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The Elbphilharmonie is ready on Google. Come on in!

Category: Google | Nov 7, 2016

Since laying the foundation stone on April 2, 2007, Hamburg citizens and more have been waiting for the opening of the new cultural centerpiece of the Hansestadt: the Elbphilharmonie. Over the weekend the Plaza is finally opened, and architectural fans and music lovers alike can get a first impression of the impressive building in the HafenCity. At 37 meters tall, the public viewing balcony between the brick harbor storage and the glassy new building now offers an all-round view of the city and the port.


But a little patience is still needed for visitors: the concert area of ​​the Elbphilharmonie will not open its doors until January 2017. At Google, we didn’t want to wait that long. That is why, in partnership with the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, we’re giving an early preview of the Grand Hall on Google Arts & Culture and Google Maps!

With the help of Google Street View you can virtually walk from the main entrance over an 82 meter long, slightly arched escalator called the Tube which leads to the large panoramic window with harbor view. From there, you can take a second short escalator and a staircase to the Plaza and continue your way to the Grand Hall, the heart of the Elbphilharmonie. The large concert hall, which can accommodate as many as 2,100 visitors, is built according to the vineyard principle–which means the stage is in the middle and is surrounded by terraced audience seats. Above the stage you can see the great sound reflector hovering.

Elbphilharmonie Grand Hall

A Street View colleague is photographing the Grand Hall.

Speaking of sound: Have you already discovered the Klais organ with its 4,765 pipes? You can count them going to the 15th floor between seating sections P and Q  behind the acoustic wall (also called the “White Skin”).

But that’s not all: we’re going to travel with you into the history of the space at You can also access the content via mobile app of Google Arts & Culture (available free of charge for all iOS and Android devices). With just a few clicks, you can see how the Elbphilharmonie was created – from idea to reality. In this virtual exhibition, we are showing the architectural history of the Elbphilharmonie in numerous pictures and videos, making it for everyone possible to explore the impressive performance of the architects.


The 1,111 reinforced concrete beamers of the foundation had to be supplemented by a further 650 piles, to carry the 200,000 tonne weight of the Elbphilharmonie.

We’re also taking an additional step further into the past. Historical photos show the history of the former Kaispeicher A, on which today the glassy new building of the Elbphilharmonie stands.

Historical Harbor

The Kaiserspeicher was severely damaged in the Second World War, and therefore was blown up in 1963. On its own site, the second Kaispeicher A was constructed: a straightforward, solid brick building.

A particularly impressive experience is provided if you’re using a Google Cardboard, on which the tour through the building becomes a virtual reality experience – and the organ in the Grand Hall is close at hand. And with Google Expeditions, whole school classes can virtually travel to the Elbphilharmonie.

We are very happy to be able to take you to the new cultural heart of Hamburg and wish you a lot of fun discovering it!


Google and YouTube can help keep you informed on Election Day

Category: Google | Nov 7, 2016

It’s Election Day Eve, the day before before millions of people across the U.S. will head to the polls and cast votes for their elected officials. But before you get to the ballot box — and head out with that sticker! — check Google to get the information on where to vote and election results.

Starting when the polls close on Election Day, you will be able to find U.S. election results integrated right into your Google searches in over 30 languages around the world. You’ll also be able to see detailed updates and results of the Presidential, Senatorial, Congressional, Gubernatorial races as well as state-level referenda and ballot propositions.


For the past several months, Google has helped people find information about the democratic process: our search results have helped voters register and explained the voting process with information on how to vote, who’s on their ballot, and how to find their local polling place in both English and Spanish. Since releasing these in-depth search results, we’ve seen millions of people engage with these tools on Google — there’s even been a startling 233% increase in traffic for “how to vote” compared with 2012. In addition to “how to vote,” Americans are actively searching for “where to vote” — particularly in battleground states, as depicted in these county-by-county breakdowns:





Over the past few weeks viewers spent over 20 million hours watching – and rewatching – the presidential debate live streams on YouTube. Tomorrow, YouTube will be live streaming election results coverage from more news organizations than ever before. Starting at 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday, November 8, tune in to live coverage from NBC, PBS, MTV, Bloomberg, Telemundo and The Young Turks to keep up with all of the action as it happens. Complex News will also be delivering live coverage during a special election event from YouTube Space NY. And to close out YouTube’s #voteIRL campaign, creators and fans have been posting their #voteIRL selfie to mark that they’re going to vote. And tune in to some special voting reminder PSAs starring POTUS and some familiar-looking furry friends.


