who are teaching them than a vendor who hasn’t used the tool in the classroom,” says Shawna May, director of information technology.

Providing a flexible, personalized program with incentives
Seminole County Public Schools holds a two-week summer institute for teachers and administrators called “The Power of You.” The sessions focus on core subjects, like math and English, as well as the curriculum. If the school is rolling out new learning software, they’ll also host a session around how to use the tool in the classroom.

Teachers choose specific topics depending on what’s most useful to them, such as “How to Teach Visual Learners” or “How to Provide Valuable Feedback via Google Docs,” and have the flexibility to attend one day or the full two weeks. They also get a stipend to attend, and qualify for an additional stipend if they submit a reflection paper at the end of their professional development. For example, a teacher can turn in a sample lesson plan after learning about a new learning management system and receive the reflection stipend. “We believe strongly in reflection on implementation and practice,” says Beth Pocius, the district’s manager of blended and digital curriculum implementation support.

Showcasing teachers’ classroom success with technology
Martin County School District in Florida hosts a four-day program similar to Okeechobee’s Camp IT called CampTEACH. The program empowers teachers to lead sessions and share their skills, and gives them the chance to network with others in the district that they might not see during the school week.

“CampTEACH focuses on effective use of technology in the classroom and serves as a forum to highlight great strategies and techniques teachers are using and gives them the opportunity to share those with their peers,” says Douglas Konopelko, Coordinator of Digital Learning, a Level 2 Google Certified Educator and Certified Google Apps Administrator.


Douglas Konopelko leads teachers through a brief tour of Martin County School District’s digital resources.

Camp IT and CampTEACH differ in that Martin County invites educational partners, such as Promethean, Safari Montage and HMH, to lead sessions. This allows for enormous variety—the 2015 summer program featured 83 sessions—but the most-attended sessions are still those taught by teachers, who can share on-the-ground experiences and relate to their peers’ daily struggles.

For example, this year, Douglas Konopelko, along with Jessica Falco, Digital Learning Specialist for Martin County and a Level 2 Google Certified Educator, taught sessions about how to use  Google Apps for Education in the classroom. “When I was a high school science teacher and assigned students to do a presentation, they uploaded their presentations onto a flash drive and passed the flash drive back and forth,” says Konopelko. “Teachers who attended the session realized student presentations would be easier and more collaborative because students can work in the same document at home or school.”

“Teachers’ faces lit up when they realized the power of these collaboration tools,” Falco adds. “Through these trainings, teachers are now able to use Google tools that allow for students to create authentic products, work in real-time collaboration with their peers in one document and experience what Google really has to offer for the classroom environment.”

These districts are just a few that are personalizing professional development for their teachers’ needs. We’re always looking for new sources of inspiration—share how your district provides teacher training opportunities by tagging @GoogleforEdu on Twitter.


A new home for Google in the Philippines

Category: Google | Feb 9, 2017

A lot has changed in the four years since we opened the doors to our first office in the Philippines: another 20 million Filipinos have come online, and with the number of smartphone users expected to hit 70 million people next year, Filipinos are consuming more online content than ever before.

Our team of Pinoy-Googlers working here has grown too, and we recently moved into a new office that’s inspired by famous sites, sounds and a few stars from around the country.

Manila office reception

The jeepney is quintessentially Filipino, so there’s no better icon to welcome you to our office. These loud and colorful converted jeeps are the most popular way to get around the country. 

Manila office ping pong

Having fun is all part of a day’s work. We encourage Googlers to bond and get to know each other over a friendly game of ping pong, with stars like champion boxer Manny Pacquiao looking on.

Manila office - Tabon caves

Our spaces are built to encourage creativity and make collaboration easy — after all, that’s how the best ideas come about. Here’s one of our common areas inspired by the Tabon Caves. 

From the fiesta feeling in our cafeteria to the natural beauty of the limestone Tabon Caves, these Pinoy touches inspire us as we work on products and services that we hope will make Filipinos’ lives online easier, and to showcase more of our country’s culture and beauty for people around the world to explore on the Internet.

Sabtang lighthouse

Take in a 360° view of Sabtang in the country’s far north on Street View.

