2021 Summer IT Summit and Showcase

Splash into summer with several half-days of networking and professional learning for IT staff! Join technology leaders, support staff, and colleagues in June for the LTC’s IT Summer Summit and Showcase. Session and workshop topics have been carefully to meet the needs of today’s education IT staff – including Google, Microsoft, cybersecurity, imaging, inventory, patching, backup, recovery, open-source solutions, firewalls, content filters, eSports, and more.

This is your opportunity to explore new tools and strategies needed to support and improve your district’s technology infrastructure. Best of all, you can get an early start on summer technology projects by networking with others who may be undertaking similar projects in their districts.

Resources and Reminders for 2021 License Renewal

With April now in full swing, many educators around Illinois are making plans to round out the school year on a high note. At the same time, Illinois’ teachers shouldn’t forget about another important professional process that they may need to take part in before the next school year begins – state license renewal.

The Illinois State Board of Education opened the window for this year’s license renewal cycle on April 1, 2021. While Illinois teachers are not required to renew every year, many will need to go through the process this year, depending on when they first earned or previously renewed their license. Educators looking to start the process can visit ISBE’s renewal portal for information on how to login and upload relevant credential materials.

As always, the Learning Technology Center is here to support Illinois educators as they work to maintain their certified status. Throughout the year, we offer a variety of in-person, virtual, and self-guided professional development options – many of which can be counted as licensure PD credit. Read on to learn about some of our current PD resources that can help you round out your license renewal application in no time.

Deadlines & Need-to-Knows

Here are a few of the deadlines and need-to-know details that you should keep in mind heading into this year’s teacher license renewal process:

  • Illinois educators may begin applying for licensure renewal on April 1, 2021
  • All Illinois Professional Educator Licenses (PEL) must be renewed by August 31, 2021
  • No license cycle extensions due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will be offered this year (as was offered in 2020)
  • PEL with teaching endorsement renewal still requires 120 hours of documented PD, as well a fee ($10 for one year or $50 for a five-year cycle)
  • PEL with administration endorsement renewal still requires 100 hours of documented PD, 1 Admin Academy (AA) credit per fiscal year, and a fee ($10 for one year or $50 for a five-year cycle)

Has Anything Changed for 2021?

In 2020, some one-time changes were made to the ISBE educator license renewal process (including license extensions) to account for education system disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. While that pandemic is still ongoing, ISBE is now transitioning back to its regular licensure renewal process for 2021.

As such, current educators should follow ISBE’s standard renewal process if they wish to remain certified by the state. Answers to specific questions pertaining to the 2021 renewal process can be found here.

Professional Development Resources for Educators

Professional development is a key part of Illinois’ educator license renewal process. Those seeking renewal can satisfy their licenses’ professional development requirements through a few different channels, including in-service learning, mentoring, online courses, webinars, and more.

In particular, many educators today are opting to make edtech part of their personal professional development plans. If you’re looking to learn more about the latest education-centered digital learning tools and earn some PD credit along the way, consider checking out some of these free LTC resources:

LTC Online Courses

Fitting PD into your busy schedule can be challenging, especially if you are balancing a remote or hybrid teaching schedule. Fortunately, the LTC offers a variety of free online courses that can easily slot into your schedule. With courses covering topics ranging from Google Forms and Google Drive to Microsoft Teams and Keynote for Mac, you’re sure to learn something new from these carefully curated, self-guided lessons.

All of the LTC’s online courses can be started at any time. However, current class offerings will close on May 31, 2021. Learn more about some of our most popular courses here.

LTC Webinar Series

Throughout the year, the LTC hosts webinars on some of the most popular and pertinent edtech topics. That includes sessions on everything from Jamboard and flipped classroom basics to 3D printing and Makerspaces. Live attendees at these webinars are often awarded PD credit, so don’t miss these chances to learn something new from the LTC’s team of edtech experts.

Customized In-District Professional Development

As a statewide leader in educational technology professional development, the LTC offers educational institutions across Illinois an opportunity to host workshops, courses, and more with the support of our team of regional coordinators. Schools and districts can choose from an existing catalogue of offered courses or work with our team to create a new training geared specifically toward your faculty’s needs.

The LTC’s in-district PD comes at a great bargain, too. As a program of the Illinois State Board of Education, many of our in-district PD opportunities are offered at little to no cost.

Interested in learning more? Visit our “In-District Workshops” page or contact your local Regional Educational Technology Coordinator.

