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The Mindanao State University Buug Campus is located at Buug, Zamboanga Sibugay under the supervison of their chancellor Sultan Taha G. Sarip. The Buug Campus is one of the many MSU campuses in the Mindanao island. During the Google Educator Group (GEG) Leaders Summit for the Asia and the Pacific, the organizers said that GEG leaders can nominate other champion teachers to start their own GEGs. Upon learning this, I thought of suggesting the program to Paul Bokingkito, a faculty member of MSU Buug. I got acquainted with Paul when he was my student at the graduate school last year.

After the selection process, Paul got accepted as a GEG leader in Buug and started to form his core group. He invited me as their workshop trainer last December 8, 2014 during the GEG Buug Inaugural Meetup. Since it was a whole day training, I asked my GEG Iligan co-leader Jun Karren Caparoso to help me out in the delivery of the lessons. On December 7, 2014, Jun and I travelled for six hours to Buug.

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The GEG Buug inaugural meetup was a workshop in the use of Google Apps in the classroom. About 35 educators attended the meetup and it was held at the MSU Buug Digital Library, Charles Henry Ryde Building. The digital library is a combination of a computer laboratory and a library. It was donated by Bae Labi Sonita Manlin Mande-Ryde, a Subanen princess.

This trip is very memorable for me as this is my first time to teach Google apps in a different campus and outside Iligan city. I have gathered here the lessons I have learned during the workshop and the inaugural meetup.

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1. Hybrid of BYOD and computers in the laboratory. MSU Buug’s digital library can only accommodate 15-20 students in their computer laboratory and so they requested other participants to go B.Y.O.D. (Bring Your Own Device) for the workshop. Since the library was very spacious, both groups were placed in one large hall.

2. Logos on cardboards. GEG Buug organizers were very creative in printing large logos of Google apps and placed them on cardboards and attached a handle so you can hold the logos like a lollipop. The cardboards were used at the photobooth but we thought of using the logos ourselves when we discussed the different Google apps. We are mostly visual learners so it was good move to use the logos for the participants to easily recall the apps.

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3. Varying digital literacy skills. When you have heterogenous group in a computer-related workshop, you have to take into account the fact that you will have participants on varying levels of digital literacy. Some teachers have not created a Gmail account yet while some have an email address but they forgot their passwords. Generally, the participants know how to navigate through Google’s interface. We just had to give extra attention to those who are not familiar with the apps.

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4. Connectivity issues. In order to appreciate the functions of Google apps, a good Internet connection is required as most of the products are dependent on the cloud. In our experience during the training, the Internet connection was strong at the start of the workshop but it became spotty in the later part. It’s a good thing that Jun brought his mobile Wifi gadget so we were able to move on with the activities. While there has been a considerable amount of improvement of the Internet connection in the Philippines, it is still a challenge every time we conduct online seminars. We just have to come prepared with a back-up and sometimes even another back-up for the back-up. If worse comes to worst, we just have to bring out our creative side on how to explain the applications offline.

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5. Hold an open forum. The participants had many questions regarding the operations of a GEG in their teaching community. So, I showed a 15-minute presentation on an introduction to GEGs. Then, I allocated about 45 minutes for the participants to ask questions about the inaugural meetup, the contents of training and what GEGs are and what GEGs are not. It was a good opportunity to set each other’s expectations and minimize confusion among the members.

All in all, the inaugural meetup was a good start for Paul and his core group in Buug. Generally, the participants in Buug were very smart. I appreciated their questions and their manner of questioning. The art of questioning is deeply ingrained in their culture. Whenever, they will present a question, they will introduce themselves and which school or department they are connected with. Then, ask straightforward questions. These days, some students and even teachers don’t know how to formulate their questions. I am glad that the participants from Buug were able to preserve that.

In January, we will be supporting another inaugural meetup in MSU Naawan, Misamis Oriental. Their GEG leader Yam is already cooking-up something for the participants and for the guests too.

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