9/21/2018 – Google helps community with technology skills

Posted on: September 21st, 2018 by admin

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September 21, 2018

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By Virginia Annable
vannable@newstopicnews.com
Torie Hicks held a cardboard box close to her face as she turned her head around. Around her, crowds of people talked to Google employees, stood hunched over computers and ogled the transformation of the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center into a high-tech showroom.
But inside Hicks’ virtual reality headset, made of cardboard but powered by a smartphone, Hicks saw a whole other world.
More than 200 people — teachers, business people, local officials and everyday job seekers — went to the civic center Thursday for Lenoir’s first Grow with Google event, similar to Googlefest in years past, where people could learn how to use Google products and gain new digital skills.
Hicks, a media teacher in Caldwell County, said she would use the technology she learned about Thursday in her classroom.
“I’m getting more resources to use with the kids,” Hicks said. “I use Google Classroom (a free web service to simplify creating, distributing and grading assignments) already, but I’d like to use even more technology.”
One of the four workshops Google held, inspiring students using technology, was perfectly aimed for Hicks’ goals, which is what got her excited about the event to begin with, but it was not the only thing she did that day.
Apart from workshops, the main event space was filled with various things for people to do. A booth with two Google employees, or Googlers, in grey sweatshirts and several laptops welcomed small business owners to make themselves easier to find on Google Maps. On the other side of that booth, enthusiastic Googlers greeted job seekers to teach them how to use Google’s job search engine. Yet another booth, manned by Googlers in orange-and-grey shirts, showed people Google’s applied digital skills tools online, which teach people how to make a budget, negotiate a salary or how to use digital tools in the workplace.
Josh Blackburn, also a teacher in Caldwell County, said the applied-digital-skills-tool booth was his favorite because it taught skills he can take back to his students.
“Digital skills are a life skill now, like reading or writing. People are going to use it no matter where they work or what field they go into,” Blackburn said.
Everyone’s willingness to learn those skills was the favorite part for Lilyn Hester, the head of Google’s external affairs in the Southeast. She said the event was a testament to Caldwell County’s willingness to grow.
“It says a lot for Caldwell County and the surrounding areas to really come out and be willing to learn,” Hester said.
To put on the event, Google partnered with local organizations including the Caldwell County Public Library, the Caldwell Chamber of Commerce, Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, and Communities in Schools, all of whom were at the event to lend professional advice where they could.
Throughout the day, people filed in and out of the civic center, talking to one another, sharing their experiences, interests and goals, and learning new skills.
“It’s great to see people bump into each other and share ideas and collaborate,” Hester said.

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