Whether you voted early, plan to head to the polls tomorrow, host an Election Night watch party, or live stream the victory speech from America’s new President-Elect, we’re here to help. From the ballot box to tomorrow’s late-night returns, we hope Google’s tools help guide you through Election Day in a simple, clear and informative way.

And one last thing: don’t forget to vote. It matters.


It takes a teacher to encourage students to draw inspiration from the world around them

Category: Google | Nov 4, 2016

Editor’s Note: As part of our ongoing celebration of World Teachers’ Day, we’ll be sharing stories that demonstrate the creative power of teachers worldwide, building towards a global online gathering of educators on December 3: Education on Air. Register today. And join the movement by sharing what teachers mean to you with #ItTakesATeacher

For Arlene Parra, who teaches Spanish to 9th and 10th graders at High Tech High Media Arts in San Diego, inspiration for classroom projects is everywhere – on the street, at home and on campus. “You have to be open to the world you live in, and the world your students live in,” she says.

Teaching in a school where about half of students are Latino, Parra is committed to helping students connect with their culture through language and the arts. “I grew up speaking both English and Spanish, but didn’t speak a lot of Spanish at home – it was something I reclaimed by studying it in college,” says Parra, who is Chicana and a native of nearby Chula Vista, California. Now, she works with students who want fluency to be able to connect more with their families and communities. Parra shared with us how she ties the curricula to current events and builds lessons around the pop culture and music that students are passionate about.   

It takes a teacher to use the outside world for inspiration

As a relatively new teacher – previously an apprentice, she was hired on as a full-time Spanish instructor just two weeks before the start of the school term – Parra is keen to flex her creative muscles. Her students come from different grades, backgrounds and levels of fluency, which means she needs to create tailored curricula for each class.

Parra looks for inspiration outside the classroom to find projects that will help students learn to use Spanish in their daily lives. While reading the local newspaper, she came up with the idea to have her class produce a Spanish language paper that focuses on the upcoming local and national elections. The newspaper will be handed out to people celebrating Dia de Los Muertos, the traditional Mexican holiday honoring the dead, on Nov. 2.

“It’s the perfect project for a Spanish class because there’s a place for everyone,” Parra says – beginners and advanced students alike. “We’ll have opinion pieces and crossword puzzles.” She’s even working on getting local journalists to speak to her students about political coverage and satire, which will build upon the election theme.

Students like Nolan, one 10th grader, love Parra’s ability to weave culture into her lessons. “I mean, on the first day of school she played the guitar and sang mariachi for us,” Nolan says. “She loves the culture and is able to showcase the beauty of it in new clever ways every day.”

It takes a teacher to engage students with technology, pop culture and music

The school’s project-based learning environment and technology let Parra experiment with ideas that demand independent thinking and research. In mid-September, to highlight Mexican Independence Day, Parra led students in researching Mexican artists. Each student chose a person to highlight and used Chromebooks and Google Slides to make a presentation. “I had 50 students working on this at once – it was amazing,” she says.

Parra also uses music to engage students. During a brief stint as an apprentice humanities teacher last year, Parra noticed how often students listened to music during their breaks. She realized she could build a lesson around this passion that so many of her students shared. “The popular songs that students listen to were a great segue to starting conversations in the classroom about social movements, like Black Lives Matter,” says Parra. She created a series of posters with song lyrics that spoke to social change and asked groups to write their own songs highlighting a social issue.

