Google’s geographic programs have the potential to expand students’ knowledge of the planet and the stories of its many peoples, a presenter told educators at workshop on the University of Montana campus Wednesday.
“Why aren’t these things used in the classroom more often?” asked Tina Ornduff, who leads Google Earth Education Outreach efforts for Google.
The company is presenting the Montana Google Geo Teachers Institute on Wednesday and Thursday to showcase its products in an effort to bring geographic information and technology into the classroom. The programs include Google Earth, Google Mapping Tools, Google Maps Engine Lite and Fusion Tables.
In addition to Ornduff, presenters include educators who went to work for Google such as Dean Phillips and Jeff Crews, co-founders of BeyondtheChalk LLP, which helps teachers use technology in their practice.
Seventy-six teachers from across Montana and the United States, and as far away as Brazil, Singapore and Indonesia, are attending the workshop.
Heather Dunn and Rob Reynolds, both employees of Eureka Public Schools, were enthusiastic about what the workshop had to offer.
Dunn teaches sixth grade and saw advantages to using the mapping technology demonstrated by Google’s representatives, in terms of both classroom work and student enrichment.
“This conference is a great way to learn about more tools and tips,” Dunn said. “The tools that they demonstrated to us have real potential in classrooms.
“My students rarely set foot out of Eureka, so I could use Google Maps to expand their horizons. We open the world to our students with this technology.“
Reynolds, a technology learning coordinator who implemented a robotics program in Eureka, plans to use what he learns at the conference to better assist faculty and students with their work.
Reynolds had learned about several presenters before the workshop on the Internet, and was interested in attending in part to meet them in person.
“I knew these people from online – It was nice to see them in person,” he said.
Clancy D. Crismore is a University of Montana journalism student and an intern at the Missoulian.