Maximizing Training Potential for GAFE

Photo by  Madhu Shesharam

How does a large urban school district maximize training potential for thousands of educators to use Google Apps for Education (GAFE)? That is a question that I was faced with as I became the newest member of the central staff Educational Technology Department.  

With less than a handful of Google Certified Educators and only one Google Certified Trainer in the district, I meditated for a while on how to get the most returns on GAFE Training.  What I designed was both in-person and an online options that would meet the needs of the myriad learning styles that existed within the population of educators I worked to support.

Curriculum Design To Maximize Training Potential

The approach taken to maximize training potential for district central staff and teachers on GAFE is differentiated by role.  When a central staff office requests training on any technology, the first thing that I request is a description of the objectives that they must meet on a regular basis.

The technology integration that I nearly always design includes GAFE and resources from the Google Apps Learning Center.  The technology training is focused on how the technology can augment and improve upon how the office is already meeting their objectives.

The approach taken to train teachers districtwide is to maximize potential by building a program that will allow as many teachers as possible to become Google Certified Educators.  Therefore, the curriculum content is the Google for Education Fundamentals Training and Google for Education Advanced Training.


In-Person TrainingTo Maximize Potential

With such a well-written online curriculum, some may question why in-person training options should be made available. Well, learning styles differ.

Many people prefer to have a stronger sense of community when in a learning situation.  To create an in-person training out of the Google online training, I have created documents to allow the course participants to collaborate and create using Google Apps.  I have also built in an inherent dialogue process, and one that allows the teachers to experience lessons created both in Google Classroom and a Google Site.

There are five different in-person training options that are offered to teachers.  One option is a 3-day bootcamp designed to complete Google training, and prepare teachers to be a Google Certified Educator Level 1 if they opt to pay the $10 to take the certification test or a Google Certified Educators Level 2 if they opt to pay the $25 for the certification test.

The other four training options are three and a half hour trainings that address 3 to 4 units of Google Training.  This gives teachers a strong basis in GAFE and gets them a quarter of the way through the curriculum preparing them to be certified if they decide to do that.

Online Training for Maximized Training Potential

While the Google for Education Curriculum is excellent, completion of the training alone does not give participants a certificate of completion.  In order to create a tracking system, I copied the unit assessments of the GAFE Training Curricula into Google Forms, then I used Flubaroo generate an email to participants with their score on the unit assessments.

I instructed all participants to save as PDFs the emails of their unit assessment scores, and put all PDFs in one folder on their Google Drive.  Then in a final Google Form, participants paste a shareable link of this Google Drive folder, and that is how they turn in their work to me.

I wrote all instructions for this credit tracking, and linked all necessary materials in one publicly viewable Google Doc, and shortened the long URL with an easy to remember shorter URL using This simplified my promotion of the accreditation option, and made communication to a large group of people  much simpler.

When I check for completion of all units, Google Drive allows me to flip through the PDFs like images, and quickly assess whether or not a participant passed a unit assessment, and if they completed all units in the training.  I can then award credit in our district credentialing system.

Concluding Remarks

My hope in designing such a professional learning system is to build an each one teach one model, that I briefly described in my blog post on Just-In-Time Support for Instructional Technology.  Our district's professional learning season is just about to kick off, but so far we have had over 200 teachers and staff members sign up to get GAFE trained, half in the in-person sessions and half in the online sessions.

I welcome any questions or comments on the ideas that are outlined in this post.  Please reach out my the contact page.