“This is what I love about being here,” says Parra of the charter school’s philosophy, which encourages students to work independently and choose their own paths for learning. “I can give kids so much freedom.”

“What makes Ms.Parra a fantastic teacher is her personality and the way she explains things so it makes it way easier to understand,” says Bryce, a 9th grade Spanish student. “Ms.Parra is also one of the most sweetest, funniest, and most caring teachers I know. I’m really glad I got her as my teacher and I can’t wait for more projects ahead.”

To connect with and learn from teachers like Arlene, join us for Education on Air on December 3rd.


Partnering with global carriers to upgrade SMS

Category: Google | Nov 4, 2016

SMS is one of the most ubiquitous forms of communication today, used by billions of people worldwide. Over the course of this year, we’ve worked with the mobile industry on an initiative to upgrade SMS for users, to provide a better, more enhanced messaging experience through RCS (Rich Communications Services). And now more than 58 carriers and manufacturers, collectively covering a subscriber base of 4.7 billion people globally, have committed to supporting a single, standard implementation of RCS.

Today, we’re excited to announce the next step in this initiative with our first carrier launch supporting the new universal RCS profile. Together with Sprint, we’re launching RCS messaging to their customers using Android devices, starting today. This will bring enhanced features including group chat, high-res photo sharing, read receipts, and more to the standard messaging experience on Android. Sprint subscribers will have their standard SMS experience upgraded through the Messenger app for Android devices, developed by Google. The service will be powered by the Jibe RCS cloud from Google.


Next year, all new Android devices from Sprint will come with Messenger for Android preloaded as the default SMS and RCS messaging experience. Subscribers currently using select LG and Nexus phones from Sprint will have the messaging experience upgraded automatically through an app update, and subscribers using other Android devices can download Messenger from the Play store.

We’re excited to see this first launch of RCS come to life, providing a better carrier messaging experience for millions of people in the U.S. We look forward to launching RCS with more partners in the coming months.


Project Shield: Defending Maka Angola

Category: Google | Nov 3, 2016

Rafael Marques De Morais is a journalist in Angola who runs Maka Angola, the largest independent news site in the country. Operating from Rafael’s kitchen table, Maka Angola may have a small staff, but its impact in Angola is massive. Their investigative journalism, covering topics from conflict diamonds, to wartime atrocities and crippling poverty, have given the citizens of Angola a platform where their voices can now be heard.

As a result of his coverage, Rafael has been threatened, thrown in jail and been the target of constant distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks to take Maka Angola offline. Rafael has been able to partner with Jigsaw’s Project Shield, ensuring that his site stayed online and continued its work.

The world’s news is under threat from DDoS attacks — a simple and inexpensive way for anyone with an internet connection to take down a news organization anywhere in the world. This type of cyber attack is one of the most pernicious forms of censorship in the 21st century.

Jigsaw’s Project Shield is a free service that uses Google’s technology to protect independent news sites and human rights groups from DDoS attacks. In light of the rising threat, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced earlier this year that Shield is available to journalists, news sites and human rights organizations around the world for free.

Learn more about Rafael’s story and the work of Project Shield.


Solving a Piece of the Teacher Pipeline Challenge

Category: Google | Nov 3, 2016

The recent White House Announcement of several key initiatives supporting CS4All has put a spotlight on the importance of providing access to Computer Science (CS) education for children in the U.S. But achieving the reality of enabling all students to study CS in school raises a critical question: “Where do we find teachers for these courses?”.

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, there are close to 126,000 schools in the U.S. with 58% of those reporting at least one computer science class  (Trends in the State of Computer Science in U.S. K–12 Schools). To make sure that ALL schools have a CS course, we need more than 53,000 teachers to fill the current gap. We also need a guaranteed pipeline of incoming teachers to replace those who retire or leave the profession every year.

But unfortunately, there are very few new CS teachers in the pipeline. According to the Department of Education, in the 2013-14 school year (the most recent statistics available) somewhere between 46 and 77 new CS teachers graduated in the U.S (depending on whether you look at the graduation figures by area or by academic subject). That’s a pretty drastic gap.