Professional Development Resources for Administrators

In addition to professional development credit, those seeking to renew their Illinois educator license as an administrator will need to also obtain 1 Administrator Academy (AA) credit. AA courses are offered by a variety of organizations in Illinois and can help administrators learn new skills and knowledge relevant to their leadership position.

The LTC’s team of Regional Educational Technology Coordinators (RETCs) can help bring an Admin Academy course to your institution or local Regional Office of Education office. Contact your local RETC to learn more.

Admin Academies are also offered by several other prominent Illinois educational organizations, including the Illinois Principals Association (IPA) and the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools (IARSS). Check out their websites to learn more about their upcoming offerings.

More Resources for Illinois Educator License Renewal

The Illinois State Board of Education has also put together a collection of useful resources geared towards educators seeking license renewal support. You can also find many of these over on ISBE’s license renewal hub:

ISBE has also created several video guides to help educators navigate the renewal process and associated online platform:

Your local Regional Office of Education (ROE) or Intermediate Service Center (ISC) can also be a great resource while working through your educator license renewal. To learn more about your local ROE or ISC’s services or to find your closest ROE or ISC, check out ISBE’s interactive ROE and ISC map.

How to Become a Google Certified Coach

This year, Google is premiering a brand-new certification that is geared toward helping schools and districts build and sustain their edtech integration over the long-term. Known as the Certified Coach program, this latest certification can help existing instructional technology coaches grow their understanding of Google’s services and apply their knowledge while supporting their institution’s teaching goals.

But how do you become a Google Certified Coach? Is there a special curriculum or test you need to take? Do you need Educator certifications to become a Certified Coach? We’ll answer those questions and more in this step-by-step guide to becoming a Google Certified Coach.

What is a Google Certified Coach?

At their core, a Google Certified Coach is an individual who has, through participation in a tailored education program, grown their coaching toolkit and gained a deeper understanding of Google’s educational offerings. Google Certified Coaches are able to more effectively support educators in their school or district in turn, whether they use just a couple Google apps or have fully integrated with Google Workspace for Education.

Who should become a Google Certified Coach?

Google has shaped the curriculum and content of their Certified Coach program with current technology coaches in mind. In other words, individuals who spend the majority of their time supporting edtech integration and working 1:1 with educators will be best suited for this certification program. Those looking to learn research-backed strategies for improving their coaching practices will also be well-served by the Google Certified Coach Program.

How Does a Google Certified Coach Differ from Google’s Other Education Certification?

Currently, Google offers a wide variety of education- and professional development-oriented certification opportunities. Most notable among these are the Google Educator certifications, which focus on classroom implementation of Google’s apps and services. The Google Certified Coach Program differs from these because it focuses on practical coaching strategies, rather than teaching strategies alone.

Along the same lines, the Google Certified Coach Program differs from both the Google Trainer and Google Innovator certification programs. In particular, the Google Certified Coach Program focuses on teaching participants 1:1 coaching strategies, while the Trainer Program teaches experts how to deliver 1:many professional development experiences. Meanwhile, the Google Innovator program does not focus on professional learning at all, and instead centers on teaching participants to lead innovative education projects in their school or district.

Why Become a Google Certified Coach?

Becoming a Google Certified Coach comes with a variety of benefits, both for the individual and the institution they serve.

For example, instructional coaches who participate in this program walk away with a great deal of up-to-date knowledge on Google service utilization best practices. New Google Certified Coaches will also learn about an innovative 5-step coaching system that can help them enhance their 1:1 work with teachers in the near term. Taken together, these new skills and knowledge can help new and veteran coaches alike become more robust in their support role.

Also, current instructional coaches have an opportunity to gain distinction through the Google Certified Coach Program. In particular, this program provides successful candidates with a credential that allows them to communicate specialization within their team or demonstrate their commitment to continuously growing their coaching competency.

Larger institutions, including schools and districts, have a lot to gain through the Google Certified Coach Program as well. With an in-district Google Certified Coach, for example, teachers and administrators gain access to the latest insights from a member of a nationwide coaching community. Through their Certified Coach, districts also gain access to special professional development opportunities and timely updates on all Google for Education topics.

How to Become a Google Certified Coach

Becoming a Google Certified Coach does require some investment of your time. However, the payoff at the end is well worth it if you are looking to take your skills as an instructional coach to the next level.

