Teachers go Googly for tech boost

The Hollister School District is likely the first to be Google certified, with teachers trained on incorporation of the company’s technology into their classrooms.
“We’ve got the technology. We’ve got the access to bandwidth,” said Junior Rayas, the district’s director of information technology. “Now we want to support our teachers.”
About 200 teachers, administrators and other staff members gathered for a six-hour training in June at the start of summer break to learn about Google mail, slides, docs, sheets and the calendar, explained Colleen Myers, the assistant principal for Ladd Lane Elementary School.
“I teach a keyboarding class, so this ties right into what I’m doing in class,” said Mistee Koch, a sixth-grade teacher at Rancho San Justo Middle School who uses technology to teach science and language arts concepts.
Subject matter experts from the nonprofit organization Computer-Using Educators, Inc. led the training at Ladd Lane. The district paid about $25,000 to CUE, plus per diem for participating teachers, Myers and Rayas explained. CUE provided the training but collaborated with Google since the company’s programs were the subject of the professional development, Myers said.
The idea for the training came in January after teachers asked for professional development days that focused on technology, Rayas said. Many districts are moving toward using Google Docs instead of Microsoft Word, the director of information technology said. Google docs have particularly special features, allow collaboration and don’t require paying for licensing the way that Microsoft Word does, he explained.
“It’s gathering more speed,” he said.
The district’s move toward Google products didn’t happen overnight. Teachers got on Gmail— Google hosted email accounts—about two years ago, then started using Google docs, Rayas said. In the 2015-16 school year, the students started to get their own Gmail accounts, he said.
Staff members who participated in the summer training took home a voucher to take a test where they could earn a certificate and an e-badge for their email signatures, Myers explained. Passing the test means earning the title of a “Level 1 Certified Educator,” she said.
“It’s just something they can put on their resume,” the assistant principal said.
The training was optional for principals and teachers, but many chose to participate. Members of the district’s nutrition and migrant education departments were also present, she said. About 170 teachers participated, Rayas said. That means more than half of the district’s teachers participated, a good turnout given the training’s timing on the first day of summer vacation, Myers said.
The goal is to get 100 percent of district staff certified, Myers said. But getting 75 percent of the staff certified would qualify as “entire district training,” she said.

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