There are two ways to increase this number. The first involves transitioning current teachers from other fields to CS. This has been largely the focus of efforts by organizations such as the National Science Foundation’s CS10K program and’s direct work with 120+ school districts. These programs may meet existing demands for CS teachers/courses but do not allow for the predicted need. The long-term solution is to increase the number of new teachers coming out of teacher preparation programs. So far, efforts in this area have been few and far between.  

As noted in a previous post, the CS teacher certification system in the U.S. is deeply flawed. The majority of states do not have a CS teacher certification or endorsement. And while there is a growing number of states interested in creating these programs, they all need a way of ensuring that new teachers know what they need to know.

What if there was a way to jumpstart the new teacher pipeline by allowing teachers to demonstrate that they are ready to teach CS? For example, 39 states use Praxis exams for the purposes of licensure, but only 8 of these states (AR, ID, MD, ND, TX, WI, WV, and WY) currently have one for computer science—an exam under license from Texas. A CS licensure exam with buy-in from all states, however, could be used by both new teachers and by those already teaching in some other discipline to demonstrate that they are ready to teach CS. Such an exam could additionally allow teachers to more easily transfer their credentials to other states.

Of course, a nationally recognized testing body or vendor would need to develop such a test; it would need to be vetted as comprehensive and appropriate by the CS education community; and states would need to buy into the exam by officially recognizing if for a CS certification or endorsement.

Such an exam does not yet exist, and it wouldn’t address all of the factors contributing to the growing CS teacher shortage. But it could eliminate a key barrier for teachers who are ready to teach now and states that are truly committed to CS4All. Google is now working with the CS education community to explore interventions and ideas that could help to overcome these barriers.

CS Edu; Teacher Pipeline-10.png


Improving Quality Isn’t Anti-Competitive, Part II

Category: Google | Nov 3, 2016

When you search for something on Google, we try to provide you the highest quality information we can. Our engineers are constantly experimenting to find better ways to connect you with useful information, and, increasingly, to provide direct answers to your questions.

We take that same approach to online shopping searches. If you’re looking to buy a <coffee machine> or a <cast iron pan>, we want to connect you directly to merchants who sell them, whether that’s through organic links or ads. In recent years, we’ve improved the format of our ads to include more informative displays with pictures, prices, and links where you can buy products. Showing more useful ads benefits us, our advertisers, and most of all, you, our users.

What are Google Shopping ads and how do they work?

That’s why we disagree with the European Commission’s argument that our improved Google Shopping results are harming competition. As we said last year in our response to the Commission’s original Statement of Objections (SO), we believe these claims are wrong as a matter of fact, law, and economics.

The Commission’s original SO drew such a narrow definition around online shopping services that it even excluded services like Amazon. It claimed that when we offered improved shopping ads to our users and advertisers, we were “favouring” our own services — and that this was bad for a handful of price comparison aggregators who claimed to have lost clicks from Google. But it failed to take into account the competitive significance of companies like Amazon and the broader dynamics of online shopping.

Our response demonstrated that online shopping is robustly competitive, with lots of evidence supporting the common-sense conclusion that Google and many other websites are chasing Amazon, by far the largest player on the field.

We then showed that our improved ads were helpful to users and merchants. We never compromised the quality or relevance of the information we displayed. On the contrary, we improved it. That isn’t “favouring” — that’s listening to our customers.

This summer, the Commission sent us a revised version of its case called a Supplementary Statement of Objections. The Commission’s new filing didn’t offer a new theory, but argued that because sites like Amazon sometimes pay price comparison aggregator sites for referred traffic, they can’t also be considered rivals. But many companies simultaneously compete and cooperate. And in fact Amazon gets only a tiny fraction of its traffic from these services, hardly enough to support the idea they don’t compete with price comparison sites and a range of other internet shopping services.

