My relationship with Google has been an uphill battle with some really funny episodes and quirks. I have always been an early adopter of ed-tech, running my own Linux web- and terminal server since 2005 and GAFE from 2009. But then something happened, we moved. I took a new position in a new country. Seven years ago when we moved to China I suddenly realized that services that I had relied on and taken for granted were no longer accessible to me. I knew that the great firewall blocked Facebook and Twitter, but I didn’t know that Google’s services were also targeted. So I learned to use:
- Youtube became Youku
- Google Search became Baidu
- Twitter and Whatsapp became WeChat
- Facebook became QQ
- but most dramatically Gmail just vanished.
For three years I was using these Chinese products until four years ago we moved from behind the great firewall to Thailand. I was reunited with personal Google Experience, but it wasn’t the same, something was different. Most services that I had read about, the new innovations, were not available in my new region. My user experience was still limited by my location, so even though the great firewall wasn’t blocking my freedom I had a new adversary: geoblocking. Invisible borders were drawn by media companies in an effort to limit my freedom to access data. Fortunately, I was quite oblivious to this until 2015 I traveled back to the USA. I was stunned by all the services and innovations that Google had produced while I was away, especially I was impressed by something called ChromeOS and especially the hardware: Chromebooks. I mean I had known about Chrome. I was running Chromium on my Linux laptop and I had played with ChromeOS on my virtual server, but this was my first time using these with all the bells and whistles, and I was sold. Things got immensely better at my school the next academic year as well as our secondary school adopted #GAFE, I literally forced/coerced/convinced our IT department to extend the trial to primary administration (just me) so that they could get authentic data from both primary and secondary as well. To my utmost delight, we then became a G-suite school and everything seemed dandy.
I was happy, I was once again a power user – an early adopter – or so I thought. As I was having fun with the hour of code, robots, and makerspace, becoming an Apple teacher and Microsoft innovative Educator , Google had come up with a certification. To be honest I didn’t pay any attention to it. I was confident that I would learn everything there was about G-Suite just by playing with it, just as I had learned about tech before. But then I had to face the reality, I wasn’t the same learner anymore and Google was bringing new features and apps into the fold at such pace that I had to change my strategy: Google Training Center. Four weeks ago I decided to take my first course on my path towards Google Certification and I found it to be intriguing and fun, I finished the 13 modules almost at one go and on Sep. 24 I passed my first exam. I was so excited and I wanted more! I immediately started my second training and finished in two weeks, and passed my second exam on Oct. 15.
This has been really one of the most useful professional/personal development that I have engaged myself with for a long time. It has had an immense impact on my understanding of how technology can be used as a tool and how we can and should use it. Prior to this, I have had the theory; the vision, but now I do also know how to use ICT as a tool that benefits my own learning and teaching.
Therefore I do encourage all teachers to start this journey, but with your very own pace. Take your time and make sure that you are addressing a genuine need, a need that you have.
Good luck on your journey