Saturday, April 27, 2019

Google Innovator Academy - Why you should apply!

Have you thought about becoming a Google for Education Certified Educator? If not, I hope this post will encourage you to do so. Before explaining the process I give some of the benefits I’ve experienced through my journey using G Suite for Education and from becoming a #GoogleEI in 2013. You’ll find links embedded in this post and listed below. 

  • Working with a challenge. An inherent part of the Innovator Academy is to come with a problem that you aim to work with. The design cycle is used to work through your Innovator project. (and there are a lot of really cool project ideas - see some of them here
  • A massive growth to your PLN, locally & globally. Innovators are a dynamic community of educators and dedicated lifelong learners. They share, support, and engage with each other. It’s an active and enthusiastic community. 
  • Access to solutions. When I don’t have an answer to a problem (mine or a colleague’s), I ask an Innovator (and the Trainer community as well). Without exception, if I post a question I get multiple responses and almost always walk away satisfied and with new ideas and/or tools.
  • Opportunities to present. Although I’m a regular classroom teacher I have been all over the main island of Japan presenting for schools and at professional development events. I’ve been to the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand as a presenter/workshop facilitator. These opportunities have allowed me to develop my skills in this area. (and meet a whole lot of interesting people!) If you live in the United States, there are many opportunities! (I'm admittedly envious of how much is happening in the United States)
  • Opportunities to test. From time to time Google will reach out to Innovators and Trainers for assistance in testing products or participating in/supporting initiatives before the launch. (often under NDA) It’s quite flattering to be in the loop before most people know there is a loop!

So how do you become part of this inspiring group of people?

  • Study for the GCE Level 1 & 2 exams. Complete the Google Certified Educator exams, both level one and level two. Be sure to study - just using Google doesn’t mean you’re a Google for Education ninja. Use the online study guides to support your learning.
  • Be detailed. Look over the Innovator Program application requirements carefully. In doing this you will have to think about a problem that exists in your educational context. 
  • Identify a problem. While finding a real-world problem you should interview people in your context to discover the nature of the problem. Equally important, find out if your ‘problem’ really is a problem. Don't make a problem that doesn't exist - you may find that you’ve been way off the mark, but hopefully discover what real problems exist. Your goal should be to have a positive impact that affects change, not the Innovator badge.
  • Be thoughtful. Craft your responses carefully. It’s a competitive application process and you’ll want to demonstrate creative thinking.
  • Craft your vision deck carefully. You use a Google Slides deck to create your “Vision Deck” that outlines your vision in 6 slides. Get feedback before submission. Ask any current Innovators (and other educators) to give you advice. 
  • Be active on Twitter and other social media. When doing this, don’t simply retweet. Focus your tweets on useful ideas, articles, videos, etc. If you want to be heard, say something worth listening to. Do this regularly, not once a week. Demonstrate your commitment to sharing and reaching out with meaningful posts. When applications are vetted your social media presence will be assessed. While this is not the be-all-end-all of your application those who are reaching out and sharing stand out. Quality and originality are better than five million retweets. 
  • Plan your application video. While amazing video production isn’t expected, a good video that focuses on the heart of your stated problem is essential. Avoid the one-take video of yourself talking. Use a Slides deck with narration, or a series of video and images that reflect your application. Have a look at some successful application videos on YouTube and use #GoogleEI on Twitter for inspiration and ideas. (and stick to the prescribed length of time - less is more!)

Good luck! We want you on the team!

Google for Education Innovator Academy Information & Application
Google Certified Educator Level 1 (click Fundamentals Training for the course)
Google Certified Educator Level 2 (click Advanced Training for the course)

More on Google for Education Certifications
Google Certified Education Trainer
Google for Education Teacher Center
G Suite Certification for Students (a new program for students!)