A couple of hours ago, I completed my Google Certified Educator Level 1 exam, alongside a fantastic team of colleagues (Dickie, Daniel, Julie, Stephanie and Cindy). We all passed! It’s quite late as I write this, but I want to reflect on the whole experience before the elated feeling wears off.
Two years ago, when I moved to Hong Kong and started at my new school, I discovered Google Apps for Education (GAfE). Before that, I honestly thought that Google was just a search engine. How wrong I was! I spent the first year familiarising myself with this new set of tools, mainly Google Drive and Google Docs. This didn’t take long because they’re so simple to use, but I used them for administrative tasks mainly, with very little thought into how I might integrate them into class.
At the start of my second year, I was asked to support Dickie (our ICT coordinator) by being the representative for Year 4. I said I’d do it, even though I had no specialism in ICT (and, back then, little interest in it). The minimum requirement was to relay messages back to my team. I could do that, no problem. Little did I know that I was about to have a passion awakened that I didn’t even know I had!
In October, the reps were invited to attend the GAfE conference in Hong Kong. The speakers were so inspirational and their ideas on how to integrate the technology into lessons were unbelievable to me. It was like a glimpse into the future of education. However, it wasn’t the future. It was already happening. These educators were integrating technology and transforming their pedagogies. They were preparing their students for their futures… and I wasn’t. While we were there, we took the Google for Education Basics online exam and I failed it multiple times, because I was guessing answers without any knowledge of any of the products. With help from my friends, I eventually passed, but I obviously had a lot to learn! Test your own knowledge at this point by following that link. Don’t worry, it’s free and you can take it again and again (like I needed to).
Since the conference, I have made a conscious effort to integrate technology (not just Google) into my classroom practice. We have been working on this course for months and, since it can be done at your own pace, we all took baby steps to ensure that we had a sound knowledge and pedagogical understanding of integration. I have integrated so many tools this year. Each one of them deserves a blog post of their own, so I won’t go into much detail at this stage. The point is, all these months later, I passed the online modules and the exam because I have been using the products ever since. It’s not often that I ‘blow my own trumpet’, but we passed this exam because we earned it. I started at zero (well, close) and now I feel like a hero. My teaching has been totally different this year because I integrate technology thoughtfully, in ways that enhance learning. I’m so thankful that I was asked to be Year 4 ICT rep. I had no idea that it would have such a massive impact.
I can’t recommend this course enough. Even if you start from zero (like I did), work through the modules at your own pace and integrate one tool at a time. In case you’re wondering what’s involved, here’s a list of just some of the tools that you’ll master throughout this course:
Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Forms, Google Slides, Google Sheets, Google Sites, YouTube, Google Classroom, Google Keep, Gmail, Google Tasks, Google Groups, Google Play, Google Hangouts, Google Calendar, Google+, Google Chrome…
If I can do it, anyone can! Start your journey here:
Bring on Level 2!