Follow these steps and you’ll find yourself a newly-minted Google Certified Coach in no time!

Note: These steps are accurate as of March 2021. This certification process, its requirements, and its cost are subject to change in the future.

Step 1 – Complete the Curriculum

First, certification candidates will need to participate in and complete Google’s Coach Certification curriculum. This curriculum is tailor-made with current coaches in mind, providing them with a research-backed 5-step coaching model and other effective coaching strategies that they can actively implement while working through the certification process.

In terms of structure, the Coach Certification curriculum is made up of several modules, each tackling several competencies required for successful implementation of new coaching strategies in the field. Each of these modules is followed by a series of knowledge check questions as well as opportunities to reflect on the personal progress.

In total, Google estimates that this curriculum takes about 20 hours to complete. However, each module is designed to be completed at a different time of year (IE before the start of the fall semester, during spring break, etc.) So, the total number of hours should not be viewed as contiguous.

In any case, this curriculum is entirely self-guided. As a result, candidates may read through and review curricular content at any time, including while they are preparing for their certification assessment.

Step 2 – Earn Google Educator Level 1 and Level 2 Certifications

If you have not already, Coach certification candidates will next need to obtain Google Educator Level 1 and Level 2 certification. These certifications cover the fundamentals of utilizing Google services and apps in the classroom, making them must-know content for folks looking to coach current educators on implementation best practices.

Many Certified Coach candidates already possess these certifications. It is recommended that you double-check these credentials while working through the Certified Coach curriculum so that a current proof of completion can be added to your Coaching portfolio in a later step.

Also, obtaining Educator Level 1 and Level 2 certifications is neither a prerequisite for starting the Certified Coach program, nor a prerequisite for taking the Coach Skills assessment. However, they are highly recommended because they offer a solid foundation of knowledge that the Coach curriculum focuses on and the Coach Skills test assesses. In any case, you will need proof of both certifications when it comes time to submit your final Coaching portfolio.

Step 3 – Pass the Coach Skills Assessment

After completing the Certified Coach curriculum, certification candidates must successfully pass the Coach Skills assessment. This exam is designed to test a candidate’s knowledge and understanding of the Certified Coach curriculum, including its 5-step coaching cycle.

As with most Google certification exams, the precise content of this test can change from instance to instance. However, it is always made up of around 45 questions, which candidates have 45 minutes to complete. Candidates will need to score an 80% or better to pass, with results provided instantly.

At this time, there is no cost to take this exam. As such, candidates are encouraged to retake the exam if they do not successfully pass it on their first attempt.

Step 4 – Submit a Coaching Portfolio

After passing the Coach Skills assessment, certification candidates will be required to submit a Coaching portfolio that provides evidence to implementation of curricular content in the field.

In particular, this portfolio must include a short video and three artifacts that demonstrate the candidate’s implementation of the 5-step coaching cycle and other curricular elements in a real-life coaching scenario. These items must also be accompanied by a letter of reference supplied by an administrator or other advisor that is familiar with the candidate’s coaching work.

After these elements are all compiled, they must be submitted to Google for final approval. Upon review and acceptance, Google will issue all relevant certification credentials, as well as information about maintaining Certified status on an annual basis.

Supporting your Google Certification Journey

Throughout your professional learning journey, the Learning Technology Center (LTC) is here to support you as you strive to make high-quality technology coaching available to more educators. Currently, we offer a variety of webinars and networking meetings that can help you build the knowledge and connections you need to thrive in the field.

As a Google Cloud Partner, we also routinely offer training opportunities centered on Google’s latest products and services. We can even help you or the teachers you work with earn a Google Educator certification.

Schools and districts interested in adding an instructional technology coach to their team can also find support through the LTC. Through a unique cost-sharing model, we are currently offering institutions an opportunity to hire their own embedded instructional technology support through our Instruction Technology Coaching Program.

Looking to Learn More about Becoming a Google Certified Coach?

Several members of the LTC team – myself included – have recently completed the Google Certified Coach Program. If you have questions about the program or you’re interested in learning more about my experience, you can contact me, Elizabeth Byam, at ebyam@ltcillinois.org.

Jump Start your Professional Learning with a FREE LTC Online Course

No matter how you look at it, today’s educators are busy people. Planning new lessons, assessing student performance, communicating with parents – and that’s not to mention managing a remote or hybrid classroom. With so many tasks on their plate, even the most organized teachers can find it hard to fit professional learning into their schedule outside of regular in-service days.

