Have you ever noticed how so many teacher bloggers and edtech coaches have micro-credentials in their social media bios? Have you ever wondered if these badges and certifications are actually valuable?
From Google Certified Educator to Apple Teacher to Seesaw Ambassador – teachers around the world are adding micro-credentials to their resumes, portfolios, and websites. But why?
As someone who uses the Google Suite every single day, I used to wonder if becoming a Google Certified Educator would actually bring any value to my day-to-day life.
Sure, it’s great to take a course online, but if it doesn’t have direct application to my practice as a teacher, it just isn’t worth my time.
In summer 2020, I’ve decided to learn firsthand whether the Google Certified Educator badge is worth it. And more than that, I have decided to become a micro-credential guinea pig for several different programs beyond Google.
In doing so, I’ll be able to provide all of you with advice, reviews, and tips along the way.
For today’s blog post, I’ll be giving exactly that – advice, reviews, and tips about the Google Certified Educator Level 1 Training and Exam.
What is a Google Certified Educator?
The Google Certified Educator program gives teachers the opportunity to boost their tech skills with the Google Suite. More specifically, teachers learn effective strategies to implement Google tools in their classrooms.
The Google Certified Educator program has two different levels, fundamentals (Level 1) and advanced (Level 2). In today’s post, I’ll be covering Level 1.
The Level 1 training is designed for teachers who are new to Google tools, so if you’re a Google Suite expert, you might want to check out Level 2. That being said, I consider myself a Google Drive expert, and I still learned some tips and tricks with the training.
About the Fundamentals Training
The fundamentals training is divided into 13 different units:
- Unit #1: Get Ready to Use Technology in the Classroom (85 min)
- Unit #2: Expand Your Access to Help and Learning (51 min)
- Unit #3: Have a (Mostly) Paperless Classroom (45 min)
- Unit #4: Save Time Communicating (79 min)
- Unit #5: Organize Activities for Yourself and Others (34 min)
- Unit #6: Bring Meetings Online (37 min)
- Unit #7: Bring Student Work Online (85 min)
- Unit #8: Measure, Understand, and Share Student Growth (59 min)
- Unit #9: Teach Students Online Skills (62 min)
- Unit #10: Build Interactive Lessons (83 min)
- Unit #11: Captivate Your Class with Video (48 min)
- Unit #12: Facilitate Group Work (57 min)
- Unit #13: Promote Digital Citizenship and Positive Online Behavior (50 min)
The most glaring takeaway here is that the Google Certified Educator Level 1 Training is time-consuming. The times listed next to the units above represent the estimated time for each unit.
It is important to note that the training did not take me nearly as long as the times above indicate, but I recognize that everyone learns at a different pace. I skipped through a few sections and didn’t read every word as closely as I could have.
That being said, it still felt like a time-consuming experience for me. This could be due to the fact that I chose to divide these units into three different days:
- Day 1: Units 1-2
- Day 2: Units 3-8
- Day 3: Units 9-13
You can break up the units based on what works best for your schedule, and I am ultimately glad that I took a 3-day deep-dive into the fundamentals training, rather than spreading it out over the course of several weeks or months.
Exam Advice and Tips
In this section, I’ll be sharing some advice and tips for the Google Certified Educator Level 1 Exam.
When you decide you are ready to take the exam, you can sign up on the Google Teacher Center. The exam costs $10, and many schools and districts will pay for your exam as part of professional development.
After you sign up, it can take as long as 24-48 hours to generate an exam for you. You will receive your exam link via email.
It is important to note that if you plan to take your exam on a specific day, be sure to register ahead of time so that your link arrives on time.
Once you receive your link, you have 8 days to log into the exam.
You will have 180 minutes to complete the exam. It is divided into 2 different sections: multiple choice and application scenario questions.
The exam consists of 20 multiple choice questions (these include drag and drop, select all that apply, etc.) and 11 application scenarios (these include navigating throughout Google Drive.
To be honest, I actually found the scenario questions to be enjoyable. I didn’t know what to expect, and I really liked that I was able to practice real-life situations and tech skills that I can implement with my students in the classroom.
The test covers the main G Suite products that you use regularly as an educator.
Biggest Advice for the Exam
Advice #1: Take the exam in an incognito browser.
When you take the exam, Google creates a new set of login credentials for you, and you want to make sure that you don’t accidentally get logged into your normal Google account.
Because of this, be sure to take the test in an incognito browser.
Advice #2: Write down the login information that they give you.
You only receive your login information once: in the email with the exam link. Write this information down on a piece of paper.
It is critical that you write down this login information in case you get logged out during the exam.
Advice #3: Budget your time wisely.
You only have 180 minutes to complete the exam. Just like with all standardized tests, be sure to budget your time wisely.
I finished the exam with an hour to spare. However, the number 1 reason that teachers fail the exam is because they run out of time.
I tend to be a pretty fast test-taker, and I attribute this to the fact that I worked through the multiple choice questions as quickly as possible so I could really focus my energy on the scenario questions.
Pros and Cons of the Process
In this section, I’m going to discuss the pros and cons of the Google Certified Educator Level 1 Training and Exam.
Con #1: It is a time-consuming process.
I chose to do the Google Fundamentals Training (I didn’t take a paid course or reach out to a certified trainer). While I stand by this decision, it certainly was time-consuming.
The exam itself also takes up a big chunk of time.
Con #2: The training is self-guided.
Like I said, I did the Google Fundamentals Training, which is a self-guided process. Most of the training was text-based, though there were some interactive elements and short videos.
If you are someone who needs to learn from or with another person, I’d recommend using a different training platform than the Google offering.
That being said, I am glad I chose to do the Google version because I already had a firm understanding of the Google Suite. I also didn’t want to pay to use a service.
Pro #1: I learned something!
I have always felt like I have a strong grasp of the Google tools, but after taking the training and completing the exam, I feel like I have an even deeper understanding of how the tools can be applied as a teacher.
I also know more about the tools I had never used before (i.e. Google Tasks).
Pro #2: I know how to maximize these tools.
Google has really incredible tools, but as an educator, you don’t necessarily need to know the functions of every single tool to get by day-to-day. Now, I feel like I know the tools so well that I’m able to leverage them to the best of their ability.
This training program really focuses first on learning outcomes.
Instead of deciding what tool you need to use first, Google provides you with the skills and understanding to be able to determine your learning outcome first. From there, you can decide which tool will achieve that learning goal.
In taking the training and the exam, you will know how to leverage tools to meet your classroom needs.
Pro #3: It’s practical.
Sometimes PD is just not practical. I’ve left so many conferences, webinars, and talks feeling like there is no practical application to my job as a teacher. While the ideas and the theories are interesting and engaging, there are few concrete takeaways that I can apply to my classroom.
The Google Certified Educator Level 1 Training and Exam gives you concrete tech skills that you can apply to your classroom tomorrow.
I hope you learned a little bit about the Google Certified Educator Level 1 Training and Exam. Join me back here soon where I’ll discuss my thoughts on Level 2.