We recently added to the beautiful places you can visit in the Philippines on Google Street View, with nearly 200 new sites across the country from Batanes in the north, to Guimaras in the south. Check out this breathtaking 360° view of Sabtang Lighthouse.

Plaza Roma Intramuros

Visit Plaza Roma in Intramuros in virtual reality on Google Arts & Culture. Just select the Cardboard icon to switch to VR mode and pop your phone into a VR viewer like Google Cardboard.

And you can now take a guided, virtual reality tour of the walled city of Intramuros on the Google Arts & Culture platform. You can also appreciate Intramuros’ collection of historic religious sculptures.

Bringing more meaningful content online is just one way we’re helping to unlock the Internet for Filipinos. We’re also helping businesses of all sizes digitize so they can capture the opportunities of the country’s Internet economy, which is expected to grow in value to US$19 billion by 2025.

In the last four years, we’ve also seen the growth of many more businesses that are built entirely off of the Internet, like Zipmatch, a start-up that is using 360° technology to differentiate itself in the real-estate marketplace. Zipmatch is the first Filipino participant in our Launchpad Accelerator program, which provides equity-free support to help start-ups scale into thriving companies. We hope to see many more Pinoy Internet entrepreneurs come through this program.

These are just some of the exciting ways in which Pinoys are using the Internet, and how we’re working with them to make the most of it. But we want more people around the country to be able to take advantage of the opportunities that the Internet offers. With nearly two in five Filipinos still offline, we think we can play a role here. This is why we’ve announced that is supporting DigiBayanihan’s efforts to bring basic ICT skills to 1 million Filipinos across Visayas and Mindanao. By training so-called “digibayanis” (or digital heroes), we hope to increase digital literacy in hard-to-reach places, and build a more inclusive online environment.

DTI Secretary Lopez tried out Google Cardboard

Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Lopez joined us at our housewarming salu-salo, where he gave the Cardboard tour of Intramuros a whirl. Here’s what he had to say: “With the population getting more connected and engaged every day, it is necessary for individuals, businesses, and communities to have the right skills to thrive in today’s modern economy. We join Google in its commitment to promote digital inclusion, empower every Filipino online, and in effect, drive the country’s economy forward.”

Mabuhay and we look forward to welcoming you to our new home. And as everyone already knows, it really is more fun at Google Philippines!


Step "Into the Wild" with Tango at Singapore ArtScience Museum

Category: Google | Feb 8, 2017

The Sumatran tiger is among the most critically endangered species in the world, with just 400 tigers surviving today. Its natural habitat is also one of the most threatened regions. With a new virtual reality experience, visitors to Into the Wild at Singapore’s ArtScience Museum can get really close to this threatened species, walk through and learn more about its rainforest habitat. All you need to guide you on this educational virtual adventure is a smartphone with Tango, a technology that enables augmented reality experiences.

Into the Wild - Sumatran tiger

Into the Wild helps raise awareness for the endangered Sumatran tiger through an augmented reality experience built on Tango technology. You can tap on cards to view more information about the animals. 

Into the Wild - Sumatran tiger card

Into the Wild - Pangolin card

With phones that use Tango technology, it’s possible to track motion, understand distances in the real-world, and recognize locations. This is what makes it possible to build a virtual world on top of the real one. Into the Wild is only the second virtual and augmented reality museum experience using Tango.

Into the Wild - Butterflies

Start your digital adventure by picking up a Lenovo Phab 2 Pro when you enter. Fire up the device, follow a kaleidoscope of butterflies and watch the real world transform into a virtual forest.

As you walk through the exhibit and point the tablet in different directions, you’ll experience what it’s like to walk through the rainforest and meet some of its inhabitants along the way, many of which are endangered by deforestation and other illegal activity.

Into the Wild - Mouse-deer

Help free a trapped mouse-deer

You’ll discover a mouse-deer — the smallest known hoofed animal — that’s been trapped. You can help it escape by tapping the cage it is caught in.

Into the Wild - Tapir

Follow Malayan tapirs as they find a drink

Continue on your journey, and you’ll come across a stream and see a Malayan tapir as it waddles toward the waterfall for a drink. Malayan tapirs are hard to spot as there are less than 2,000 of them in the wild.