Here at the Learning Technology Center (LTC), we understand this dilemma. As part of our mission to support Illinois schools through technology initiatives and professional learning opportunities, we want to make learning new classroom-ready skills easy and intuitive.

That’s why we offer a variety of online courses covering topics from Google Forms and Google Drive to Microsoft Teams and Keynote for Mac. Many of these courses are free to join and are entirely self-paced, meaning that you can engage with the coursework on your own schedule. Plus, when you’re finished, you’ll earn PD hours that can count toward your annual licensure renewal!

Interested in learning more? Check out some of our most popular online courses and enroll today over on our “Online Courses” page!

Our Most Popular Courses

Already, hundreds of educators from across Illinois have taken part in one of our numerous self-guided online courses. Here are some of their favorites – many of which can help educators at any grade level enhance their remote or hybrid classroom:

Create Digital Assessments with Google Forms

Self-Paced / 1.5 PD Hours / Free

Most people know Google Forms as an information gathering app. However, this free app can also be used to assess student performance, both during in-person and remote instruction. In this course, participants will learn everything K-12 educators need to know about building forms specifically for formative and summative assessments. Participants will also learn how to distribute these assessments via an LMS (such as Google Classroom) as well as how to analyze student data generated by their assessment forms.

Move Your Class Online with Google Classroom

Self-Paced / 1.5 PD Hours / Free

When it comes to shifting a classroom online, many educators face a learning curve related to digital documents organization. For those utilizing G Suite for Education, Google Classroom is the solution. In this course, participants will learn how to create an organized workflow using this platform as well as how to:

  • Create and manage a class of students
  • Create and share digital files with students
  • Provide feedback to students
  • Understand the ways Google Classroom connects with 3rd party applications

Google Drive Basics

Self-Paced / 1.5 PD Hours / Free

Is your Google Drive a mess? Do you struggle to find your files in a timely manner? This course will help you get your Google Drive in shape in no time. In this course, participants will learn to effectively navigate Google Drive and organize their files in a system that makes sense to them. Participants will also learn about Google Drive’s special features, including ownership permissions, editing privileges, sharing settings, and more!

Up-and-Coming Favorites

The LTC also offers a variety of online courses on new and emerging topics. Here are just a few courses that educators across the spectrum utilize to stay up-to-date on the latest edtech software:

Meet the New Google Meet

Self-Paced / 1 PD Hour / Free

In this course, participants will become acquainted with Google Meet, a popular solution for facilitating remote and hybrid classrooms. In particular, participants will walk away from this course with the ability to:

  • Join and host Google Meet online video conferences
  • Manage participants in a Google Meet conference
  • Improve the quality of Google Meet conferences and associated presentation tools
  • Use Google Meet in a variety of classroom and remote learning activities

Get to Know Microsoft Teams

Self-Paced / 1.5 PD Hours / Free

While businesses around the world have already embraced the powerful connectivity potential of Microsoft Teams, many schools and districts are still learning precisely how this app can be used as a hub for educational communication. This course will teach participants how to leverage this platform in an educational setting by introducing them to each of the app’s most useful, education-centered features.

Keep It All Together with OneNote

Self-Paced / 2 PD Hours / Free

Microsoft’s free OneNote platform provides a versatile set of tools for student note-taking. It can also be an outstanding platform for creating student-centered texts that support in-person and remote learning activities. In this course, participants will learn how to get started with OneNote as well as some practical ways to apply their command of OneNote in the classroom.

Opportunities for Administrators

While many of the LTC’s online courses are geared toward teachers and instructors, we also offer professional learning options for administrators. Here’s one of our most popular online courses among current school and district administrators:

Cybersecurity for Administrators

Self-Paced / 2 PD Hours / Free (for IPA Members)

Cybersecurity threats are everywhere today, making it imperative for school districts to stay up-to-date on the latest prevention and response techniques. This course will help school and district administrators understand the nature of these contemporary threats, as well as what they can do to prevent their institutional networks from falling victim to an unauthorized intrusion or data breach.

This course was created in partnership with the Ed Leaders Network, the Illinois Department of Innovation & Technology, and the Illinois Principals Association. Principals who are IPA members may take the course for free. Meanwhile, educators at Ed Leadership Network schools can participate in a similar, teacher-focused course for free.

