Jessica Brogley, instructor in the University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s School of Education, was one of 200 people chosen worldwide by Google to attend “Google Local Guides Connect Live 2019,” a global meetup for some of the world’s best contributors to Google Maps, held Nov. 12-15 in San Jose, California, and at the Google campus in Sunnyvale, California.
The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was a direct result of work Brogley does in her free time as a Local Guide for Google Maps. As a Local Guide, she contributes photos and reviews as well as confirms information about businesses and public venues and answers questions.
To date, Brogley has contributed over 1,900 photos, 500 of which are photospheres, to Google Maps, and has 6.8 million views on those photos.
In April, Brogley took (what she called) a “wild shot” and applied for the Local Guides Connect Live 2019 conference, despite knowing that a Google team would select only 200 people (out of thousands) who had demonstrated a commitment to using Google Maps as a Local Guide.
Her application focused on her commitment to leveraging Google Maps and photography to tell the digital story of the people, history and land of Southwest Wisconsin. “We live in such a beautiful region with a fascinating history,” she said. “It’s important to share our landscape, history and culture with the world.”
Over the years, Brogley has photographed several historical landmarks and public areas. “Lots of places in Southwest Wisconsin aren’t on Google Maps or Streetview, so I try to focus on some of those locations,” she said. “Overall, my two favorite subject matters are architecture and landscapes, as they both reveal cultural values and contribute to our story.”
In June, when Brogley found out that she was one of the 200 people chosen to attend the conference, she was ecstatic. On Nov. 12, she flew to San Jose, California, and joined top Local Guides from 64 countries to celebrate success, provide feedback to Google employees and discover inspiring ways to become an even better Google Maps contributor. All expenses were paid by Google.
Google’s goal for the conference was for attendees to experience learning, friendship and celebration.
“Not even a quarter of the group were from the United States, and I think there were only three people from the Midwest,” said Brogley. “I met so many people and learned about their cultures. It was definitely the most culturally-diverse experience I’ve ever had, with every moment being a new learning opportunity.”
“The School of Education is so lucky to have someone as forward thinking, in regard to the integration of technology into classroom settings, as Jessica,” said Dr. Jen Collins, director of the School of Education at UW-Platteville. “As we continue to sharpen our focus on using place-based pedagogies to drive classroom instruction, the use of technology as a means to connect our rural students to the rest of the world is imperative. Jessica’s leadership in this area continues to amaze and inspire all of us. I can’t wait to see what she envisions for our future teachers next.”
A highlight of the conference for Brogley was discovering local favorites in San Jose and touring the Sunnyvale campus. “I’ve always wanted to see a Google campus,” she said. “Of course, there was plenty we couldn’t see, but walking the grounds, seeing the bikes and just being in that space together was special.”
Brogley said the heart of her teaching philosophy is providing relevant learning opportunities for future teachers so they can make a meaningful difference in the lives of their future students. The global technology conference ties into her work in the School of Education, as she coaches pre-service teachers in how to leverage technology to tell stories.
“I want my students to realize any of us can contribute to a global movement – your work matters,” she said. “Attending Connect Live 2019 has truly impacted how I look at coaching students in leveraging technology to support their communities. Each person has the power to do works of good and tell rich stories to the entire world – the tool is right in our hands. When teachers embrace that, and empower students to tell those stories, amazing learning can take place.”
“My message for others is to 1.) join the Local Guides Program and 2.) use your Smartphone or camera and start capturing the imagery of where you live, work and play with the idea of sharing it on Google Maps,” added Brogley. “Your sense of place matters and can trigger awareness in all sorts of disciplines: history, art, science, agriculture, et cetera. Why not capture those moments and share them with the world?”
Brogley currently teaches all of the educational technology courses in the School of Education. She also teaches Pre-Student Teaching and coaches the edTPA, a performance-based, subject-specific assessment and support system used by teacher preparation programs to measure and support the skills and knowledge that teachers need in the classroom. In addition to this work, Brogley is a Level 8 Local Guide on Google Maps, Google Certified Innovator, Trainer and Streetview Trusted Photographer. She is also a freelance digital communication specialist, providing technology training and services in photography, social media support and web design for the community.