Google visits Maine to teach educators | Arts & Culture

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Google visits Maine to teach educators
Google visits Maine to teach educators

LEWISTON, MAINE (NEWS CENTER) -- Google is offering teachers the chance to use some of its technology -- for free. Some educators got a lesson in how to use these new tools at a summit in Lewiston.

The education team from Google hopes to see the standard book reports evolve into something more modern. Former Maine Governor Angus King says "we've got to start doing education differently because what we're doing now isn't working and yet education is the crucial element of the 21st century." 

Governor King's foundation, The Maine International Center for Digital Learning, put on the GEO Education event at the Lewiston campus of University of Southern Maine. He says education is still being done the same way as it always has, and that's got to change.


"What other business looks the same as it did 50 years ago? We've got to figure out a way to use the technology, it's nothing more than a tool, to impart a deeper kind of education particular in education in problem solving, and using information."


Throughout the summit, educators are taught about two specific online tools that Google offers for free -- SketchUp and Google Earth.


Allyson McDuffie is the Google SketchUp Education Program Manager. She says the program is a 3-D modeling application. "It has a very easy entry into learning the application. The reason it's a part of Google is because of all those beautiful real world 3-D buildings that you see in Google Earth almost all of those were modeled in SketchUp"


Tina Ornduff is the Program Manager for the Geo Education Program at Google. She explains it's important to show teachers how they can use these tools in the subjects they're teaching, it's also important to show students their place in the world.


"Understanding the world around you is so important even now. Because of technology the world is a smaller place and now you can go and visit places that are in the news with a tool like Google Earth. You can go and investigate where current events are happening and see that the world isn't that different from the world that we live in."


Margaret Chernosky is a geography teacher at Bangor High School. She's been using these tools for a number of her classes. Last year, her students examined the landscape effects of the Great Bangor Fire of 1911.


"We thought let's dig in and find out who were these people what kind of buildings were really damaged and what were the repercussions of it."


Kern Kelley is a technology teacher in Newport at RSU 19, he says this kind of technology keeps students more engaged.


"If I want to see students have a better understanding of geometry, then what better way than to have them do it through SketchUp. To have them show the angles and planes and that kind of stuff, it's different from doing a two-dimensional drawing in this case doing a 3-D drawing whatever makes sense to use."


The majority of teachers in attendance at the summit teach middle and high school, but the technology is available to all levels of education.


Tina Ornduff explains how the programs are used in the classroom. "There is a teacher here who has created a site called real world math. It takes the old fashion word problem and plots it in Google Earth. Within Google Earth, you can go to the moon and Mars. You can see imagery from both moon and Mars that used to be just available to NASA engineers. You can go underneath the surface of the ocean and view isometric data or the terrain of the ocean floor."


Angus King says that in our modern day mass media society, technology like this is crucial to getting through to students.


"What I've learned is if the students are engaged in the material, if they're interested, you can teach them anything."


 Google offers the basic versions of the applications for free to anyone. The professional versions of both programs usually need to be paid for, but are free to educators. 


For more information on the Maine International Center for Digital Learning: MICDL


For resouces from the summitt: GEO EDUCATION


For more on Google Earth:  GOOGLE EARTH


For more on Google SketchUp: GOOGLE SKETCHUP


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