Learning for Parents and Caregivers

During this time of remote and hybrid learning, many parents and caregivers have had to step up to support their children’s day-to-day educational needs. The LTC has created the following online course to fill this need, ensuring that parents and caregivers have the knowledge they need to keep their child on the right track:

Parenting in a Pandemic: Brain-Based SEL for Caregivers

Self-Paced / 0 PD Hours / Free

Supporting your remote or hybrid learning student can be a challenge. But one of the best ways to facilitate at-home virtual learning is by establishing a learning space in your home. In this course, parents and caregivers will learn how to do that as well as incorporate social-emotional learning skills, like self-regulation, into their child’s daily learning routines.

Micro-credentials – A New Horizon for Professional Learning

Online courses aren’t your online option for acquiring new professional skills remotely. Micro-credentials are also becoming increasingly popular, with many participants prizing their ability to offer customized feedback and research-based content – all in a self-directed and personalized format.

The LTC is currently piloting its own micro-credentialing program, which is open to the public. Any and all interested educators are welcome to join the remaining sessions, all of which focus on different aspects of remote learning:

  • Managing Remote Learning Experiences – Begins February 22, 2021
  • Designing Remote Learning Experiences – Begins March 1, 2021
  • Supporting Students with Special Needs during Remote Learning – Begins March 8, 2021
  • Feedback and Assessment during Remote Learning – Begins March 15, 2021

To learn more about the research behind micro-credentials and to sign up for our pilot program, check out this recent blog post.

Supporting your Professional Learning Journey

Whatever direction your professional learning journey takes, the LTC is here to support you. Besides our catalogue of free online courses, the LTC also offers an assortment of webinars and regional workshops geared toward keeping educators at the top of their game. The LTC’s highly-trained team is also available for in-district training, which can be customized to fit the needs of your school or district’s faculty.

How to Become a Google Certified Educator

Today, educators at all grade levels and across all subject areas have a wide variety of options when it comes to growing their professional skill set. In-person workshops, online courses, micro-credentials, and more are all great ways to acquire fresh, classroom-ready skills in the near term.

However, certifications remain a reliable standard for most teachers. With just a bit of time and effort, a qualified certification can help an educator gain distinction in their career and demonstrate that they are continuously focused on enhancing their capacity to teach effectively.

Without a doubt, Google’s several Educator certifications are among the most popular today, particularly in this era of remote and hybrid learning. These certifications focus on building mastery within Google’s suite of education-centered apps, including Google Classroom, Google Forms, and Google Drive.

But how exactly do you become “Google Educator Certified”? And why should you strive for Google Educator certification in the first place? You’ll find answers to these and other common questions in this handy guide to becoming Google Educator Certified.

Why Earn Google Educator Certifications?

There are plenty of great reasons to seek out Google Educator certifications. First and foremost, there’s inherent value in sharpening your craft. New and veteran teachers alike need to continuously learn to stay at the top of their game, and Google Educator certifications are one way to make that learning both streamlined and productive.

Along the same lines, nearly all educators today incorporate digital technologies into their standard curriculum (even outside the context of remote and hybrid learning). Some platforms, like Google’s suite of education-centered apps, come with a learning curve that must be overcome before full integration can occur. Google Educator certifications help lower that learning curve noticeably by focusing on precisely the skills and knowledge you need to succeed in a Google-connected classroom.

Of course, there are also some more concrete reasons for choosing Google Educator certifications. As with most credentials, successful participants earn a special, level-appropriate badge and the right to call themselves a “Google Certified Educator.” Successful participants also gain a bonafide credential that can help them achieve upward mobility on their career path.

Google Educator certifications aren’t just appealing to individual educators, though. Administrators and department heads can also encourage their faculty to earn these certifications to facilitate more consistent utilization of Google’s apps and services. This, in turn, can help schools and districts achieve their primary tech integration goals – especially if those goals center on fully integrating Google hardware and software.

How to Become a Google Certified Educator

Believe it or not, becoming a Google Certified Educator is a very achievable goal that educators at any grade level and in any subject area can achieve. All it takes is an appetite for learning – not to mention a couple classes and exams.

To start, you’ll want to generally familiarize yourself with each of Google’s education-centered applications. After doing that, you’ll be ready to take a Google Educator Level 1 certification class, which helps you solidify skills for using Google Drive, Google Forms, Google Classroom, and more.

