Friday, December 30, 2016

Should I become Google Certified? Yes!: Reflecting on my Level 1 Experience

I have been putting off completing the Google Certified Educator training for a little while now. With two children and coaching, being able to set aside a sustained block of time is nearly impossible. Being on break afforded me a little extra time to squeeze in Level 1 and having a mother who is also an educator (and obsessed with her grandchildren) helped too. Meticulously responding to each question or task, it took me approximately one hour and twenty minutes to complete the test, which I thought was practical, informative, and a fair assessment of all aspects of Google Apps for Education (including Google Hangouts, Sheets, Sites, and Calendar - among the more commonly used Docs, Drive, and Forms).

For people apprehensive to completing the certification exam, I would say that you have no reason to be tentative. In fact, I would highly encourage this experience. Google allows three hours to take the test, which is more than enough time. I intentionally took the exam slowly - reading and rereading the instructions to ensure that I did not advance too quickly through questions, and I had over half the time to spare. Also, the questions and tasks Google asks are fair, logical, and ask the test taker to apply skills that are helpful to an educator in a variety of circumstances. Here are a few tips I recommend completing before taking the test.

1. Familiarize yourself with the tools and devices.

Before opening up the test, which cannot be paused once one has begun it, make sure you have used Google Classroom, Drive, Docs, Gmail, Calendar, Hangouts, Sheets, etc. The complete list of #GAFE can be accessed from the exam website. In the Level 1 course, no task is too complicated, but familiarity is key and can save a person time during the test.

2. Browse the fundamentals.

If you are a person who uses several GAFE frequently, this exam should be a breeze. On the other hand, if you are not, allow yourself the time to complete the training. Key concepts on the exam are outlined in the training module and include: Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership, Increase Efficiency and Save Time, and Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity. These are important concepts and can definitely help improve workflow (especially the piece on efficiency and saving time).

3. Review the checklist.

This checklist was comprehensive and was a reference sheet I reviewed before completing the exam. Knowing what subjects might be addressed during the test gave me a boost of confidence and allowed me time to review Google Hangouts one last time before starting the three-hour timer.

4. Consult the ideas of others.

The ideas link on the Google Training website was interesting to explore. Looking at the Google Suit of a local elementary district reminded me why using GAFE is important and how much it can truly enhance the learning experience for students if correctly utilized. GAFE makes the walls of the classroom less concrete. Students can access resources anywhere and can provide them with the ability to take more control of their learning. While we are still needed to support and guide, technology can make students' reception of application of knowledge more thorough.

I was very impressed with the Google Certified Educator Level 1 exam. I thought it was reasonable and educational. While I do believe it was worth my time and reminded me of a few Apps that perhaps should be reviewed and discussed with students and colleagues, I wish that it did provide some feedback. I understand why Google would not want to show people incorrect answers on the multiple choice test, but perhaps there would be a way to say, "Brush up on this app" or "Take a look at this concept within GAFE." The lack of direct feedback is a minor complaint of mine, for sure. Overall, I feel that this experience was worthwhile and will help my colleagues and I have a basic working knowledge of GAFE and why implementing them is adventitious to classroom learning.

Now onto Level 2!

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