Guide: Become a Google Certified Educator


As educators, no matter if we are teachers, teaching assistants, coaches, or administrators, we use technology every day. We send and receive eMail messages; share assignments with students or communicate with parents; schedule appointments; create presentations; create, analyze and share data; and so on. Google for Education is a leader in the field, and the Google for Education suite includes all of these tools for us to utilize.

In this blog entry, I share information about, and resources for two of the four certification processes Google offers to educators:

  • Google Certified Educator- Level 1
  • Google Certified Educator- Level 2
  • Google Certified Trainer
  • Google Certified Innovator

The Google Certified Educator levels 1 and 2 are quite similar (the difference is the number of Google tools and the depth of questions and assignments). The Google Certified Trainer and Innovator are quite different, and so I will leave it for a different time (although I will share some resources at the bottom of this entry.

The Exams

Once registered for the Google Certified Exam (“GCE”) (currently it costs $10 for level 1 and $25 for level 2), test-takers  receive a personal and temporary GAFE account, and are instructed to log in using an incognito window. Once logged in, test-takers are asked to sign some privacy and other agreements, are asked to take a snapshot of themselves (the webcam must stay on for the duration of the exam), and the 3-hour test begins.

Both tests are composed of two-parts. The first includes about 20 multiple choice questions about being an educator in the technological age, as well as questions about the use of Google products (Docs, Sheets, etc.). The second part include a number of authentic scenarios in the lives of teachers in which you must decide which Google tool/s to use and why, and more hands-on “assignments,” such as to create and send assignments to students using Google Classroom, organizing spreadsheets, scheduling appointments in Calendar, and so on. You have a maximum of 3 hours to complete the exam, and are not allowed to stop or pause once the exam started.

Preparing for the Exam

There are several different ways you could prepare for the exam. From experience, I would recommend that in addition to using Google products on a daily basis, you do take the time to at least go through the tutorials. The reason is that Google continuously add new tools and features, which are not always easy to figure out. Getting exposure to them prior to the exam would increase your chances of passing!

The first place to go to is Google’s Training Center, where you will find general information about the certifications Google offers. Once you understand and decide what you’re going for, it wouldn’t hurt to explore the Resources tab where you can find useful and interesting information about different tools, what innovative educators are doing with Google tools, or a place to join one of the many community of Google educators.

The next thing to do is to click on the Training tab, which will take you to the place where you choose which certification to begin training for. you can choose from the Fundamentals (GCE level 1), Advanced (GFE level 2), Devices training (for Chromebooks and Android tablets), or the Trainer training (to become a Google Certified Trainer).

If you are ready to begin studying for the Level 1 (or level 2) exam, click on the Fundamentals Training box to log in and begin the training. Alternatively, you can choose to click here to get more information about the exam, begin training, or register for the exam. All in all, for the level 1 exam, you have 13 units, and for the level 2 exam you need to go through 9 units. At the end of each unit you get a short multiple choice (or fill-in the blanks) assessment to test your skills.

Google’s Training Center is not the only place to get training for these exams, but definitely the place to start!

One last thing. Before you begin, make sure:

  • You have prepared for the exam using one of the GCE preparation tools (if you fail, you can take it again after a month, then after a year);
  • You have a working webcam (don’t have someone else take the exam for you…); and,
  • Your internet connection is adequate (I am teaching in Ethiopia where the connection is quite slow. When my connection timed-out, I was still able to refresh the page and get back to the exam with little time lost)


That’s it. See the resources I complied below to get more information about the certifications and more!

I hope this is helpful.


Certification-related resources:

  • Google has recently acquired Synergyse– a training service. Now you can get a free and innovative, interactive Chrome extension that trains you in Google Apps products.
  • Eric Curtis is an experienced technologist, blogger and trainer. His blog post about the two certifications can give you more information.
  • Kasey Bell‘s ShakeUpLearning blog offers several guides, tools and “cheatsheets” that will help you to get certified. All you have to do is sign up to receive these freebies instantly (by signing up you will receive occasional harmless eMails about technology and education). This is an “all-about-the-certificates” Google Slides presentation she used at the Texas Google Summit.
  • Information about becoming a Google Certified Trainer and Google Certified Innovator.

Other related resources:

SAMR: A Technology Integration Model

When I attended the fantastic Google Apps for Education (GAFE) summit last weekend, I assumed that all participating educators have already encountered the buzzword “SAMR” in one way or another. It was surprising to find out that many educators with at least some experience with technology were not sure what the word means.

SAMR is a technology integration model developed five or so years ago by Dr. Ruben Puentedura. It is designed to help teachers understand and reflect upon how technology is utilized, and to assist educators to better integrate technology into teaching and learning. The model is broken down into two parts- Enhancement and Transformation, and includes four steps: Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition.


Basic level: ENHANCEMENT


At this level, the technology used acts as a substitution for an existing tool, and offers no functional change. For example, typing an essay on a Word Processor and turning it in is not much different than writing it by hand.


At this level, the technology used is still a substitute, but it offers some functional improvement. For example, using the automatic functionalities of a Google Doc instead of a Word Processor. The task is similar, but the file is automatically saved, uploaded, and synched across devices.

Advanced level: TRANFORMATION


Technology use at this level offers significant redesign of tasks. It is used more effectively and efficiently than lower level ones, and there are added functionalities, which improve on existing tasks. For example, instead of typing an essay, users collaborate on a Google Doc, sharing ideas and commenting on each other’s work.


At this level, the technology is used to create new products that were impossible without the technology. An example would be groups of high school students in different parts of the world collaborating on a research project using Google Docs to chat and share comments, and the extension Kaizena Mini to provide each other with audio feedback. Without these tools, such collaborative project would probably have not taken place.

Kathy Schrock made interesting observations on how SAMR and Bloom’s Taxonomy go together, and came up with this diagram:

SAMR and Bloom


Here is an image which would hopefully better illustrate how different tasks are used across the four levels:


Since Puentedura’s model first came out, many techie educators have been working hard to create a simple yet convenient and attractive models. I particularly like version 4 of the interactive SAMR wheel:
SAMR Wheel v4


Some resources to learn more: Common Sense Media’s fantastic explanation videos are well-known. This one has a clear explanation about SAMR. Dr. Puentedura’s weblog. Lots of interesting information and data not only about SAMR, but about many other education and technology topics. And this is a PDF about SAMR in the classroom (mostly diagrams). Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything site. Offers more information on the SAMR model with links to Dr. Puentedura’s work. Here is a Pinterest page with some interesting links about SAMR and tech integration.