About a year ago, I came across impressive resources on Google Apps for Education provided by Jeff Utecht on The Thinking Stick website titled, “Become a Google Apps Ninja.” Now I had heard educators having the ability to become Google Certified, a program I would like to complete myself, however the concept of opening this up to students blew my mind. My first thought was, “how can I get this program into my school?” Having students develop online search skills as well has the ability to communicate (online) and troubleshoot is nearly as important as the underlying material the students will learn. Giving students the ability to “fish” will open many more doors with technology. I was sold instantly.
Now resources to become Google certified are available to the public, however there is a $75 cost associated with taking the necessary exams. Brilliantly, Jeff, along with many other educators, created and now maintains a series of student-friendly quizzes using Google Forms. The real kicker is that any educator is allowed to adapt and use the open-source Google Ninja program under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical-ShareAlike 3.0 License.
After getting through some of the typical bumps in a school year that postponed starting the program sooner, over the Christmas break, I recently adapted the resources Jeff provided for my fifth through eighth grade students at the Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter Public School. Students are about to begin the program, which along with some other exciting initiatives, will be apart of the Digital Learning Day activities at school on February 5th. The Google Ninja Program will allow me to engage students and meet them where they are.
For our Google Ninja Program, I decided on four, core Google products: Gmail, Drive, Calendars and Search. After our students complete the online quizzes, using the Google script Flubaroo, scores are graded and emailed to each student and a scoreboard will be updated. Once students complete four quizzes on each product, for a total of 16-quizzes, they will earn a pizza party in June, along with a t-shirt and certificate of completion. If this program is successful, offering an in-school elective to earn the official Google Apps certification would be the next step.
Needless to say, it is exciting to be apart of a community willing to share resources and I’m happy to promote and re-share the resources with my students and our school community. If you are a district looking to roll-out a Google Apps for Education program with students and/or faculty, modifying the resources and creating a Google Ninja Program would be an excellent introduction.