Monday, July 24, 2017

Earning Google Certification

The first time I heard about Google Certified Educators, I was intrigued. What could Google offer to teachers? Why would having a Google Certificate make any difference?

Becoming a Google Certified Educator means knowing how to effectively use the G Suite for Educators in the classroom. It means using the Google tools as actual tools and not gimmicks. It's really easy to say "Oh yes, I use technology to enhance education because I show youtube videos in class." or "I use technology because I have a class website."

Google Certified Educators take technology beyond a once in a while event and use it to help themselves and their students.

I was first introduced to the idea of becoming Google Certified last school year. The school where I was teaching was moving to Chromebooks for the 1:1 tech. I planned to get my certification over the summer and was very happy to find that I had to earn a "microcredential" as part of one of my graduate classes.

Last year I had taken my classroom as paperless as I could using Google Drive and Classroom. Some of my students did better with paper. It made my life as a teacher so much easier. Google Forms was wonderful for worksheets, exit tickets, and assessments. I was able to post videos for students who were absent, and give them copies of all assignments. The biggest problem was actually with students pressing the button to submit assignments! I thought missing assignments would disappear, but it was still difficult to get students to push the button.

Thanks to the experience I had using G Suites for Education, the actual process of Google Certification was a review of skills I already had. There are three modules and 13 units total. The training process is interactive with videos, scenarios, and mini-quizzes. If you feel confident in one area, you can skip the lesson and go straight to the quiz. However, I wouldn't recommend doing this because there's just so much extra information and little "hacks" to make life easier.

One Google site I didn't know about was Google Keep. It's now one of my favorites! It's basically a list keeper. I like lists. As soon as I finished the training on Google Keep, I made five lists of all my state standards. When I teach a standard, I can check it off the list. I'd like to be able to add a date and time, or multiple checks if I do it more than once. I'm not sure if that's possible. If it's not, I'll probably add the standard multiple times. Or maybe create a checklist for each nine weeks. These Keep lists are shareable, so it would be great for planning purposes within departments.

The test for certification takes about two hours. I test quickly in most instances. I don't usually need the full two hours. This exam really does need the full amount of time it says. I can't disclose what is on the test and how it is formatted, except that you need two hours and a webcam.

The big downside for me with this certification is that this next school year, I will not be at a school with 1:1 technology. Some of my new students don't have computers or internet at home, not because they can't afford it, but because there simply isn't the infrastructure where they live. As in, there's no internet service provider. The only tech I have in my classroom is my teacher laptop, a PC, and a ceiling mounted projector.

This is presenting a big challenge for me in how to integrate 21st century skills into a classroom without the latest gadgets. Right now, I plan on using Google Classroom for big projects like papers and presentations. I won't be able to use it for quizzes and daily work like I was before. I still plan on posting digital copies of worksheets and assignments in case  for when students lose work. Another idea is to provide students with a daily summary on Google Classroom of what we did in class. This way, students will have a way to double check they have all they need.

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