Our second response, filed today, shows that the Commission’s revised case still rests on a theory that just doesn’t fit the reality of how most people shop online. Consumers don’t just look for products on a search engine, then click on a price comparison site, and then click again to visit merchant sites. They reach merchant websites in many different ways: via general search engines, specialist search services, merchant platforms, social-media sites, and online ads served by various companies. And of course merchants are reaching consumers directly like never before. On the mobile web — and more than half of Europe’s Internet traffic is mobile these days — dedicated apps are the most common way for consumers to shop.

German Online Shopping Behavior

Source: IFH Köln

While there’s no indication that the Commission ever surveyed consumers, the evidence is clear:  consumers can and do click anywhere and navigate to any site they choose.  All of these services — search engines, price comparison sites, merchant platforms, and merchants — compete with each other in online shopping. That’s why online shopping is so dynamic and has grown so much in recent years.

In the year-and-a-half since the Commission’s original filing, we’ve seen even more data confirming this. For example, a recent study shows that for many German online shoppers, Amazon is the first port of call on the web. A third of online consumers first go to Amazon, irrespective of where they ultimately make their purchases. Only 14.3% go first to Google, and only 6.7% to price comparison sites. A recent US study shows similar results: 55% of US consumers start their online shopping on Amazon, 28% on search engines, and 16% go straight to individual retailers.  

The Commission also claims consumers don’t go to Amazon to compare product features and prices. But Amazon provides tools to do exactly that, plus the ability to buy products and have them delivered the next day, which makes Amazon an even stronger competitor. It’s not surprising that when Amazon and other new competitors arrived in European countries, traffic to sites offering only price-comparison went down.

As the market changes, there are inevitably shifts among competitors. The data show that the handful of price comparison sites who’ve filed competition complaints don’t reflect the wider marketplace. There are hundreds of shopping comparison sites and over the past ten years, some gained traffic, others lost traffic. Some exited the market, others entered. This kind of dynamic competition is undeniable. Online advertising is evolving rapidly, with companies like Facebook, Pinterest, and many others re-inventing what it means to connect merchants with consumers.

There is simply no meaningful correlation between the evolution of our search services and the performance of price comparison sites. Meanwhile, over those same ten years, a rapidly increasing amount of traffic flowed from our search pages to popular sites like Amazon and eBay as they expanded in Europe, hardly a sign of our “favouring” our own ads.

The Commission’s revised filing suggests we shouldn’t use specialized algorithms to highlight what we consider to be the most relevant merchants’ ads for our users, but should instead highlight ads from price comparison sites. But we get feedback from our users every time they use our services and their clicks tell us that this just isn’t how they want to shop. Forcing us to direct more clicks to price comparison aggregators would just subsidize sites that have become less useful for consumers.

Ultimately, we can’t agree with a case that lacks evidence and would limit our ability to serve our users, just to satisfy the interests of a small number of websites.  But we remain committed to working with the Commission in hopes of resolving the issues raised, and we look forward to continuing our discussions.

Today we have also filed our response to the Commission’s concerns about our advertising service AdSense for Search, and in the days to come we will respond to the Statement of Objections about our Android operating system. These cases involve different claims and different substantive questions, but similarly cite just a few complaints to justify broad legal claims.

We’re confident these cases will ultimately be decided based on the facts and that this analysis will show our product innovations have benefited consumers and merchants, and expanded competition. The surest signs of dynamic competition in any market are low prices, abundant choices, and constant innovation — and that’s a great description of shopping on the internet today.


Project Sunroof New Data Explorer Tool

Category: Google | Nov 3, 2016

Google has always been a proponent of  clean energy, and solar power has been a central part of our vision. Over the past year, Project Sunroof has been helping homeowners explore whether they should go solar – offering solar estimates for over 43 million houses across 42 states. Solar installations today are growing rapidly, but there remains tremendous untapped potential as only a half a percent of US electricity comes from solar power.

