Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Google Apps 101 for Preservice Teachers (and 5 practical steps for them to take)

Recently I had the opportunity to speak to a group of students at Youngstown State University here in Ohio. These were students preparing to become teachers, and they asked me to share about Google Apps for Education.

It is very important for teacher candidates to become aware of and proficient with Google Apps and how it can be used to transform teaching and learning. When looking for a teaching job, it is highly likely that the schools they encounter will use Google Apps to some level.

  • Of the 30 school districts I directly support in my job, 29 of them are Google Apps districts
  • Google Apps for Education is widely used throughout the state of Ohio, across the country, and around the world
  • Chromebooks account for more than half of all classroom devices, surpassing Apple and Microsoft options

Below is a slideshow presentation I went through with the students to give them a big picture overview of what Google Apps is, the benefits for schools, and details of the most common Google Apps tools and how they are often used in schools.

Below that you will also find my suggestions for what preservice teachers can do between now and getting a teaching job to improve their knowledge and skills with Google App tools.


To Do in the Meantime

So what can preservice teachers do between now and getting a teaching job to improve their knowledge and skills with Google App tools? Below are five practical steps to learn more and to show potential employers that you know how to use Google Apps to impact students.

1) Learn with your personal Gmail account

When you get hired by a Google Apps school, they will provide you with a Google Apps for Education account. In the meantime though, you can access and use almost all of the same tools just by using your personal Gmail account. Anyone can get a free Gmail account, and it comes along with Drive, Docs, Slides, Sheets, Forms, Drawings, Contacts, Calendar, Sites, and more. The main tool missing is Google Classroom, which is only available for schools, but other than that you can practice and master all of the other tools.

If you want to learn more about the differences between a personal Gmail account and school Google Apps account, see my post here: http://www.controlaltachieve.com/2016/01/gafe-vs-personal.html

2) Join your local Google Educator Group

A couple years ago, Google asked people to set up Google Educator Groups (GEGs) all around the world. GEGs are free online forums open to anyone with an interest in using Google tools in schools. You can learn from others, discover resources, find professional development opportunities, ask questions, share your ideas, and connect with other educators.

I run the GEG for the State of Ohio at: http://tiny.cc/geg-ohio

You can find and join your local GEG at: https://www.google.com/landing/geg/groups/

3) Participate in #GAFEChat

If you are a Twitter user you need to set aside time the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month, from 9pm to 10pm (Eastern Standard Time) for GAFEChat. This is a Twitter chat with each session focusing on a different topic related to using Google Apps in schools. There are typically 6 to 8 questions throughout the hour, and you can tweet your answers and ideas, as well as learn from the tweets of all the other participants. This is another great way to learn more and to find more people to add to your Professional Learning Network (PLN)

You can see the upcoming GAFEChat dates and topics, as well as an archive of past chats, at: https://sites.google.com/site/gafechat/home

4) Get Certified

If you really want to impress your potential schools, consider earning certification as a Google Educator. Google provides free online tutorials that lead up to Educator Level 1 and Level 2 certifications. The tests do cost money, but not much, and the training is thorough and practical.

You can learn more about the certifications in my slideshow here: Google Slides link

You can get specific information on the Educator levels at the links below:
Google Certified Educator Level 1
Google Certified Educator Level 2

5) Connect with me

A final great way to learn more about Google Apps in schools is to stay plugged into the resources I share. There are several ways to stay in the loop:

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