District can take pride in hosting Google event

Franklin has put itself on a virtual U.S. map as the school district hosts this weekend’s Google conference.

Nearly 500 educators from around the country will be here today and Sunday to learn how to better utilize Web-based resources and technological tools in the classroom. Four teachers and administrators from Johnson County will lead sessions at the conference, on topics such as using Google Chrome for teachers and how to edit papers through a program called Google Classroom. Nearly 100 sessions are planned.

So on behalf of all of Johnson County, we say, “Welcome Google educators.”

School personnel have been preparing to host the conference since they learned last year that Franklin was picked to be one of about 70 summit sites across the country. That has meant testing the high school’s Internet capabilities, getting about 20 rooms ready for sessions, finding and training volunteers to give directions or information about the school and making room for a race car to be displayed.

Google officials originally estimated about 200 to 250 people would participate this weekend, but about 450 people registered. That allowed 43 Franklin staff members to attend the conference for free. When it applied to host the conference, the school said it could hold up to 800 over the weekend.

Since Franklin was picked, officials on Google’s education team have talked to technology director Matt Sprout at least once a month. Starting in January, the calls increased to once a week, he said.

When he applied for Franklin to host this event, Sprout provided a list of activities, monuments or landmarks and restaurants in the area that visitors could do or see while in town. Once Franklin was picked to host, school officials worked with the Franklin Chamber of Commerce and Aspire Johnson County so any questions could be answered about local restaurants, bed and breakfasts, malls and entertainment spots in the county.

“We knew there would be a lot of visitors coming into the area, so we’re helping promote Johnson County,” Aspire Johnson County director of business development Dana Monson said. “This is a really unique opportunity for Franklin and Johnson County. We want them (visitors) to know how great it is.”

Google’s team has been on top of any snags, Sprout said. For example, if too many people try to use the same Wi-Fi port at once, the Internet could short out or become slow. So Google told Sprout to spread out the conference sessions. So sessions are scheduled in 15 classrooms, and the conference will use every wing of the high school to make sure everyone has access to the Internet.

Hosting such a prestigious event obviously is a big feather in Franklin’s cap. It’s a testament to the skills of district personnel and the facilities available plus the accommodations and attractions nearby.

But Google already has given Franklin an equally strong compliment. Superintendent David Clendening said the district already has been asked if it would be willing to host a conference again.

At issue

It takes a herculean effort to put on a conference for nearly 500 educators.

Our point

Franklin school district employees not only are ready for this weekend’s Google conference, they’ve already been asked if they’d be interested in hosting another.