Back in May, I completed the exam to become a Level 1 Google Certified Educator, after months of working through the online units. I reflected on that journey in a post named My journey to Google Certified Educator. I concluded that post with these words: ‘bring on level 2!’ That’s exactly what I did! The journey continues…
Dickie (our ICT coordinator) and I have been working through the level 2 online units over the last couple of months. Compared to level 1, the process has been so much more relaxed for me. Despite the advanced nature of the higher level, in many ways it has been a lot easier! I studied for level 1 as a total beginner. For this unit, I had a solid foundation of level 1 understanding. It was just a case of building on it.
Having said that, it wasn’t just a simple case of completing the units. I had to revise them hard before tackling the exam! Much of the advanced functionality of the tools was new to me and the course also introduced some tools that I had never used before. As I learnt from unit 1, exam success relies on more than just memorising unit content. It’s necessary to become familiar with the tools and to be able to fluently use them for authentic educational purposes. I therefore spent a lot of time familiarising myself with new tools prior to the exam. Yes, quick searches can be carried out during the exam for little reminders of things, but three hours is not enough time to rely on this for everything. I highly recommend using YouTube tutorials to learn some of the functions. Seeing them visually and then having a play with them myself proved to be the best method for me. I can’t learn complicated tricks through reading alone!
From level 2, here is a list of some tools/ideas that I was less familiar with, along with a brief introduction. I look forward to integrating these throughout this year. In particular, this quote stuck with me:
“When students produce for the public – be it peers, family, or the rest of the world – they want it to be good. When students produce for their teachers, they want it to be good enough.”
Google Training Centre, 2016
Blogger: Obviously, I’m a fan of blogging! However, it is not something that I have explored with my students yet. I would love to! Blogger is easier to use than I realised and certainly not too difficult for my students. Who could we share with? What should we share? How can we maximise the benefits?
Google Sites: Google Sites was not one of my favourite tools. I have seen teachers and students do amazing things with it, but for me it was a little clunky. However, thanks to the new updates, Google Sites is now simpler, easier and much more efficient, It’s certainly worth a fresh consideration. This post by Paul Covell outlines the main changes.
Google Sheets functions and conditional formatting: This seems more complicated than it actually is. I need to start using functions and conditional formatting in Google Sheets to make my life so much easier, especially when analysing data. In particular, the filter function looks invaluable! Watch this video instead of reading complicated written instructions:
HyperDocs: These documents, based on a pedagogical understanding of blended learning, include interactive elements such as questions, videos, links, choices, etc. The interactive elements bring the worksheet to life and encourage critical thinking, problem solving, creativity and student voice. To find out more, click here.
Tour Builder: Create virtual tours around any locations on Earth using Tour Builder. Bring your units to life by sending students to relevant locations. Add interactivity to each stop to allow students to learn more.
Cultural Institute: Google collates high quality images of exhibitions, artworks, artifacts and more in the Cultural Institute. It’s even possible to take virtual tours of some of the world’s most amazing landmarks, galleries and museums. This could be a gem of a resource, especially for art and history teachers!
Google Lit Trips: GLT Global Ed is a non-profit organisation that brings literature to life using Google Earth. They have designed virtual tours around story locations to follow the characters’ journeys. Simply request a Lit Trip for free from their collection and the link will be emailed to you. For example, I requested the Lit Trip to accompany Anne Frank’s diary (just as a test). The tour included significant locations from the diary as well as interactive elements with additional information. Can’t find a Lit Trip for a particular book? They take requests…
Advanced uses of the research tool: This is such a brilliant, simple tool that I have too often overlooked with my students! The research tool can be accessed within Docs (tools > research). From within the document, students can search several search options and filter using advanced settings. From here, it’s also incredibly easy to create website links and citations in APA, Chicago or MLA formats. The Explore tool seems to have controversially replaced research in some other Google apps, but the functions are similar.
Student-led support: Dickie and I have already discussed this idea. It would be great as part of student leadership initiatives such as the Action and Service Volunteers (which I co-coordinate). As students become increasingly confident users of technology, they can support their peers and even their teachers. Powerful stuff!
This is just a snapshot of my learning, and the tools above can certainly be used in more advanced ways that I haven’t discovered yet! These are just basic descriptions from what I know so far. Which ones have you used with your students? Which ones would you like to find out more about? Let me know in the comments below.
If you are interested in becoming certified yourself, follow this link to the Google Training Centre. The courses for level 1 and 2 are free, but the exams and US$10 and US$25 respectively.
So, what’s next? Google Certified Trainer? Google Certified Innovator? Perhaps I should branch out and explore a wider range of products and services. For example, I’d love to work towards becoming an Apple Distinguished Educator. Anyway, I won’t get ahead of myself. I first want to integrate what I have learnt from level 2. I look forward to the learning and challenges ahead.
If you live in Hong Kong (or are willing to travel to Hong Kong), you might be interested in the EdTechTeam Summit (18th-19th February 2017). Excitingly, the event will be hosted at my school! I can’t recommend it enough! This is the event that I made reference to in my first post. For me, it’s where it all began. Sign up now by following this link. Early bird rates are still available. Also, save a further 10% by signing up with four others to assemble your #Fab5. A bootcamp for Google Certified Educator Level 2 is also available as a pre-summit workshop on February 17th. It’s worth noting that you do not need the level 1 certification to complete level 2. If you are already a competent user of G Suite (formerly known as Google Apps for Education), go for it! Follow the link above for all of the information and to sign up. We hope to see you there!
While I have your attention, please take note of two important updates:
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- My colleagues and I are raising money for men’s health charities by supporting the Movember Foundation. As well as sporting a ridiculous moustache, I will walk 20,000 steps every day in November as part of the MOVE challenge. If you enjoyed this post, or if you find any value in my blog, please consider a small donation to my Movember page. Donating online is quick and easy. Remember, it’s for a very important cause: http://mobro.co/adamhill88. Many, many thanks!