With that course completed, you’ll be prepared to take the Google Educator Level 1 certification exam. This exam is designed to test your broad proficiency with Google’s apps and services in a concise, digital format. This test can be taken as many times as necessary and does not require participants to have taken part in a Google Educator Level 1 certification class prior to completion.

Once you pass that exam, you’ll officially earn the title of “Google Certified Educator,” along with its associated credential and badge. However, your learning journey need not end there. Though optional, educators can choose to deepen their understanding of Google’s apps and services through a Google Educator Level 2 certification.

Like the Level 1 certification, a Level 2 certification involves taking part in a multi-hour class before participating in a proctored online exam. However, the Level 2 certification focuses on more specific use cases for Google’s most popular apps. By participating in and passing the Level 2 certification process, educators can double their level of understanding when it comes to the Google for Education suite.

If you do complete your Level 2 certification, you’ll still be considered a “Google Certified Educator,” without any new title. However, you will receive a second credential and badge that can act as evidence of your ongoing professional development.

What Google Educator Courses Do I Need to Take to Earn Certification?

In order to earn certification, an educator is not required to take any content-specific courses relating to Google’s apps or services. Currently, educators only need to participate in and pass the exam correlated to their level of certification.

That being said, the vast majority of educators do choose to take a relevant certification course prior to sitting for a certification exam. Accordingly, intermediate users tend to take part in a Google Educator Level 1 course while more advanced users opt for a Google Educator Level 2 course.

Who Teaches Google Educator Certification Courses?

In most cases, Google Educator Certification courses are taught by Google Certified Trainers. These are individuals who have taken their own training through Google and learned what it takes to support teachers through the certification process. Often, these Certified Trainers will teach small-to-medium sized groups – either in a workshop or in-service format – to maximize a school or district’s ability to widely implement Google’s platform.

Do I Need to Complete Level 1 Certification to Participate in Level 2 Certification?

No, you do not. Despite their names, Google Educator Level 1 and Level 2 certifications are not designed as a ladder for you to climb. Rather, you can participate in either level of certification at your discretion without prerequisites. However, most participants still seek out Level 1 certification before Level 2 certification because the skills in each build off of one another.

How Long Does a Google Educator Certification Last?

Both the Google Educator Level 1 and Level 2 certifications last for 36 months (3 years). After that time, certified educators will need to retake the appropriate test to maintain their title.

Will I need to Take any Tests to Earn Google Educator Certification?

Yes, each level of Google Educator certification requires participants to take and pass an exam. Each of these exams evaluate participant’s competency in different skills related to the utilization of Google’s assorted apps and services.

What is the Format for Google Educator Certification Exams?

As far as format is concerned, both the Level 1 and Level 2 exams respectively consist of 20 multiple choice/drag-and-drop questions and 10 “scenario” questions. Scenario questions require participants to demonstrate their ability to complete a certain task satisfactorily using one or more Google apps. All test questions must be completed within a set time limit, which stands at 180 minutes for both the Level 1 and Level 2 exams.

To pass either the Level 1 or Level 2 exam, a participant must earn an 80%. However, if this threshold is not achieved, a participant may retake the exam after waiting 14 days. Meanwhile, a third attempt will require a 60 day wait, and a fourth attempt requires participants to wait a full year.

What Content should I Expect on the Google Educator Certification Exam?

Both the Google Educator Level 1 and Level 2 certification exams cover different content, requiring participants to study and practice different material before sitting for each. The specific content on each exam varies as well, with Google requiring all participants to sign an NDA concerning each test’s questions and answers.

However, past test-takers have noticed some trends in what content is covered on each exam. The Google Educator Level 1 certification exam, for example, tends to include more questions about Google Classroom, Google Forms, Google Sheets, and YouTube. However, any and all apps in the G Suite for Education may be covered on the exam, so participants should study as broadly as possible. 

Do I Have to Pay to take the Google Educator Certification Exam?

Yes, Google requires those seeking Google Educator certifications to pay a fee to take the associated exams. Currently, those fees are set at $10 for the Level 1 certification exam and $25 for the Level 2 certification exam.

However, some certification prep classes offer vouchers to participants that can waive these fees. As such, those seeking certification are encouraged to take these classes both to sharpen their skills and save a bit of cash.

What are some Tips or Tricks for taking the Google Educator Certification Exam?

While studying and practicing are the two best ways to prepare for the Google Educator certification exams, we also recommend checking out these tips and tricks for passing your exam on the first try.

