You are probably familiar with Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Sheets, and Google Forms, but maybe you would like to round out your skills using Google's digital technologies and find out if there are any new tools to bring into your classroom (2022, Bell). Or perhaps you are already pretty savvy, and you’d like proof of your skills. Google offers certifications for educators who pass its exams. There is a fundamentals level (Level 1) and an advanced level (Level 2).
Is certification something that would benefit your teaching and professional opportunities? Read on to learn about how to become certified and what skills you would develop.
Reasons to Consider Certification
Anyone: teachers, administrators, instructional technology coaches, or laymen can take Google’s certification exams; however, they are geared toward educational technology professionals. If you are already your school’s tech mentor or technology integration coach, you may be asked to get these certifications, especially if your school buys a subscription to G Suite, if you use Google Classroom, or if your district offers online courses that draw on Google resources.
If you would like to position yourself for this type of role, getting certified might make you more competitive. Some teachers may want the motivation that an exam deadline can bring. Professional development trainers and/or teachers who need to meet a continuing education requirement (or professional learning credit requirement) might seek certification.
Once you have passed both levels, you might consider applying to Google’s trainer and coach program. Trainers and coaches can add their profiles to Google’s directory, and advertise their services. If a district decides not to train someone in-house, it may find a Google certified trainer or coach from Google's network.
You can start studying the materials for the different levels by signing up for free with your personal Google (Gmail) accounts or G Suite linked district account. Google’s teacher center (also called Google for Education Training Center) will direct you to their Skillshop’s page, and you’ll see online training courses for each level unit and its subtopics. These courses are asynchronous. The estimated time allotted is a little over fifteen hours per level.
Clarify with your district whether the time that you spend working through these units will or won’t be compensated before you begin. You do not need to complete these modules before you take the certification tests. Look through the topics if you think you might be able to pass the exams without much training (but be aware that Level 2 has a reputation for being more challenging). If your district wants you to get certified quickly, they may pay for on-site training (or “boot camp”) for your entire campus instead. There are also online boot camps for districts that are practicing social distancing.
How are the certification levels different? How are they similar? In both Level 1 and 2 of Google's Educator certification materials, teachers will learn best practices for tech-driven learning, privacy policies, and digital citizenship skills.
Level 1 covers Google’s major file types (docs, slides, and sheets), quizzes, Gmail and calendar features, and YouTube. You may get questions on the exam about managing a Google Drive. You will also learn about chatting and conferencing tools and grade book analysis.
Level 2 is more advanced: You will learn to add Google apps, extensions, and scripts. Skillshop will walk you through making slides, YouTube videos, and field trips that are interactive. You will also learn about Google products that you might not have expected to have Edtech applications: Maps and Earth.
Both levels address using search tools to do research: Level 1's preparatory curriculum covers how to do effective web searches and how Google orders its results while Level 2 has addresses how to use Google Translate and Google Scholar. Within the different levels, each unit has three to five sub-topics and a review section at the end with questions that prompt you to reflect on your digital learning experiences and your future goals.
Taking the Exams
Once you feel confident that you have mastered the tools and skills for each level, you will need to sign up for the exam. Sethi De Clercq from AppEvents (2019) recommends using a personal Gmail account if you would like to leverage your certification outside of your current district. If your district is paying for your training and/or your exam, they may expect you to use your school account.
The exam fee ranges from $10 to $25, for Level 1 and Level 2, respectively. Both are three hours long are online exams. They are proctored remotely, so you will need a working webcam (2019, De Clercq).
The exam has a mix of question types, the most time-consuming being the scenario questions. You should also expect matching questions and multiple-choice questions. See Lisa Schwartz's analysis of the exam for a nice breakdown of the question types (2021), and John Sowash provides more details about topic frequency in this video:
Google Educator’s trainings can help you gauge your preparedness for the certification exams, but they have other potential benefits as well. Even if you won’t get paid to get certified, consider viewing the training modules.
You might learn new tricks for integrating technology and keeping your class organized, and these professional growth resources provide a nice reference for later classroom integration. If you do take and pass the exams, you will have the confidence and documentation to be a tech leader at your school.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to get Level 1 certification before Level 2?
No, if you feel that Level 2 would be more appropriate and your district agrees, you can skip Level 1 (2019, Schwartz). Preview the topics on Skillshare to see whether there might be big gaps in your content knowledge before deciding on an appropriate level.
Can I use more than one device? Is my computer blocked from opening other browser tabs?
In the past, there were more restrictions, but now you can use more than one device during your exam (2021, Sowash).
Is the exam easy to navigate?
If you are nervous about navigating a new environment, take a few minutes to view John Sowash's screenshot showing the online exam's format.
Do I need classroom experience to take the exams?
There are no classroom teaching requirements; however, most of the topics will make more sense if you are a classroom teacher or working in a classroom setting. You will be tested on specific educational applications for Google's Edtech tools rather than a broader range of Google's digital tools. If you are taking this exam in hopes of professional opportunities, be aware that most districts will be looking for trainers with classroom experience (and often they will look for someone within their current pool of employees first).
When will I get my results?
You will not get your results immediately. It may take up to three business days.
Am I certified for life?
No, certifications expire after three years.
Do I pay for an exam myself?
Ask your district whether you should pay and send an expense report or wait to get a voucher before signing up for an exam time.
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