It’s hard to believe that Google first launched their suite of apps almost 11 years ago. Even more hard to believe is that I’ve been using many of them in teaching since 2008. My first Google site was put together as a way to keep things organized for my courses in one place. The Sites app was a lot different than it is today – over the years, many updates has allowed it to become much more user friendly. These days, G Suite (the new branding for Google Apps) for Education has 70 million users, 20 million students and teachers are using Google Classroom and numerous schools have a 1:1 laptop program with many choosing Chromebooks.
Once G Suite became more prevalent in schools wanting to incorporate technology and ensure students attained current skills, Google developed teacher training programs as a way to demonstrate fluency with their applications. This training has evolved and taken different forms through the years. Currently, teachers who are interested in learning the functions and uses of G Suite can work through courses in order to gain a Google Certified Educator (GCE) certification. There is a Level 1 and Level 2 designation. Level 1 builds familiarity with the apps and establishes a working knowledge. Level 2 focuses more on application within schools and how to incorporate many of the apps to streamline processes and make teaching more efficient. There are also Certified Innovator and Certified Trainer designations that can be attained once the GCE Level 1 and 2 are completed, for those who are interested in going deeper into the G Suite world. More info can be found on the training centre website.
Although I had been using the G Suite for almost a decade as well as attending a Google Apps for Education (GAFE) Summit in 2013, it was never a priority for me to complete the certification process. My feeling was these certifications were more a marketing tool to promote the companies rather than demonstrate a teachers skill or ability in using the technology. Once completing the CoETaIL program in 2014, co-workers and other teachers online have been popping up with this GCE designation, along with others such as Apple Distinguished Educator or Apple Teacher. I’ve slowly changed my perspective and realize that to potential employers, these standardized designations establish concrete evidence of a teacher’s experience and competence with using the online learning tools for which their schools employ. With more and more schools incorporating technology into classrooms and developing progressive missions and visions for the future, these designations now have a more valuable and significant place in a teachers resume.
Having so much experience with G Suite, the units within each of the GCE courses were straight forward. Level 1 has 13 units, while Level 2 has 9 units. Each units is sub-divided into 2-5 smaller lessons that have a suggested time allotment. Once you have worked through each unit, there are questions to check your understanding. However, only the questions from your final exam actually determine your pass/fail status. The exam for both Level 1 and Level 2 consist of two parts: a general knowledge section and a practical application section. When completing the exams, you have a full 3 hours, although for anyone with some prior experience, this should take only about half the given time. Pre-registration for the exams is required along with a payment of $10US and $25US for Level 1 and Level 2. It took only a few hours to receive an email saying the exam was ready and when completed, the verification process takes only 2-3 minutes as your results are assessed, letting you know if you have passed. An email with the certification document and badge came shortly after.