Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Google's Applied Digital Skills: 150+ Free Tech Skills Lessons for You and Your Students

Digital skills are more important than ever for our students and for us as educators. 
  • Our students need digital skills to be prepared for the jobs of their future, and to function in daily life now. 
  • As educators we need digital skills to communicate more effectively with our students, provide them with more engaging learning experiences, and to stay organized ourselves.
There are loads of wonderful resources to help all of us improve our digital skills from blogs to YouTube channels to podcasts and more. One fantastic, and totally free, resource is Google's Applied Digital Skills.

Applied Digital Skills is a totally free, video-based, online curriculum to teach digital skills for your students in any subject area and for your own professional development. There are over 150 ready-to-use lessons covering a wide range of age levels, tech tools, and topics.

See below for a short video demonstrating this awesome resource, as well as written directions with all the details. And a big thanks to Google for sponsoring this blog post!

Tutorial Video (10 minutes)


You can also view this video on YouTube at:

Or you can listen to the audio-only podcast version here (Subscribe on Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts, or your favorite podcast tool.)


Accessing Applied Digital Skills

First you can access the site by going to:


From here you can click on the "Sign in" button to sign in with your Google account. You will then get a screen asking if you are a student or a teacher.
  • A student can take any course on their own, or enroll in a class being monitored by a teacher.
  • A teacher can also take any course or enroll in a class, but teachers can also create their own classes for students to join.


  • If you choose the option for "I'm a teacher" you will get a brief survey to get your registered. 
  • You will also be asked if you want to connect Applied Digital Skills with your Google Classroom. This is not required at all, but does make it easy to connect your existing classes and students with these lessons.


Whether you are a student or a teacher, you will now be taken to your Applied Digital Skills Dashboard. Here you will be able to:
  • Access your current classes
  • Create a class
  • Join a class
  • Browse lessons



Accessing the Lessons

Let's take a look at the lessons provided with Applied Digital Skills. To do so we simply click the "Browse lessons" button from any page on the site.

Here we can explore all of the lessons, which as of this writing there are 160 lessons, but the number is growing all the time.


Although you can browse through all the lessons, you can also narrow down the list in a few ways.
  • First, you can use the search box to find a lesson by keyword.
  • Next, you can use the "Filter by" options to look for lessons by "Audience" (from late elementary to adult learners), or by which "Digital Tool" is covered, or by the "Topic" that is explored in the lesson.
  • Finally you can also use the "Collections" at the top to view lessons grouped by a theme. For example, the "Google Workspace Training" is an excellent collection of 10 lessons to teach you all about using Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drive, and Gmail.

Sample Lessons

Just a few of the lessons available include:

Write an If-Then Adventure Story - Students brainstorm story ideas and then create a story using interactive slides.


Create a Budget Using Google Sheets - Students develop practical life skills like critical thinking as they develop budgets for purchases.


Create a Resume in Google Docs - Students brainstorm about their experience, skills, achievements, and other job qualifications, and then create, format, and edit a resume using a Google Docs template.


Organize Files in Drive - You and your students can learn how to get organized with folders, files, labels, and color-coding in Drive.


Create Quizzes in Google Forms - Learn to use Forms to prepare and distribute subject-area quizzes, as well as how to administer forms to digitally request and gather feedback from others.


Annotate Text in Google Docs - Students engage texts as they read by using formatting and annotation tools to identify unfamiliar words and concepts, read for the main idea, and take notes alongside their reading.



Exploring a Lesson

Let's dive a little deeper into a specific lesson now. When you click on a lesson you will see a list of the content for that lesson. This will mostly consist of short videos, but may also include quizzes and optional extension activities.


When you start the lesson you will now watch short step-by-step videos that will teach the content and walk you through the project as you complete it. A few things to note as you watch the videos:
  • Below the video you will find a link to view the transcript, as well as a drop-down menu to adjust the playback speed.
  • Clicking the 3-dots button will also allow you to turn captions on or off, and to pop out the video in "Picture in picture" so it is easier to watch the video and do the project.
  • To the right of the video you will see any specific directions for what you need to complete on this step.
  • Finally, when you complete the video, click the "Next" button at the bottom to move onto the next step and video.



Managing Classes

Now you and your students can explore and complete any lessons you would like without having to join a class. However, Applied Digital Skills also allows you as a teacher to create classes. This can make it easier for you to share lessons with your students, and to monitor their progress as they work through the lessons.

Here's how to do that:
  • First we want to head back to our dashboard page by clicking the "My dashboard" link at the top of any page.
  • Next click the "+" button and choose "Create a class".
  • If you use Google Classroom you can choose an existing class to import into your Applied Digital Skills dashboard. If you do this option, your students from that Google Classroom will be added automatically to this class when they log into Applied Digital Skills.


  • If you don't use Google Classroom, or simply want to make a class that is not imported from Classroom, you can create a class manually
  • In this case a "Class code" will be generated that you will need to give to your students so they can join your class.


Now that you have created a class, you can add specific lessons to the class that you want your students to complete.
  • Simply click "Browse lessons" to go back to the page listing all the lessons.
  • Find a lesson you want to add.
  • Click the "Add to class" button.
  • Choose the class (or classes) you want to add this lesson to.
  • When students access this class they will now see a convenient link to access this lesson.


  • Another benefit of creating a class is the ability to track student progress
  • When you click on a class in your dashboard you can then view details on how many videos each student has watched in each lesson.



Conclusion

And that's it! With Google's Applied Digital Skills you can integrate technology into any of your classes. And you don't have to be an expert with the tech tools. The step-by-step videos are already created for you and the lessons are ready to use.

However if you want to become a tech expert, you can complete any of the lessons as well for your own professional development, at your own pace, whenever works for you.

So visit the site today at https://applieddigitalskills.withgoogle.com and see what you and your students can explore, learn, and create.


Post by Eric Curts. Bring me to your school, organization, or conference with over 50 PD sessions to choose from. Connect with me on Twitter at twitter.com/ericcurts 

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