Google Educator Certification and the LTC

Regardless of whether you are brand new to the education field or have spent your entire career in the classroom, Google Educator certifications can help you improve the way you teach. The certification process is very manageable as well, as long as you prepare properly and persevere while learning about all of Google’s education-centered apps and services.

However, you don’t need to go it alone when it comes time to seek out Google Educator certifications. The LTC offers schools and districts across Illinois the opportunity to learn the skills and knowledge needed to achieve certification through a variety of regional workshops. Those looking for customized in-district professional development centered on Google Educator certification can also find support from the LTC’s team of highly-trained staff.

Micro-Credentials: New Horizons for Professional Learning

There’s no two ways around it – the old “sit-and-get” method of professional development isn’t suited to the needs of today’s educators. Not only does that format tend to result in passive learning, but it also doesn’t offer teachers enough agency in their professional learning journey.

Fortunately, a new trend in professional learning is making it easier for teachers to hone their skills and meet their own personal goals at the same time. Micro-credentials have gained traction over the past several years, and they may become your go-to method for acquiring new professional skills in the near future.

But what exactly is a “micro-credential”? More importantly, how can a micro-credential help you master a new classroom-ready skill?

With micro-credentialing on the horizon for Illinois educators, now’s the right time to learn what this innovative professional learning method has to offer.

What is a Micro-credential?

At a basic level, a micro-credential is a condensed course of study that allows a participant to narrowly focus on a skill or set of skills within a chosen field. As their name suggests, a micro-credential typically allows a participant to attain a certifiable credential, often in the form of a badge or transcript notation.

However, there’s more to a micro-credential’s DNA than just a badge and a few hours of learning. Here are just a few factors that set micro-credentials apart from other methods of professional learning:

Focused on Specific, Observable Skills

“Sit-and-get” professional development typically focuses on sharing knowledge with participants. Rarely do they offer participants the opportunity to actually apply what they are learning in real time.

Micro-credentials, on the other hand, offer participants a chance to practice the skills they are learning almost immediately. Micro-credential stacks typically last for several weeks, allowing participants time to implement what they’ve learned in the classroom and ask questions of their instructor as they go along.

At the same time, micro-credentials tend to focus on a specific skill or set of skills. This allows them to dig deep and offer participants a chance to gain an adaptable understanding of the subject at hand. In turn, participants walk away with a greater capacity to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom without any delay.


Along the same lines, micro-credentials don’t take a participant’s understanding of the central topic as a given. Instead, a micro-credential provides participants an opportunity to demonstrate their mastery before walking out of the digital classroom door.

For example, a micro-credential instructor may ask a participant to supply artifacts of their skill implementation before the stack concludes. This ensures that the instructor is able to offer feedback and suggestions to the participant while they are still in the process of solidifying their competency.

Job-Embedded and Research-Based

Due to their focused nature, micro-credentials often offer an opportunity to master a skill that you can actually use on the job. Most micro-credential stacks offered by education organizations relate directly to classroom practices. So, you won’t be left guessing how you’ll use what you learned when it comes time to step back into the classroom.

Most micro-credentials are also focused on well-researched skills and concepts. As a result, they typically have a demonstrable impact in the classroom, based upon prior implementation by other educators. Your participation in a micro-credential will allow you to harness that research in the short-term, potentially leading to better outcomes for your students.

Personalized and Self-directed

One of the most marked trends in education right now centers around offering students agency and choice in the ways they learn. So, why shouldn’t educators be offered a similar level of agency when it comes time to hone their craft?

Micro-credentials do just that by providing educators clear choices about which knowledge and skills they attain. Participants are often encouraged to work through an entire stack, but they also have the option of participating in only the segments that pique their interest. Either way, educators will be engaging in a personalized professional learning experience like no other.

Along the same lines, micro-credentials offer participants more flexibility when it comes to actually sitting down and engaging with course content. That’s because many micro-credential stacks offer a mix of synchronous and asynchronous participation options. As a result, teachers are able to more effectively pursue professional learning on their own schedule.

What is a Micro-credential “Stack”?

On the surface, a micro-credential may look like an online course you’ve participated in before. However, there are several noteworthy differences that allow micro-credentials to be more flexible when it comes to their facilitation.

Generally speaking, a micro-credential is much shorter in length. Many education-related micro-credentials can be completed over the course of several weeks, rather than several months.

