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AB Google Summit – Keynote James Saunders

March 3, 2015


Spending Monday and Tuesday in Edmonton at the Expo Centre with 1,000 other folks exploring all things Google Education. This posts and others are my notes from the sessions.

A Resume Full of Failure
Getting to Future Ready

James Saunders

Take Risks

The classroom – James talked a lot about how he got started and the many mistakes he made. He reminded us of the project where micro-loans are made to help other groups. He talked about some of his history, the mistakes that he’s made while working, while teaching, when trying to startup his own companies.

James worked with the kids to build their own news shows, video, etc.

However in the process of all the “cool” things his class was doing, he forgot about working on “the basics”. Simple things like how to move around the classroom with the Chromebooks.

Students were given their own YouTube channels. Sometimes it backfired a bit, but it all ended up as a learning experience.

James encouraged students to publish as much as they could, and if they ever did a search of their name and history project, and it came up as the first link on Google, he would up their mark by 5%. This actually encouraged students to write and publish more.

At one point James was part of the group that built, a curated tool of YouTube videos specifically for teachers.

Later he worked with a team to build the White House Film Festival to explain why technology is important in the classroom. Received thousands of responses.

Why is all of this important?

Ultimately our goal is to help our schools get future ready, and this happens in part by trying new things, and sometimes failing, but always learning from our failures. While there may not be a magical tool, strategy, or silver bullet that will solve all of our issues. But, how can we design classrooms where students will learn to tackle big problems, and even when they fail, learning continues as they find themselves.

Stories of Failure

James uses this little site to collect stories of fails to help and encourage others. If you have a fail you’d like to share, go to

Austin Kleon – artist that inspired James
He suggests that you start small, and over time it will add up.

James’ Next Risk

Future Ready Schools

Partnered with the White House, and 25% of US schools have signed the pledge. Some aspects include Courageous Leadership, Empowered Teachers, Infrastructure. Another key is no standardized tests.

James’ Challenge – go back to work, and make more dung. Keep trying, keep doing something different, something new.

Summary thoughts from Todd: the keynote this morning is really all about not worrying about failing, but keep trying. Get involved, do different things, make a difference in your classroom and in everything that you try. You will fail, and fail lots. Kids will make mistakes, crazy things will happen, but learning continues, and who knows when one failure may be the factor that is the “next big thing” that solves a major problem.



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