In an effort to improve communications between our staff and students and to address the technology accessibility gap for our students, our entire charter school network decided to implement G Suite for Education. This means that all our staff and students automatically receive a school-issued Gmail account (tied to their respective school).
These accounts provide them with access to G Suite's full range of tools (Docs, Slides, Sheets, Forms, etc.), which is particularly beneficial to many of our students who do not have access to similar software at home, such as that offered by Microsoft. Having our staff and students on the same network makes it easy for students to collaborate and for staff and students to find and share documents with one another.
Among the most significant (i.e., labor intensive) components of the roll-out were management and training/onboarding of staff and students. So to support this initiative, I obtained both G Suite Administrator and Google Certified Trainer certifications.
We predominantly utilize CloudPages and the G Suite Admin Console to monitor and manage our student and staff accounts and files. This has been particularly helpful during significant school transitions, such as re-chartering.
Training Staff: To train our staff to be proficient in utilizing G Suite tools with their students, I worked with another Google Certified Trainer, Raul Cortez, to design and implement a G Suite training program for all the schools within our region. We devised a "blended" training program that relied on a mixture of in-person training sessions and online training modules. Doing so, we managed to support over 25 of our staff members in successfully receiving their Google Certified Educator (Level 1) certification and were able to support 2 more staff members through the Google Certified Trainer program, so that they would be able to further provide assistance to the various schools within our region. This training program later piqued the interest of administrators further up in our network, and as a result, I was asked to work alongside another regional EdTech specialist to design another (more expansive) "blended" G Suite training program to service the training needs for staff at all the 72 schools within our nationwide charter school network.
Onboarding Students: To onboard our students and better ensure proficiency with their G Suite for Education tools, I supported another staff member (one of our CTE teachers) with designing a "Digital Literacy" curriculum/course that our students must complete as one of their first courses upon enrolling in any one of our schools. This course teaches the elements of digital literacy and digital citizenship, and also instructs the students in how to utilize their G Suite tools, which later helps them to better utilize these tools within their other courses.