Empowering others with educational technology
Educational technology has become a passion for Georgia Southern University College of Education Alumna Hollie Sisk (B.S.Ed. Special Education, ‘01; M.Ed. Instructional Technology, ’05).
A media specialist in the Bulloch County School system, Sisk desired to train not only students but her fellow educators how to utilize Google for Education and its many applications.
“Seventeen of the 18 districts in First District RESA are implementing Google for Education with a goal of eventually becoming one-to-one with devices like the Chromebook, however many teachers do not know how to use Chromebooks and Google for Education core suite of services,” explained Sisk.
The 1:1 Chromebook Initiative provides each student with access to a laptop that can be used in the classroom or taken home to complete assignments. Equipped with Google for Education applications, some of the apps can be accessed without internet access.
“Google has provided a level playing field for students,” explained Sisk. “Access is vital in education, and the opportunities are unlimited when you are aware of the storage and offline options for students using the Google applications.”
“It’s more than just using the internet to complete a research paper,” she continued. “You can expose your students to so much more–take them on a virtual field trip or play 20 questions with students in Spain.”
Sisk graduated from Georgia Southern with a bachelor’s in special education. She worked in the classroom for several years primarily serving as a resource and collaborative English and language arts teacher in Glynn, Effingham and Fayette Counties.
“My philosophy was important,” she said. “It was my goal to teach my students never to use their disability as an excuse. My priority was to educate them on how to use available resources so they could accomplish classwork just like their peers.”
In 2005, Sisk completed her master’s in instructional technology from the College of Education and transitioned into her career as a media specialist. For the past 10 years, she has worked in Fayette, Houston and Bulloch Counties. Sisk says that while her job–from teacher to media specialist–may have changed, her teaching philosophy remained the same.
“I realized I was still teaching students how to use available resources that the media center had to offer, but I discovered I was also teaching various professional learning topics to colleagues as well,” she explained. “If I can educate teachers how to integrate technology in an effective and engaging way in their classroom, then they are also modeling how to take advantage of those available resources as well.”
Now with 15 years of public education experience under her belt, Sisk has a new goal.
“My mission is to encourage and empower the users of information and technology with the latest digital resources,” said Sisk.
In fall 2016, Sisk completed and passed the exams to become a Google Certified Educator Level 1 and 2. She attended her first EdTechTeam Summit in January, and in March learned that she was accepted to the Google for Education Certified Trainer program.
“I am among 2,008 trainers worldwide and only 20 in the state of Georgia,” Sisk explained. “In southeast Georgia, there are only two trainers–myself and [the Director of the College of Education’s Instructional Resources Center] Daniel Rivera. That speaks volumes and it is an opportunity to encourage others to become Google certified, at least starting with the basics of the Level 1 certification.”
Also in March, Sisk entered a national video response contest hosted by Flipgrid, a video discussion community for classrooms. She was surprised to recently be told that her video, detailing the reasons why she wanted to attend the California EdTechTeam Summit, was selected as the winner. The EdTechTeam will pay for the registration and conference fees for Sisk to attend the July summit featuring Google for Education in Mountain View, CA.
“I am thrilled at the opportunity to experience Google in California this summer,” said Sisk.
Since winning the Flipgrid contest, Sisk has also been featured on the EdTechTeam’s blog for a resource she created using Google Keep.
Sisk recently served as an ambassador for Edcamp at Georgia Southern, hosting several of the event’s sessions. She is also currently serving on the planning committee for First District RESA’s first-ever Summer Institute featuring Google for Education to be held on June 6.
“My focus is trying to provide training or professional development opportunities for our teachers so they will know how to best implement these digital resources when their classroom is equipped with one-to-one devices.”
With all that is happening, Sisk says she is already thinking about her next goal.
“There is one more level for Google certification and that is the ‘Certified Innovator,’” she explained. “At this level, Google trains and utilizes educators to design creative solutions to challenges seen in education. That is my next goal.”
Posted in Alumni Highlights