Franklin to Host Google Summit
Writer / Frieda Dowler . Photographer / Jim Eichelman
Google chose Franklin, Indiana, as one of fifty-three global sites for their Google Apps for Education summit. On April 11 and 12, Franklin Community High School will welcome the Ed Tech Team and up to 800 attendees for a weekend learning experience. Google Corporation holds these events for educators to learn how to include Google apps in the classroom experience.
Who knew the perceptions of an energetic, self-proclaimed geek, would lead to the city of Franklin hosting an international summit. The phrase, “A prophet is not accepted in his hometown,” describes the insightfulness of a common person. It may be true of Matt Sprout, director of technology for Franklin Community School Corporation. Franklin seemed an unlikely choice, but Matt’s declaration was, “Why not Franklin?”
Matt convinced Google that Franklin Community High School’s (FCHS) facility and surrounding areas of Indianapolis, Greenwood, and Brown County offered plenty. He says they were chosen because of “out of the box thinking.” He disregarded the traditional application questionnaire form and submitted in paragraph style, describing the benefits of having a summit in an area that includes a lot of variety. Apparently that made Franklin stand out to a corporation who leads in thinking outside the box.
Franklin Redevelopment Corporation purchased Google Chromebooks for every high school student to use beginning in the 2014 school year. The learning devices chosen had to be durable, priced right, look good and have an attached keyboard. However, the key decision making factor was whether there would be additional costs to the school corporation. Google’s policy to not charge the school for the use of their apps or allow advertising to students made the decision easy.
This positioned FCHS students for success with the millennial shift in the way we gather, process and share information. Nevertheless, the teachers needed to know how to implement the latest technology. Matt and other colleagues attended Chicago’s summit last year to learn these methods. The enthusiasm from the Google team was contagious and the school year began using this technology.
Students now have access to a sea of knowledge and information through the internet. Some is not so good. A part of using this type of technology in the classroom includes filters. Access to certain information is not available to students with their Chromebooks. The idea is to use technology to assist students in learning.
The teachers needed a paradigm shift to keep up with this new style of learning. They moved from “Did I teach the material?” to “Did the students learn?” Access to students via the devices allows teachers to know whether students are “getting it.” For example, one of the courses taught at FCHS is American Sign Language. Assigning homework to assess progress was difficult because it’s visual rather than verbal or written. With new technology, the instructor assigns a simple book for the students to sign at home. They video themselves, upload to YouTube (a Google app), submit as homework, allowing the teacher to download and know whether they are learning – the subject as well as the technology.
The students carry their Chromebooks wherever they go and can access classroom notes, group projects, or contribute and send homework to teachers anywhere there is wireless internet service. If service is not available to students, they can save and send when they get to school where wireless internet is available.
Devices also break down. Matt set up a program for repairing the devices with students who express an interest in learning this side of technology. Known as the Chromebook Care Center, the students who operate it can earn a valuable certification upon graduation.
It seems like change has come over night but in reality, satellites and communication technologies began in the middle of the last century. Commercialization of the web and the dot com boom expanded rapidly in the early 2000’s. Not many pioneers of this era remain. Google survived their humble beginnings in a dorm room and garage. Now with 70 locations in 40 countries, the Googleplex in Mountain View, California, is headquarters.
We have experienced a revolution in the way information is gathered, processed, stored and communicated. As these fields expand, it leads to changes in education as students prepare for future jobs. Google’s Ed Tech Teams want to improve the world’s education systems using the best learning principles and technology. The summit in Franklin makes this a great opportunity for educators in this area.
You can learn more about the summits goals and all the global locations at Gafesummit.com.