Is Google Certification Different then MacDonald’s Certification

A google certified teacher is one who has been to, and presumably passed, the Google Teacher Academy.  “The Google Teacher Academy is a FREE professional development experience designed to help primary and secondary educators from around the globe get the most from innovative technologies. Each Academy is an intensive, one-day event where participants get hands-on experience with Google’s free products and other technologies, learn about innovative instructional strategies, receive resources to share with colleagues, and immerse themselves in an innovative corporate environment. Upon completion, Academy participants become Google Certified Teachers who share what they learn with other primary and secondary educators in their local region. (http://www.google.com/educators/gta.html)”  This description has raised several thoughts and questions:

1) Why would Google offer such a free workshop?  Premise 1) A company (especially public companies) attempts to maximize profits.  Premise 2) A public company, Google, is offering a free course.  Conclusion: by offering a free course, Google is trying to maximize its profit.  While true of all education companies (or tech companies trying to promote educational services), we must keep in might that Google’s motivation is primarily about profit.  As much as we might wish to hold them in higher esteem, they are essentially MacDonald’s promoting their product through an alliance with teachers.  We must be careful because their motives and biases might not match our own.

2) The language “immerse themselves in an innovative corporate environment,” is a little troubling.  This doesn’t sound synonymous with education to me.  I don’t feel comfortable with equating an educational environment, even an innovative one, with a corporate environment.  This might just highlight my misgivings of the corporate motive as they branch out into education–not just tools but also our pedagogy.  Given that their primary ethic is profit, how rigorous is their testing of the long term benefits of their products to our student’s educational and other needs?

3) At the academy teachers get “hands-on experience with Google’s free products.”  To my knowledge, none of Google’s services are free.  You might not pay money, but you pay with information.  You trade: using their services, with becoming their product.  Then, they sell that information to advertisers and the like.  I am always hesitant to deliver my students to advertisers as they pursue our learning goals.  I worry that being immersed in a corporate environment might diminish my caution on my student’s (minors in my care) behalf. 

4) While Google services are undeniably useful, I would be happier with a more independent approach to using their products.  Educators must think long and hard about a partnership with Google or any company.  We must ask not just what will these products do, but also, what will they undo (McLuhan).  We must investigate the company’s motives, and we must look at the cost, giving it even more weight then the gain, to ensure that we protect the students in our care. 

I guess I’d like to see Google, Microsoft, Apple viewed with the same suspicion we’d view MacDonalds if they were to start educating our health teachers.  Just because these companies have good technology, doesn’t mean they are good, have good intentions, or even a good pedagogical knowledge with which they base their instruction to teachers on. 

If I said I was MacDonald’s certified teacher, would that mean that you’d want me to teach your children health?  Why is Google certification seen as a qualification for teachers?

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