Today we’re excited to be taking Project Sunroof a step further by launching a new data explorer tool to enable solar estimates for entire communities, in addition to individual homes, by leveraging 3D rooftop geometry from Google Earth to estimate the solar potential for millions of rooftops in America.  The tool helps communities, cities and municipalities easily visualize how many rooftops are suitable to install solar, how much power they could collectively generate, as well as how much carbon could be displaced by deploying rooftop solar at scale. Sunroof’s solar potential reports can also be easily shared amongst community members, researchers and policymakers directly from the the tool itself. Anyone can use this tool for free, by simply entering in a state, county, city, or zip code to receive a custom analysis.

Sunroof Image 1

Sunroof Image 2

Rooftop solar is a viable option for many cities today. Sunroof’s data explorer found that in more than 90% of communities that the tool covers within 42 states nationwide, well over half the rooftops are viable for solar. Today, cities like Denver and organizations like League of Cities see great value in using the data explorer tool to evaluate whether solar can drive economic savings and growth, as well as help transition energy consumption to lower carbon sources for their communities. Here’s what they have to say;

Cooper Martin, Program Director of the Sustainable Cities Institute,  League of Cities

“Our Sustainable Cities Institute program aims to provide guidance and information for governments that want to pursue sustainability and ensuring that solar is easy, fast and cheap to install. Sunroof’s Data Explorer tool can help inform city stakeholders about the opportunity of solar energy, and the work that is needed to support solar-friendly policies. ”

Sunroof Image 4

Thomas J. Herrod, Climate and Policy analyst, City of Denver

“As a City with a bold and ambitious goal of reducing 80% of Greenhouse Gas emissions by the year 2050,  Project Sunroof data is a key tool in our arsenal of potential strategies.  Rooftop solar is already a viable option within Denver, but this tool helps us refine our efforts to ensure equity in our outreach, efficiency in our efforts, and measurement in our management resources.  Of equal importance is the ability to identify where rooftop solar may not be an option – helping us identify areas where other renewable energy programs offered by our Utility can fill the gap.  We are thrilled to be able to utilize Project Sunroof in our Climate mitigation efforts and help inform our community about the bountiful resource that renewable energy can provide.”

Mark Trout, CIO, Vivint

“In previous analysis we’ve done, comparing Project Sunroof data estimates to actual systems performing in the field, we’ve found Google’s information to be a highly accurate source for predicting the solar performance of a rooftop system. At Vivint Solar we are constantly focusing on how to better delight our customers and advance the solar industry through leading innovation. Project Sunroof is a prime example how how technology can improve the consumer experience and accelerate solar deployment here in the US.”

The release of the data explorer tool marks another milestone across the Project Sunroof initiative where the use of Google’s high quality information has the potential to accelerate the growth of solar by capturing the public imagination, and helping communities make smarter decisions in their transition to cleaner power sources.


Ballot Propositions Matter to Voters

Category: Google | Nov 2, 2016

While much of the news is focused on the presidential race, on November 8 there will be 165 propositions on the ballot that could impact over 205 million Americans in 35 states.1

When it comes to learning more about their state’s referenda in the final days of the Election, voters are increasingly turning online. That’s why we have [launched features in Google Search] to help voters learn who and what propositions are on their ballot. And people are searching!

Seventy-five percent of all searches on ballot propositions happen the month before Election Day.2 One out of five voters continue to research their on their phones as they enter the voting booth.3

Digital tools continue to have an impact on voter awareness around ballot measures and new research confirms it.

New research from comScore, in conjunction with Google and the digital campaigns of statewide ballot initiatives, shows how voters exposed to digital advertising react differently to those who were not shown the same content. For voters who saw the display and video advertising, awareness of the ballot proposition increased by 27 percentage points. Furthermore, intent to vote increase by 14 points.4

For voters who saw the display and video advertising, awareness of the ballot proposition increased by 27 percentage points.

