Friday, August 10, 2012

Google Apps EDU goes Rocky Mountain!

There’s something about that Rocky Mountain skyline that can’t help but inspire, and when 250 educators arrived on a balmy Thursday morning to the Boulder Marriott for the Google Apps EDU Rocky Mountain Summit, they certainly did not disappoint!

Ever-awesome committee member Molly Schroeder helps check in scores of excited educators to the Summit.

Attendees were teachers, educators, administrators, professional developers, and technical staff. All came and packed the house for our opening keynote, Allyson McDuffie, from the Google geo team right there in Boulder. Her keynote inspired in the ways geographic education is changing with technology, and flew us right into a great kickstart to the conference. The next morning, fellow Googler Tina Ornduff shared her wisdom from the Google Geo Teachers Institute and geo tools she works with and sent a similarly inspiring message out to the crowd.

Our two keynotes (and family!) smile for the camera.

There was plenty of networking time throughout the two days, and it was so nice to walk around and hear conversations about the issues, initiatives, ideas, and passions amongst educators from around the region and beyond. Nexus 7 tablets were being explored, there was a lab of Chromebooks that educators got to play with during sessions, and partnerships and collaborations were brewing right alongside the morning coffee. The hallway was full of the event’s sponsors, including Wikispaces, Schoology, Haiku LMS, Cloudlock, and Jordan Pedraza from the Google Apps EDU team, all ready to share how their products worked with Google Apps for Education and answer questions from folks.

Attendees show off how “Googley” they are at the Summit Photo Booth.

Sessions ranged from getting started to getting geeky, and popping in and out of each packed house it was exciting to see some of the ideas being generated - from Mark Wagner’s search contest to giveaway Search Education’s helpful “Google a Day” books to to Allison Mollica sharing some global applications of Google Sites, it was tough to choose which session to go to each hour. The conference ended with a special tour for several attendees, a cornerstone of many of the Google Apps EDU Summits, of the very unique Google Boulder office just down the street! A handful of attendees got to view the Googley culture that only few get to see-- a rockwall and ping-pong table made for engineers to "work out a problem," a VW van in the middle of the office if you need to get some solitude, and plenty of unique and collaborative work spaces sprinkled throughout.

Personal learning networks were alight with #gafesummit’s hashtag and Google + Hangout Demo’s, and it was exciting to add these folks to each other's PLN's. At the end of the sold-out event, it was sad to see so many passionate educators go, but we knew they were off to begin their school years and put into place so many of the groundbreaking ideas they’d discussed for the past two days, and we look forward to following them online and see them next year to share their stories of success!


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