Noel Erskine, Technology Coordinator Norris Schools

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Why are Google's teachers tests open book? Do we need to learn from them?

Friday, November 30, 2012

A teacher recently sent me a link to this article and pointed me to a section toward the end of the article. 

From this article I read the following excerpt:
"When I was going threw the process of becoming a Google Apps Certified Trainer I was taking the required tests on all the Google Apps. The tests run on Google's own system and once you press start you have 90 minutes to finish. Google also gives you all the training materials which are public and anyone can learn from. So I did what any cheating student would do. I started the test in one browser and then opened up the training materials in another browser. When I came to a question I didn't know the answer to I would quickly search for and find it in the training manuals. Basically an open book test.

As I continued taking the tests I kept asking myself "What is Google after here?" and then it hit me. It's about searching and finding information.
Wow... This is spot on. I love the statement... "So I did what any cheating student would do. I started the test in one browser and then opened up the training materials in another browser." Yep, that is what I would do too! 

I can remember 20 years ago, when they talked about living in the "information age", and did not realize what that meant until several years later, when hundreds of emails fly through my inbox weekly and millions of Tweets and Facebook postings are made daily. So much information, so little time, and so many people that can not find the data or answers when they need it.  I think it's a generational thing.  The best thing you can tell many teachers is... "Just ask your students for help on how to run the __________. (You can fill in the blank with any piece of technology or tool that you want to.) Do not be afraid to asks students for help with technology, and at the same time let's look at those students and figure out ways of delivering content that will reach them as well require them to apply and use the content they can easily find.
My son recently tore a car apart and rebuilt it from the ground up. (He has a couple things to finish, but it's close to getting done!)  He had no automotive classes or training.  How did he do it?? The internet. With a great web site, tutorials, videos, and a car community willing to answer peoples postings and emails... I saw my son become a mechanic, who encouraged me pull a motor and transmission out of one car and drop it into another car. I have done mechanic work in the past, but I never would of been motived to trying it again if it had not been for my son's encouragement and help.  (And yes, that car has been running great ever since!) 
I remember watching a TED video- Sugata Mitra: The child-driven education. If you have not seen this, you need to, it's amazing what kids can do if we get out of their way.

This was blog article I started long ago, and since it's initial start, I have taken all of the Google Certification tests, and yes... I think I used the same technique as described in the original article that spurred this blog posting. Since the tests are time limited, as a student you spend so much time preparing, taking notes, etc... that you learn the curriculum, even though the test is "open book". 

So what does it really boil down to??? 
It's all about information management, problem solving, and becoming a lifelong learner.  What are we doing to foster this in our children?



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