Learning from Google

Google Post-it Installation

What can we learn from innovative organizations like Google? How might we adopt some of their cultural markers to inspire students? When we knew ASIJ would be the host venue for the first Tokyo Google Apps for Education Summit I wondered how we might use it as an opportunity to touch students and not just host a PD event for faculty.

What I envisioned was a week of ’20 percent time’ projects, cross divisional student activities and workshops, Scratch writing Slams & Play-offs, Dance Parties and maybe even a filming session for a Lipdub project that was underway. Needless to say thinking big doesn’t always mean you get to act big. Disruption is not always warmly welcomed, right? 🙂

While the scale of those ideas were not realized this time around, as I reflect post the Google Summit, the goal of getting students involved was achieved and the event did have an impact on some of our students.

The transformation of the high school lobby and library space into a Google style environment, intended to inspire idea sharing and collaboration, did create a buzz with students leading up to the event.

photo 3


Google colors

In the lead up to the event a group of students were a key part of a collaborative video project designed to give Google a decidedly Japanese flavor. They crafted the logo out of nori rolls and sushi – then ate it! Creative and delicious.


Google Sushi

Our middle school art teachers launched a ‘Google doodle’ extravaganza which resulted in hundreds of colorful logo designs being displayed around school.

Google doodles

A project that engaged many of the ASIJ Student Envoys during the event was the Google Post-It installation. Attendees were invited to help create a giant Google logo with Post-It messages about the conference under the direction of student helpers. They photographed each stage which we then turned into a stop-motion animation for screening on the Sunday afternoon. It was a fun, creative and collaborative effort by everyone. Grade 11 student, Kyoko emailed me about the experience; “It turned out beautiful! Thank you for integrating my moving arrow in the end of the video! I had a very inspiring day today!” I loved what she did – she had embraced the challenge to inject her own ideas into an open-ended project.

Maybe that’s it! Time for creativity, and challenges and opportunities to collaborate.