California Google Summit – Resources and Reflections

Reposted with permission from blog.texthelp.com

California Google Summit logo

Earlier this month the EdTech Team held their third annual California Google Summit in Palo Alto, CA. The California Summit is the flagship summit of the EdTech Team’s global tour and is a top notch experience. This year I had the opportunity to both participate and present at the Summit and wanted to share a few of the takeaways (and resources) with those who couldn’t attend, or at least couldn’t make it to every session.

To kick things off, Mark Wagner did a great job of getting everyone excited and introducing the keynote speaker – Claire Hughes Johnson, Vice President at Google [X] who leads the product, business and operations teams for Self-Driving Cars (cool job, huh?). She shared some of the great things Google is doing and an update on how the driverless car is coming along. Here’s a link to one of the videos she shared that shows a car in use with individuals outside of Google for the first time:




From there participants were off to the over 140 sessions offered on day one alone. A link to the sessions, in addition to resources for each, can be found on the session detail page here: http://ca.gafesummit.com/2014/sessions.

One of the first sessions of the day was put on by Martin McKay, CTO at Texthelp, where he announced the availability of a new literacy application for emerging and struggling readers. Fluency Tutor™ for Google is a levelled reading and assessment tool designed for the Google Apps for Education environment and was revealed to a packed room of educators who were eager to give the new application a try. The session was also part of a Hangout on Air so you can view it at any time by clicking here or watching it below:


To learn more about Fluency Tutor™ for Google visit www.texthelp.com/FluencyTutor and install for free. Many features of the program remain free forever, while some of the assessment tools are considered premium and available free for 30 days.

Finally, day one ended with a demo slam where presenters had three minutes to show off some of the coolest Google related tips, tricks, and ideas they could come up with for use in education. No pressure!




Day two started with an excellent keynote by Dan Russell, who must have one of the coolest titles at Google. He is the “Über Tech Lead for Search Quality and User Happiness” in Mountain View. After listening to him talk, I quickly began to realise that I didn’t know half as much about searching for information as I thought I did. If you have never heard Dr. Russell speak, I recommend checking out his Ted Talk below:




Following Dr. Russell’s keynote, I had the opportunity to present a session on Chrome Supports for Struggling Learners. Here I discussed with participants (and demonstrated) some of the many supports available for struggling learners using Google Apps for Education. If you were at the conference and didn’t get a chance to make the session, or are just interested in learning more I am doing a similar free webinar July 30th at 2pm Eastern/11 Pacific. Details and registration are here: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/698949265.

I will also be repeating this session on August 27th at 3pm Eastern. The link to register for the August webinar is: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/521795352.

Finally, the day wrapped up with a closing keynote by Evan Rapoport, Product Manager for Google Maps. He shared the many cool things that are going on with Google Maps in addition to great ideas on how to integrate into education. He also shared Google Views (https://www.google.com/maps/views/), which provide astounding 360 degree panoramas of some of the most amazing places on Earth. I was blown away by the detail available on places around the world that students may otherwise have only read about in textbooks. It really brings things to life and offers experiences unheard of only a few years ago.

Picture of Chromebook winner and her colleagues
Chromebook Winner!

Last but not least… Prizes! The conference ended with prizes for several lucky people who stuck around for the closing keynote. One of those prizes was a new Chromebook from Texthelp, which was awarded to Catherine Hickinbotham from Campbell Christian School in Campbell CA (see image).

Did you attend the conference? I would love to hear your takeaways in the comments section below.

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About Jason Carroll

Jason first learned of Assistive Technology while working on his undergraduate degree where much of his spare time was spent assisting a regional education centre with basic technology needs. Amazed at how this technology could benefit so many students (particularly those he grew up with) he was hooked and immediately became an expert at the centre. After receiving his Masters, Jason returned to the coop to serve as a full time Assistive Technology Consultant serving over 200 schools in the central Kentucky Region.

Since this time, Jason has trained thousands on Assistive Technology and Universal Design for Learning concepts throughout the United States and beyond. His focus is on integrating research based practices into the work he does and helping others ensure that what they are doing works. He specialises in assisting people to bridge the gap between operation of technology and actual implementation. Jason is a published author, has taught Instructional Technology and Universal Design for Learning at the University level, and spends a significant amount of time on e-Learning and blended learning initiatives. He is a graduate of the Assistive Technology Applications Certificate Program (ATACP) from California State University at Northridge and holds a Masters in Business Administration.

Currently Jason serves as Product Marketing Manager for North America at Texthelp Inc. where he oversees new product launches and speaks nationally on a variety of Assistive Technology topics.

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