ComScore Ad Effectiveness Suite

With just one week to go, reaching voters effectively has never been more important. Digital tools offer campaigns a huge opportunity to educate voters and effectively increase awareness and intent to vote. Learn more about how campaigns are reaching voters online through digital advertising here or see Google’s GOTV toolkit here.

Want to make sure your users know what propositions are on their ballot? We have a new, embeddable ballot information and polling place lookup tool for organizations of any shape and size. All you need to do is copy and paste and you’re ready to go! More information here.

1 Ballotpedia
Google Internal Data
Google Consumer Surveys
ComScore Ad Effectiveness Suite


Find your own Finland

Category: Google | Nov 2, 2016

Editor’s note: Since reforming its education system 40 years ago, Finland has earned the reputation of an innovator in education. We see Finland’s progress as an opportunity to learn about the issues that impact the educational discipline. Only by understanding these issues can we strive to ensure the value of our efforts for teachers and learners. We commissioned research on the Finnish teaching profession by Kantar Public, an independent social research agency, as part of these efforts. This guest post is a response to that research by Michael Fullan, former dean of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto. Michael advises policymakers and local leaders around the world on how to improve their education systems to benefit all students.

Policymakers and education leaders often look to high-achieving educational systems, like those in Finland, Canada and South Korea, for insight. They ask how foreign approaches to teaching and learning might translate into better results at home. I’ve found that most outside observers fail to grasp the most valuable lessons. Strict standards, mandatory Master’s degrees and professional development programs don’t necessarily lead to success. Culture does.

A recent study by Google and Kantar Public explored teacher status in Finland, and what we might learn from their example. The research underscores the importance of culture in establishing teaching as a respected and attractive profession. The Finnish educational system is built upon a culture of autonomy and trust. Teachers have the freedom to choose how they teach, which fosters creativity, collaboration and ownership.

You can’t borrow Finland’s culture, nor anyone else’s. You have to create your own. If you want to improve educational outcomes at a national level, you can’t simply mandate that teachers be respected by society. Cultural change doesn’t come from the top down — but from the bottom up, the middle out, and all around. For most countries, that means flipping the long-held strategy.

I think about culture in terms of “collaborative professionalism” — a commitment from professionals at all levels of the education system to work together and share knowledge, skills and experience to improve student achievement and well-being. Collaborative professionalism involves transforming culture by continuously lifting everyone involved in the ecosystem. When you’re both teaching and learning, nurturing and being nurtured, giving and receiving help, the whole system gets better.

Cultures rooted in collaborative professionalism share common traits, including autonomy and co-learning, as in the diagram below. The elements interact, feed on each other and self-correct. They operate like a flywheel— accelerating once on the move. 

[edu] fullan

In cultures that embrace this framework, teachers seek ideas, sort them out individually and together, and press for precision in terms of what works best for a given student. They aren’t working to please the accountability system. Instead, they’re committed to success for its own sake — and they seek to understand the causes of success rather than just the outcomes. This is the evidence we find in Finland.

In the Finnish system, teachers and principals work together to improve learning. Every municipality and school has the freedom to adapt the national guidelines for their local context, and teachers decide on their class curriculum. Educational quality is determined and monitored by the schools themselves, and driven by students’ needs rather than national standards.

I’ve also seen this kind of collaborative professionalism at work in Canada. Schools and districts are engaging their staff as change leaders — and encouraging teachers to participate as learners. Ontario, for example, increased its high school graduation rate from 68 percent to 85 percent by working closely with districts and its 900 secondary schools.

Most countries have cultural instances of collaborative professionalism that may not be entirely obvious. In many cases, these educators have been working under the radar because of misguided policies that focus on testing and evaluation. These leaders can be liberated if the focus shifts from policing standards to involving everyone in the educational system as partners in collaborative professionalism. I challenge educators and policy-makers to find their own Finland by building culture and improving together.

You can learn more about this topic in Professional Capital, a book by Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan, and through the Professional Capital Online Survey, a new tool for teachers and principals based on the book.

This article is part of our ongoing effort to explore the issues impacting education and share our learnings along the way, which you can find at