You cannot make work transformation happen with just a technology replacement.

@Coursera

Interestingly enough…

…retaking updated courses really can deepen your understanding and skills, imagine that! But to be honest, this is the very first time I’ve actually retaken a course which had this depth of a design overhaul. It definitely gave me an immediate technical confidence boost.

Coursera’s G Suite Administrator Fundamentals course, was the first course of its design back in the day. I usually refresh my skills each time I join a new school – having achieved this particular course-retake twice. Leading digital transformation for schools around the world, means that knowledge and skills acquired through courses like these, are essential to supporting an organization’s transformation.

So what’s different about the updated course for Google Administrators?

Why choose a specialization?

The older version of this learning model has now been redesigned as a specialization: Google Professional Collaboration Engineer for Workspace.

A specialization includes a series of courses, each including its own credential, leading to an overarching certification. It therefore follows recent shifts in learning design, breaking down larger modules into smaller chunks.

I think it’s so important that professional learning spaces continue to make skills-building as manageable for people as possible, especially during the current pandemic times. And, just as we scaffold learning across classrooms today, Coursera now provides online spaces where skills are built through digestible chunks of practice.

Practice?

Yes, of course! Hands-on practice is what I find to be one of the platform’s most valuable assets. Just as we continue to see inside classrooms globally, learning happens most meaningfully when students are doing. And, it’s exactly the same with this Google Cloud specialization. There is a practical activity for me to complete at the end of each section, directly inside the Google Admin Console, so I was able to apply learning immediately across each step of the course.

Deep learning

* Not to be confused with Deep Learning, although…

I do actually believe that Google’s doing a great job of integrating machine learning across K-12 learning experiences as well. For instance, I love helping educators integrate tools like Google’s AutoDraw for young learners…

AutoDraw uses machine learning to guess what I’m trying to draw. It successfully guessed…a lightbulb!

as well as their augmented reality explorations through Google Arts & Culture,

From dinosaurs, to Mona Lisa, to life in the real world!

or even their Teachable Machine tool!

What a great tool to integrate across K-12 STEAM curriculum!

Ok, I did go down a bit of a #GOOGLEY rabbit hole, I know. But! Can you blame me? So many exciting things that educators and learners can explore about the real world around us.

Again, learning through exploration, practice, discovery…and all derived from curiosity about ‘how’ and ‘why’ things work the way they do. These kinds of experiences all support critical thinking, collaboration, and creative problem solving skills.

Learning, can however, easily get lost these days. Distractions, lack of content engagement, traditional styles of learning, etc. They all add to the growing list of barriers faced by many in today’s current education model. Self-paced learning, like what I experience with Coursera though, is a great solution! I can learn at my own pace, and from the comfort of my own home, or anywhere in the world with internet access, for that matter.

Raising the bar

As a senior leader, I support schools from a strategical level, so I am responsible for understanding digital ecosystems in depth. It’s not enough to just be able to use the technology tools, and support staff to use them. I actually have to understand the infrastructure, including its architecture and design, which is not necessarily achievable just by exploring an Admin Console.

Coursera’s Google Cloud specialization succinctly breaks down different parts of an organization’s cloud solution. I not only refreshed my Admin Console skills, which also recently had a design overhaul this past summer, but I also learned so much more!

My favorite part was definitely the last of the 5 modules: Planning for a Google Workspace Deployment. My role in schools is naturally a change maker, so it’s great to see IT Administrators getting support with change management! Just as the course also points out…

Technology vs…the People!

transformation is ALL about culture change!

@TechyLeaderEDU

People are critical and essential parts of change process, including relationships and communication across the organization.

The other four parts of the specialization include: Google Workspace Mail Management, Google Workspace Security, Managing Google Workspace, and Introduction to Google Workspace Administration.

Each of these five courses, is what’s more widely becoming known, each as a microcredential: a shorter section of professional learning which builds skills in a specialized area. Here is a study currently being done on microcredentialing across education, including badging.

Why learning ‘the hard stuff’ is so important…

As someone who is completely self-taught in terms of IT (information technology), learning spaces like Coursera are especially crucial in ensuring that my knowledge and skills are current and strong.

This course supports me largely in leading IT teams and with strategic organization-wide digital planning and implementation. It then helps me to support school community stakeholders, making understanding and buy-in more concrete. The courses are easy to follow and interact with, even for someone without an IT background.

Completing the practical activities as I progressed through each course, also allowed me to build technical confidence. Mail routing, through the data migration process for example, won’t necessarily need to be repeated once it’s completed at the Go Live stage.

Instructional coaches, strategists, and other technology EdTech leaders often struggle to understand why some things work at other schools but not at their own school. Having a solid understanding of how your school’s infrastructure works, will help you in making recommendations to improve the processes and policies. This will then lead to enabling that which is most important – teaching and learning!

Don’t ever let technology turn you into a ‘victim’. Connect with like-minded early adopters and innovators, collaborate with these leaders to learn and grow together, and engage in communities of practice.

It can be easy to gain ‘technical freedom, which comes with deeper learning and practical experience.

Eventually, harnessing the power of technical freedom will empower you to repurpose technology for the greater good. And Coursera? Well, platforms like Coursera can help you build your technical confidence, so it’s a great place to start!

How can you get started?

Well, any educator can register for a free Coursera account and take 1 FREE course per calendar year. I also just recently discovered this past summer, that educational organizations can also apply for education licensing, through the Coursera for Campus option – ‘music to my ears‘!

I learn best through practical trial and error, so I’m grateful for my ‘sandbox’ spaces. But don’t worry if you’re not currently a Google Administrator where you work. There are some existing Google Administrators and Google for Education Certified Trainers, who created video tutorials to help you set up your very own training domain, so you can practice alongside courses like these. You’ll be able to access those support videos once you join the #GoogleET community Google Group.

I learned so much over the years, just by connecting with others like me, so I highly recommend reaching out to your networks! Connect with other innovation leaders who are actively building their skills and learning by collaborating and creating. Surround yourself with other education leaders in these fields, and you’ll find that your self-development goals exponentiating.

For those using Google Cloud solutions, start with your local, regional, and international Google Educator Groups. GEG UK and Global GEG are great places to start if you’re based in the UK.

Twitter is another great place to connect and grow. Use #GOOGLEY hashtags like #GoogleET, #GoogleEI, #GoogleEDU, and #GoogleAdmin. You can start by tagging me on Twitter to let me know what you think about the ideas I shared in this blog post: @TechyLeaderEDU.

As we step into 2022 today, I invite you to take deeper technical learning risks with me this year.

Happy New Year ahead, and may it continue full of growth!

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