Becoming a Google Certified Educator

GoogleApps2I have been on a journey (or perhaps it’s been more of a quest?) over the past year. The district in which I work, like many other districts, have been bitten by the Google bug. Therefore, they are (and have been) encouraging all teachers in the district to become Google Certified Educators. So I forged ahead to become a Google Certified Educator and to see what Google Apps might offer.

Although I was not a stranger to Gmail, the rest of the suite was relatively new at first, but I found the transition to be somewhat easier than I initially expected because I had been a fairly serious user of their Microsoft Office counterparts. After diving into the Google Apps and actively using them for several months, I decided that it was time to officially begin my training, so I headed to the Google for Education Training Center. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I found that the Training Center was user-friendly. Thankfully, Google put time and effort to develop a training center whose structure allowed individuals to self-monitor their learning and to move at their own pace. The modules, units, and lessons were organized in a way that seemed logical to me. The lesson checks and unit reviews allowed me to pre-assess (and reassess) my knowledge and skills so that I could target certain concepts or move past other ones as needed. Often the questions on each check or review were more than simple multiple choice questions, and many required application of specific apps in order to come to the correct answer. The inclusion of videos and of links to additional support articles made the training center comprehensive for an individual to learn the fundamentals of the suite of Google Apps and prepare him/her for the level one certification exam.

After using the suite for over a year, there’s a lot about the suite of Google Apps that I love (especially the real-time collaboration that they allow), but perhaps it’s because I grew up using the Microsoft Office Suite that I still favor it for doing work such as emailing, drafting documents, keeping data, and making newsletters. I will keep forging ahead though because I know that my journey with Google and maximizing collaborative learning is not at an end. (I’m working on passing my level two certification exam by the end of the summer!) Let me know about your experience with becoming a Google Certified Educator, your thoughts on using the Google Apps Suite, and how you are using Google Apps to maximize collaborative learning! I look forward to reading your thoughts and experiences. After all, I’m not done learning.

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9 thoughts on “Becoming a Google Certified Educator

  1. I agree that in the beginning I felt more comfortable continuing to use the Microsoft programs. I’ve found, though, that over time I am starting to prefer Google. Maybe it’s because it’s what all of my students are using, so it’s easier to collaborate with them, or maybe because I really like how easy it is to collaborate with other teachers too. Google Docs and Slides have been great for my English classes. We are able to edit and share papers with ease, and students are able to create presentations that they can share with me for projection up on the SmartBoard instantaneously. It’s also great if a student is absent and needs feedback on an assignment. I’ve also used Forms for short quizzes and surveys in class. It’s beats collecting a million sheets of paper! I, too, am still learning and getting comfortable with all of the items, but now that I have a fairly solid understanding of how the programs work I find I’m really enjoying them and using them for almost everything these days!

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    1. Thanks for sharing, Taryen. I agree with you that collaboration is better and sharing is much easier. I can easily share files with my colleagues, and we can work collaboratively to improve upon something without being in the same room. The same is possible with students too (as you said), but I still wish that Google Docs (and Sheets and Slides) had more features/options. For example, the options for creating tables in Google Docs is more cumbersome. Also, I’m a big shortcut user in MS Office, and the Google Apps just don’t have those same keyboard shortcuts that I know and love. So I just don’t feel that I’m as efficient creating something using Docs than I am in using MS Word, but perhaps with time that will change. Do you find formatting a concern when working with your journalism students? Or perhaps your students are just drafting when using these collaboration tools and therefore formatting is not a concern?

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      1. I haven’t had trouble with formatting for journalism because we just do drafting copy on Google Docs. If they go on to publish the piece, that happens online on our website, a blog, or if it’s going to print, Adobe Indesign. But, yes, I agree about the short cuts and less options overall. For instance, it’s a whole process to create an em-dash in Docs, which causes problems when that’s what students mean but in reality they’re just using a hyphen.

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      2. Taryen, thanks for your thoughts. I’m glad that you’re able to use Google pretty much everyday. It really does save a lot of paper and helps with communication too, especially when used in conjunction with Canvas!

        I also was annoyed with the lack of an automatic em dash from two hyphens in Google Docs, but I found out that you can set an em dash by going to the Tools menu, selecting preferences, and adding it to the automatic substitution. It’s still not perfect but better. Have you tried that or are the students just inserting a special character?

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      3. Yes! I’ve told them how to make that change. Of course, there are still plenty who don’t follow directions and continue to use a hyphen or just put two hyphens in there instead! Oh well…

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  2. Sue,

    I am a Level 1 and 2 Google Certified Educator. For both certifications, I attended EdTech team’s GAFE bootcamp and complete the training modules through Google for Education’s Training Center.
    Going through the training center modules was time intensive, but prepared me for success on both exams. I found Level 1 to be to more about the logistics of how to use each tool and Level 2 more about classroom applications and digital lesson design. While I have gained a great deal of knowledge through the process of becoming a Google Certified Educator, I have found the Educational Technology program through St. Francis to be more beneficial to my teaching as assignments encourage me to really experience tools and consider integration into my grade-level. Some of my favorite aspects of Google Apps beyond the collaborative possibilities are the auto-saving and ability to access from almost any device.

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    1. Thank you for your thoughts on getting the Level 1 and 2 certifications, Nicole. What about the Level 2 certification could have been more helpful to you? Was there not enough practical applications for the content that you learned (and too much theory)? I’d love to hear more about your thoughts on it! Thanks!

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      1. I found the Level 2 certification to be much more helpful to my role as a teacher. It was more about enhancing and delivering personalized instruction. It was much more of practical applications for the tools learned in Level 1. I am not sure that I would have been able to pass it however without all the background and practice I already had in these areas thanks to our coursework.

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      2. I’m looking forward to finishing the modules for Level 2. I’m hoping that they will continue to give me more ideas about how to enhance learning and collaboration using the Google apps. I’m glad that the educational technology courses have really helped you. What have you liked the most or what has been your biggest take away from the classes that will help you this coming school year?

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