(Cross-posted on the Google for Work Blog.)

Editor's note: Twenty thousand educators from around the world will share ideas, tips, and trends for the upcoming year when they gather at ISTE, one of the largest education technology conferences in the world. If you’ll be in Philadelphia, come visit us in the Expo Hall at #1808. You can learn more about the new Training Center and check out any of over 50 short sessions that will share more ways to engage and inspire students.

Technology can transform education, but only when it enables and supports amazing educators. Effective professional development is thus a crucial part of creating real positive change and preparing students for the future. For this reason, we’re proud to introduce the new Google for Education Training Center, a free, interactive, online platform that helps educators apply Google’s tools in the classroom and beyond.
Professional development has long been a challenge for educators and administrators. A 2015 survey by the American Federation of Teachers found that the "adoption of new initiatives without proper training or professional development" was the primary reason for workplace stress, with 71% of respondents citing it. This is why we worked closely alongside educators to design professional development tools that fit the needs of their peers.

“We didn’t need another help center with how-to articles; we needed to start where teachers start, with learning objectives, classroom tasks and teaching strategies,” said Jay Atwood, EdTech coordinator at Singapore American School and project lead for the Training Center’s lesson creation. “With the new Training Center, we do just that.”

The Training Center provides interactive lessons with a practical classroom focus, allowing educators and administrators to customize their learning paths by choosing fundamental or advanced courses. Each course is organized around three themes:
Educators can access different units and lessons in any order they prefer. After completing either the fundamentals or advanced course, educators can then distinguish themselves as Google Certified Educators, Level 1 or Level 2.

The lessons support different skill sets, grade levels, content specialties, capacities and interests. “I thought I was pretty knowledgeable about Google, but in each session I learned something new,” says Carla Jones, a teacher at Cook Elementary School in Chicago, IL who previewed the Training Center content. “I learned tips and strategies that I could immediately use in my classroom, and each session got me super excited about how to make my classroom more tech integrated.”

Chicago Public Schools (CPS), the third largest school district in the United States with more than 600 schools and 400,000 students, worked with Google for Education as a launch partner for the new Training Center. CPS will use the Training Center as an integral part of its technology professional development program, and teachers’ time spent on Training Center courses will count toward their professional development hours.

“The new Google for Education Training Center empowers teachers to drive their own learning and track their progress,” says Donna Rom├ín, EdTech instructional specialist at CPS. “It combines differentiated content, flexible pace and application with the collaborative magic of Google Apps for Education in a supportive learning environment.”

The Training Center reflects what we value most about education, focusing on the process of learning rather than the tools themselves. “The Training Center was carefully designed around good pedagogy and instructional practices,” explains Mark Hammons, EdTech coordinator at the Fresno County Office of Education and a contributor to the platform. “Not only will teachers learn how to use Google Apps, but they will also learn how to apply them meaningfully in the classroom.”

To learn more about the Training Center, visit g.co/edutrainingcenter and try out a lesson or two.