The Educator's PLN

The personal learning network for educators

I recently earned my Google Level 2 Certification, and it felt great, but I'm just as proud earning my Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert Badge for this year too. I like to say that I'm bilingual: I speak Google and Office. Both prove I met certain requirements, but they proved it in different ways.

You can earn your Google Certification anytime you want, just pay the $25 and you have three hours to complete the test.

The MIE Badge is only awarded once a year so you have a long time to complete the tasks, but if you miss the deadline you’re out of luck. I submitted my application 15 minutes before the midnight deadline, cause I’m organized and efficient. I knew about the deadline for MONTHS, yet there I am cramming like it’s a final for a class. I’ll never change.

The Google Test is a bunch of multiple choice questions and a pile of specific tasks you need to complete. Get enough correct, and you’re in. Don’t assume this test is easy-it’s not. You may be great at some Google products, but you need to know enough about ALL of them to pass. Google does provide all sorts of study materials and sample questions to prepare for the test, so if you do your homework you can pass it. I didn’t pass Level 2 the first time, you can read about my humiliation here.

Microsoft has a bunch of courses that you can take, just complete a certain amount of them. You watch videos, or complete interactive tasks, and there’s usually a short quiz at the end. The quiz will tell you whether you got the questions right or wrong as you go, and you can retake the quizzes if you don’t pass the first time. There’s over 100 different courses and badges you can earn along the way. The final piece for their certification is to create a two-minute video or Sway on how this process has influenced you and how you will implement what you’ve learned in your classroom.

Both methods of assessment were effective in their own way. I proved I can do specific tasks and had specific knowledge of Google products, but Microsoft just wanted to make sure I knew about all the things that were available to me and how I can be a better 21st century teacher for my students. I only really had to prove what I knew by creating a Sway, which are very cool things, by the way.

The Google test gives you the results within seconds, the longest few seconds of your life.

The Microsoft results were released a month after the deadline.

The Google Badge email shows up a day later, the Microsoft Badge shows up with the congratulations email.

The Google Certification is a personal thing, you earn it for your own gratification.  

The Microsoft Badge is a global event. If you are connected to Microsoft in any of the many social media ways you can be, you will see that people in India, Germany and Mexico got their badges the same day you did. It made this planet feel a lot smaller seeing proud teachers from all around the world showing off the same badge as you.

So, I have my nerd cred from both Google and Microsoft. I learned a lot from both processes, and I am a much better teacher for it. It’s vital that teachers remain students, it’s the only way we learn.

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