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Teachers introduced to new technology at 'Cloud Fest'





The College of Education and Technology at Fort Hays State University, along with a team of Leadership 310 students also known as "GOOPLERS (generate operational, opportunities for, people through, leadership, and education, relying on social media)" hosted the first Wild West Cloud Fest on Monday.

The university hosted more than 300 educators from across Kansas and explained the importance of Google Applications in relation to the implementation of the Common Core State Standards.

The standards show the academic benchmarks intended to define the knowledge and skills high school graduates need in order to be successful in college and careers.

Michael Graham, Google Apps for education certified trainer and assistant principal of Westside High School in Arkansas, was the keynote speaker.

"We want our students to create, collaborate and share what they've learned," Graham said. "You can't just cover the material. You have to discover it, not just read a chapter and know there's a test on Friday."

Graham advocated for the use of Google apps in the classroom and said his school will be saving $10,000 each year by moving away from Microsoft products.

Suzie Becking, assistant professor of advanced educational programs and adviser to the leadership team, said Google apps can do 80 percent of what is expected of Microsoft products.

In order to adjust a school's curriculum to the Common Core Standards, Graham said Microsoft will be unable to adjust smoothly.

The Anchor Standards Writing states: Students must use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

"You can not use (Microsoft) to produce and publish writing in collaboration and interaction with others," Graham said. "This is one of the standards, and you can't meet this using only Microsoft products."

Google docs allows for collaboration with other students as well as teachers, Graham said.

"I want my students to be active collaborators and contribute to the knowledge of the subject," Graham said. "Students can make a real impact and share it with the world."

Google apps also is useful in facilitating online learning, as Arkansas recently passed a law stating all high school students must take one online class before graduating.

"FHSU is one of the world leaders in online education," Graham said. "This will give students the opportunity to find their own paths in an online learning environment."

Spencer Vaughn, a junior at Westside High School, said Google apps are changing his learning environment.

"Google apps have severely improved education around here," he said. "Google allows me to directly communicate with my teachers to help with papers or answer questions."

Google docs allows for collaboration, so all parties can see while one member edits the document.

For other purposes, Graham said a Google search can be used to compute complicated trigonometry equations or discover the "degrees of Kevin Bacon."

Google is in the process of increasing its gaming community by allowing visitors to play Skeeball, Graham said. "The possibilities are endless," Graham said. "Fifteen years ago, Google was a company in a garage. There's no way to tell by the time these kids are ready to retire."