Venice High selected as a pilot school for Google Hangouts

Andrea Lo, News Editor

Venice has been selected as one of a few LAUSD schools to be a pilot school for Google Hangouts.

Google Hangouts is a communication service that allows teachers and students to communicate via instant messaging and video chat in the classroom setting.

On Dec. 12, Google sent out 12 “Googlers” to Venice High, and trained teachers for five hours on Google Classroom. Ms. Courtney Lockwood, Mr. Brent Rojo, and Principal Oryla Wiedoeft met with contacts from Google last September. Google has an office near Venice. During this meeting, Dr. Wiedoeft asked if Google could send people to train teachers on using Google Classroom. Google Classroom is a learning platform with Google’s different apps, such as Google Drive and Hangouts.

Any teacher who went to the training was issued a Google Chromebook. Some teachers from nearby middle schools also attended.

Venice High has begun to purchase carts of Chromebooks for teachers to use with their students.

According to Ms. Lockwood, the STEMM Magnet lead teacher, Google has donated $70,000 in grants to Venice High’s STEMM magnet over the past few years, in the form of three different checks. The first check was for computers for the magnet, the second was for robotics equipment for the Principles of Engineering Class, and the third was to buy Android tablets for the Computer Science and Software Engineering classes. In addition, Google has donated some refurbished computers.

“In order to get these grants, I write and submit a grant request each year, and then I write the report at the end of the year explaining exactly how the funds were used and how they benefited students,” said Ms. Lockwood via email.

Teachers Mr. Rojo, Ms. April White, and Mr. Stanley Johnson are the first teachers at Venice to start using Google Classroom. They have been using the platform for their Engineering and Biomedical elective classes.

“Students have been pretty positive for the most part, and have been real helpful in our use of Classroom,” said Mr. Rojo via email.

According to Mr. Rojo, many teachers have started using Google apps such as Docs, Sheets, and Slides. These are used for students to complete assignments.

“Any available funds that we can use to purchase technology for students’ use is a high priority at [Venice],” said Dr. Wiedoeft. “It will take us awhile to get where we are hoping to be, but we are working in that direction.”

All this energy around technology has brought Venice High good recognition.

“The school district was excited that our teachers are so on board with technology,” said Dr. Wiedoeft. “Teachers who so graciously took time from their Saturday to become cutting edge.”

“LAUSD is recognizing Venice High teachers as excellent teachers who are working to bring our students cutting edge curriculum,” said Dr. Wiedoeft via email.