Also, micro-credentials are arranged into “stacks.” A stack is usually made up of three or more modules that are united by a common thread or goal. When a participant completes every module in a stack satisfactorily, they become eligible for the badge associated with that micro-credential.

This chart provides a closer look at how a micro-credential stack breaks down to its essential elements:

Who is using Micro-credentials?

Micro-credentials have become increasingly popular over the past several years, particularly in the education field. Numerous professional development providers have jumped on this trend and added micro-credentialing options to their catalogue of offerings.

Some of the most popular micro-credential providers currently include:

·  Digital Promise

·  BloomBoard

·  Future Learn

·  The Friday Institute

·  National Education Association

Micro-credentials and the LTC

Here at the LTC, we are constantly working to stay on the forefront of professional learning in the education field. That’s why we’re currently working on a micro-credentialing program of our own that can serve the needs of Illinois’ PK-12 educators.

Our first micro-credential stack is nearly complete, with an anticipated launch in Spring 2021. This first stack will focus on remote learning and will cover the following topics:

  • Understanding Remote Learning
  • Teaching Digital Citizenship & Internet Safety 
  • Importance of Social-Emotional Learning during Remote Learning 
  • Designing Remote Learning Experiences
  • Managing Remote Learning Experiences
  • Supporting Special Needs in Remote Learning
  • Remote Feedback and Assessment

This remote learning stack’s components will last roughly 6 hours each and will feature equal amounts of synchronous and asynchronous learning. All elements of this stack are aligned to ISTE and Learning Forward standards and will offer opportunities for virtual coaching and feedback.

Currently, we are recruiting educators who would like to participate in a pilot edition of this remote learning micro-credential stack. If you are interested in participating and receiving full credit for this micro-credential, let us know by filling out this form.

Further Readings on Micro-credentials

Interested in learning more about micro-credentials and the research supporting their efficacy? Be sure to check out these further readings and research:

·  How Microcredentials Help Educators Develop New Tech Skills

·  Who’s Completing Microcredentials?

·  Micro-Credentials and Education Policy in the United States

·  Developing a Student-Centered Workforce through Micro-Credentials

I’ve also recently hosted a webinar all about micro-credential basics and the LTC’s pilot program. You can view that webinar on demand here.

Start your Professional Learning Journey with the LTC’s New Education Certification Collection

Over the past several years, certifications have become an increasingly popular option for professional learning in the education field. Everyone from teachers and administrators to tech coaches and support staff can acquire new knowledge and expertise through certifications – often without even needing to leave home or sit through an in-service day.

For many educators, certifications also serve as a great motivator when it comes to perfecting their craft. Many certifications offer a badge or other micro-credential that can be proudly displayed upon completion. Just like a shiny gold star for a student, these small, but noteworthy awards can help provide recognition for professionals that continuously strive for success.

The LTC wants to make the best credentials available to Illinois’ education community. To accomplish that goal, our team has scoured the internet and created this list of certifications, badges, and micro-credentials geared towards educators, administrators, support staff, and more.

To make it easy to find a certification that interests you, we’ve divided this list into several broad categories. Each certification includes a description with links to further information so that you can start your self-paced professional learning journey without any hassle.

Here are just a few of the most popular certifications you can choose from:

To check out our new certifications collection, click here.

You can also access the Education Certification Collection at any time. Simply check the “Resources” dropdown menu above and click on “Education Certifications.”

You can also share the above graphic with your peers on social media. Click here for the full image.

Know a certification that we missed?  Email hkelly@ltcillinois.org and let us know!

New Online Course: Keep It All Together with OneNote

Are you looking for an innovative way to enhance student note-taking capabilities? If you’re like many educators, remote and hybrid learning has revealed your classroom’s need to change up this important learning activity.

OneNote from Microsoft might be the versatile tool you’ve been searching for. This platform, which is already available to many educators, can create classroom notebooks and student-centered texts that help keep all learners on the right track.

Keep It All Together with OneNote (2.0 PD Credits)

OneNote has a lot to offer, which is why the LTC has created a brand new online course designed to help educators make the most of its potential. In this free, self-paced course, participants will learn how to get started with OneNote, as well as how to apply the program’s built-in tools to a variety of classroom environments.

You can register for “Keep It All Together with OneNote” over on the LTC’s Online Courses page. Participants who complete all of the coursework on time are eligible to receive 2 PD hours. Sign up today so that you’re ready to learn when this course opens on November 23, 2020.