About a year ago I was kicking myself for not registering for the first Great Plains Google Summit in Lincoln, Nebraska. When I heard the announcement that the Summit would be back in 2013 and that Chris Lehmann was keynoting I did not hesitate to register.
Before I share my reflection on the Summit I want to give a huge shout-out to the planning team that organized this fabulous event. Everything from the location to the schedule to the reception at Memorial Stadium was simply fantastic.
I want to get my gripes and complaints out of the way first. There were 500 attendees at the Summit and unless I missed someone, there were only five of us from western Nebraska. There are many possible reasons why western Nebraska was not well-represented. Perhaps they just didn’t know about it. I learned about it on Twitter, but never heard one word about it from any other source. Maybe teachers knew, but just did not have the funds, time, or determination to attend PD in the summer. I’d love to see a district step up and offer a bus to transport teachers to the Summit. If we had a bus with wifi that would be even better! (I don’t ask for much, do I?)
My only other complaint was with a small group of attendees during lunch on the first day. One of my coworkers attended the conference with another teachers from western Nebraska who had just had hip surgery less than three weeks before the Summit. She was still using a walker because she could not place all of her weight on her hip. My coworker got two plates and was actually scolded by quite a few teachers! Shame on them for assuming my coworker was just being greedy. I hope they do not judge their students as quickly as they judged her. I could say more, but I will stop before I say something snarky.
There wasn’t much of a need to take notes at this event because every presenter had their presentations linked on the official Google Summit page. I did take a few notes that I might expand on at some point. I agonized over which sessions to go to. I had put together a schedule but I am not known for sticking with plans so of course I deviated from it right away. I really wish I had gone to Chad Kafka’s session on Chrome , but knew I NEEDED to attended Henry Thiele’s session on Dispelling the Myths Surrounding GAFE. I have found myself defending Google Apps for Education a lot lately and Henry gave me tons of ammunition to fire back at Google’s detractors. The main things I learned were:
I attended another session led by Henry Thiele and Mitch Dowhower on Getting and Managing Chromebooks. I have been promoting (pushing???) for Chromebooks in my school for three years. I just found out yesterday that the Chromebooks have arrived and are securely stored at my service unit. Here are the tidbits of knowledge I picked up at this session:
I went to the Google Summit expecting to learn lots of new things, but I was not expecting to be blown out of the water. It is rare when I see something that simply blows my mind. I attended Jim Sill’s session on the Google Art Project and I was completely mesmerized. I was sitting with Barb Gilman and Beth Gross and they were just as blown away! (It is nice to share moments like that with friends!) The Google Art Project is just one of three components of the Google Cultural Institute. The other two projects look just as fascinating. They are Historic Moments and World Wonders. When you have some time please check them out. Or better yet, direct your students to them and have them explore!
Google has partnered with over 200 museums and cultural institutions to catalog over 40,000 priceless works of art from over 40 countries to make them available to everyone in the world. Quite a few of the pieces are available in what is called gigapixel format which means you can zoom in so close you can see the individual brushstrokes. It is unreal! You’d think the resolution would diminish, but it is perfectly clear! And as if that isn’t enough, you can use Google Street View to tour the INSIDE of different galleries from museums and landmarks. Jim had us navigate to the Palace of Versailles and “enter” the same room he was in and examine a painting with him. (It was at this point that I almost fainted from being overcome with the sheer awesomeness of this project.) He was sharing so much knowledge about the particular painting we were viewing that we were convinced he was an art historian until he shared his secret. There is a tab called “details” that contains tons of information.
Needless to say, my experience at the Google Summit was splendid. If you have the chance to attend a Summit I recommend that you go! It is a top notch experience!