Into the Wild - Fire

A fire starts in the forest, threatening the animals

You might then see an orangutan enjoying some fruit as it lounges in the trees. But all of sudden, a raging fire will shatter the tranquil scene and blanket the forest with thick smoke.

What happens next? You’ll have to find out when Into the Wild opens at Singapore ArtScience Museum on February 11. Best of all, your actions can have a direct impact in the real world. When you complete your adventure, you can plant a virtual tree and donate to the WWF to help their efforts to restore Southeast Asia’s rainforests.

We’re thrilled by this collaboration with Singapore ArtScience Museum, Lenovo, WWF and many other great partners* to bring the Southeast Asian rainforest to life. We hope Into the Wild helps more people learn about some of the world’s most endangered species and their habitats, and that it sparks and inspires the imagination of current and aspiring developers to build many more exciting AR/VR experiences.

*Into the Wild was built in collaboration with Lenovo, WWF and Singapore artist Brian Gothong Tan, in association with Panasonic and Qualcomm, and developed by creative production company MediaMonks.


Four tips for project-based learning in the connected era

Category: Google | Feb 8, 2017

Editor’s note: As part of our ongoing celebration of students and teachers, we’re highlighting leaders across the world to share how they’re creating more collaborative, engaging classrooms. Today’s guest author is Claire Amos, one of the keynote speakers from Education on Air, Google’s free online conference which took place in December 2016. Claire, deputy principal at Hobsonville Point Secondary School outside of Auckland, New Zealand, shares how schools can adopt project-based learning to encourage students to think about the connected world.

What do “Ender’s Game,” science, gamification and history have in common? At Hobsonville Point Secondary School, our English teacher and science teacher put their heads together to design a class around the future of gamification, looking at influences from literature and the study of war.

In an increasingly connected world, it’s important for students to understand how seemingly different topics converge so they can be prepared for future education and careers. One way to teach these connections is through project-based learning—blending topics to remove the silos that typically exist between different subjects. That was our goal when Hobsonville opened in 2014, and since then we’ve learned a lot. Here are four tips for schools interested in project-based learning for the connected era.

Encourage reflection on learning

Many students start the school day by visiting their homeroom, where teachers call roll and make school-wide announcements. But the first class of the day should be spent teaching students to reflect on what they’re learning. At Hobsonville, we take a “learning hub” approach to homeroom, in which students meet in small groups with a learning coach for the first class three times a week. During this time, students set goals, reflect on successes and challenges, organize their priorities and get the mentoring support they need. Just 10 or 15 minutes, a few times a week, helps students get a more holistic view of their education.

Work with other teachers

Your fellow teachers are your greatest asset—make sure you’re communicating and joining forces when you can. At Hobsonville, we combine two subjects and teach students skills across the disciplines. Last semester, a science and PE module explored the physics of skateboarding. In an English and art module, students designed the school magazine. If you don’t have the expertise from teachers to explore a creative topic, bring in a guest speaker.

Empower students to lead community-based projects

Every semester students at Hobsonville choose a theme—like sustainability or robotics—and work with community partners to solve a related problem or design a product that will help people. For example, one group of students set out to make walking to school safer by creating wearable technology that lights up when students hold hands in a chain. Tying projects to the community creates lasting connections with organizations and helps students see the impact of their work on the real world.

MOE Hobsonville Point School 65.jpg

Partner with professionals to act as mentors

Every student should have a learning coach that guides them throughout their education. Invite alumni, professionals in the community and researchers to mentor your students and partner with them on projects. Students at Hobsonville have worked with a range of leaders including the founder and CEO of brain-sensing technology company Thought-Wired, a native food and beauty expert, and a young woman who is encouraging girls to pursue coding. It’s a win-win: These professionals mentor the students, and students help the professionals advance their businesses. Students not only learn how to apply their skills in the professional setting—they learn how to think beyond themselves.

It’s our job as educators to help students see the natural overlap between academic subjects, and to connect these lessons to everyday life. And through project-based learning and thinking creatively about lesson plans, we can make it happen.

Learn more by watching Claire’s recorded talk from Education on Air.