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Multiple guess tests

In a fit of unwarranted optimism last fall, I included becoming a Google Certified Teacher as one my professional growth targets.*  The weather here in Minnesota has actually felt like winter the last two days and I am completely sick of writing chapters about libraries for my book, so I figured this would be a good time to start the certification process. And did I mention that I have a meeting with my boss to discuss my progress on meeting those targets coming up in a couple weeks?

For those who aren't familiar with the process, Google certification for an individual consists of reading six training modules covering different aspects of Google Apps for Education and then taking a 60 item multiple guess choice test on each module, paying $90 for the privilege. After having helped implement Google Apps in the district, having trained others on its use, and, hell, having used it for both my personal and professional work for about five years, I though, how hard could this be?

As it turns out, it isn't particularly difficult, only long and tedious. The challenge is not knowing how to use any Google tool purposely either for professional productivity or with kids, but to be able to recall (or find) trivia about the product. (How many contacts can be imported from a spreadsheet at a time? 50, 1,000, 3,0000, or no limit.) Yes, I am picking up a few things I didn't know, but I am not sure what the time/cost pay back will be now that I know hitting shift + ? brings up keyboard shortcut commands. Oh, note to Google persons - the tutorials need significant updating since they still reference the "old" apps look. There is no more little green bottle to click on to get to the labs section.

The one other person here in the office who has completed the certification process speculates that it is Google's intention to see if one has the skills to find the right answer quickly (these are timed tests) rather than has the ability to memorize a body of content. That assumes a level of sophistication about testing that I doubt the brainacs who designed this program have. It's more likely they just designed a test that was like the tests they were accustomed to taking in school themselves.

Despite the fact I've always been a pretty good multiple guess test taker (I've passed the first two module of certification without study), using this sort of test to determine one's skills and knowledge of GoogleApps seems particularly ironic. Used in its most powerful ways, Apps is a great constructivist tool kit allowing staff and students to build personal knowledge - the antithesis of parroting trivia. 

It's probably a good thing that educators take such tests now and again just as a reminder of how meaningless they really are, especially compared to a good project that is authentically assessed.  

Oh, did I mention that although I am a good test taker, I am very baaaaad student.

* This was before reading Miguel Guhlin's excellent post on these sorts of certifications, "My Name is Irrelevant."

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Reader Comments (3)

This is a very timely post for me - I was considering updating my Microsoft Master Teacher certification (I currently only have the 2003 certification) but since our tech department is looking to move students and teachers to Google Apps, do you think it might be better for me (and more likely approved by the school) if I ask for the Google Apps Certification?

January 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKenn Gorman

Thanks for the info. Now I won't bother trying to go through that process. Guess I'm still young and impressionable enough to think that those things are "impressive." Guess you just need to scratch at the surface a little bit...

What's funny is I remember the most reactionary tech head on our state's list serve banging his chest, so to speak, via email about how important his certifications were as compared to scholarly work because "in the real world" they mean something according to him. I guess some people just need to show off with 5 line email signatures.

January 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNathan Mielke

HI Kenn,

If your school is moving to GoogleDocs, I'd certainly go Google Certified. If not, stay Microsoft. I'd ask my administration which one they see to be of most value.


Hi Nathan,

I really didn't mean to discourage you or anyone from getting this certification. My point was more that the process seems dated and more of a hoop to jump through than a real learning process. For $90, you aren't out much and you may impress some people!

Good luck,


January 28, 2012 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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