Two Google in Education summits this week are designed to help hundreds of Nebraska and Iowa teachers better integrate the Internet into their classrooms.
The Glenwood Community School District is hosting the Southwest Iowa Summit on Monday and Tuesday, while the Great Plains Summit at Lincoln Southwest High School takes place Thursday and Friday.
The summits will give teachers and administrators the chance to hear from nationally known education speakers and learn how to use Google Hangout, Google Docs, YouTube and other services.
Devin Embray, Glenwood's superintendent, said the summits are important because they give teachers tools to integrate technology into their teaching. And using the Internet is often the best way to connect with a generation that has never known a world without it.
The goal for the long-term effect of the summits is to help students better use technology to learn more efficiently and at a deeper level, Embray said.
“Students have never before been able to access as much information as they can today,” he said. “Knowing where to find that information and apply that information is what's so important.”
This is the first year for the Google summit in Glenwood, but the second year for the Great Plains summit.
Great Plains already has 500 educators signed up, the maximum number. However, those still interested in attending can email firstname.lastname@example.org to have their names added to a wait list. Registration is $199.
There are still seats available in Glenwood. As of last week, some 300 had registered — about half of the available spots.
“We will definitely take more people,” Embray said.
Those interested in the Glenwood summit can sign up Monday at Glenwood Community High School, 504 E. Sharp St., beginning at 8 a.m., for $125. The classes will be held there. The district is offering the event with the Green Hills Area Education Agency.
In Glenwood, Embray is touting education technology consultant Alan November. In Lincoln, classes will be led by instructors from Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and Washington.
“We've got people coming in from all over who spend a lot of time teaching and training these products,” said Brian Fitzgerald, the Web communications manager for Lincoln Public Schools. “We're very happy that we are full up and we are ready to get going with it.”
Since 2011 there have been at least 43 Google in Education summits worldwide, including in Japan, Australia and Dubai. At least 42 more are planned through early 2014.
The summits are put on by the local school districts, said Shannon Newberry, a spokeswoman for Google. The company will help however it can, but the events are locally driven.
"We just want schools to be able to use technology that works and that is simple for them and they can help students collaborate and learn together,” Newberry said.
“We're just trying to help administrative staff and teachers bring the power of technology and the power of the Web to education.”