Monday, 13 February 2017

I quit my job to become a full time trainer


As you may know, I'm now the UK Director at AppsEvents. We run Google for Education training and events all around the world. It's a super fun job and I love every second, meeting enthusiastic educators all over the world. Just before I took on the position, I did a quick interview for their blog and thought I'd repost here. Questions? Feel free to leave them in the comments!

AppsEvents: Hi Dean. Thanks for doing this interview. For the benefit of our readers, please tell us something about yourself.
Dean: Hey, my name’s Dean Stokes and I was a full-time teacher in England for over 8 years before deciding to freelance and travel the world in July this year. I’ve used Google products since Gmail was released in 2004 and began using them in my teaching in 2013.

AppsEvents: When did you apply for the Google Certified Trainer program and what was your greatest motivation?
Dean: I attended the Google Teacher Academy (now called the Google for Education Innovation Academy) in London, 2013. It was totally inspiring and I met some great people there including other AppsEvents speakers like Ben Rouse and Oli Trussell. I was already training the staff at my school but was inspired to share even further.

I applied to become (and was accepted as) a Google for Education Certified Trainer (GET) in early 2014. My biggest motivation was the opportunity to share my enthusiasm more widely. Being a GET definitely gives you more credibility when presenting to other teachers. It has also opened lots of doors for me and provided a huge, supportive personal learning network (PLN).

AppsEvents: Did you encounter any challenges?
Dean: Time. Trying to make my application as strong as possible whilst working with a full timetable of lessons was difficult. I would bullet point my ideas for the video and answers to the questions whenever I thought of them before bringing it all together when I had a decent chunk of time to do so.

AppsEvents: We’ve heard that you’ve been travelling around the world while doing Google Apps (now G Suite) training and/or consultation. Can you tell us more about it?
Dean: I really loved teaching in a secondary school but this year I made the decision to leave in order to freelance full time whilst travelling the world. Being a Google for Education Certified Trainer essentially enabled that to happen. It meant that I had built a large enough network of contacts and events that I could earn money whilst enjoying visiting different cities and countries.

In the last 12 months, I've completed a road trip across the USA from New York to San Diego, went whale watching off Vancouver Island, enjoyed a sauna in Finland and lived in Barcelona for a month. I’ll also be visiting the Philippines, South Korea and Italy. In total, this year, I will have presented in 12 different countries for a number of schools and businesses including AppsEvents and Google directly.

AppsEvents: In your own words, can you list the top benefits of becoming a Google Trainer?
Dean: For me, it’s people, people, people. It’s thanks to becoming a trainer that I’ve been able to meet other people as enthusiastic as me about using G Suite for Education. That ultimately leads to more work but, most importantly, helps you to continually grow and learn from others.

AppsEvents: Do you miss teaching full time? Is there any similarity between teaching in a classroom set up versus what you do now.
Dean: I definitely miss teaching students but the great thing about my job now is that I get to train adults who will be able to collectively reach and improve the experience for more students than I would have ever been able to on my own. I'm also lucky enough to work on projects that involve students directly. For example, I'll soon be supporting a school in training a group of digital leaders who will in turn support other students and their teachers who will be using Chromebooks.

AppsEvents: What is the best thing about working as a full time trainer?
Dean: I really love the freedom that working this way offers. I'm able to essentially freelance full time whilst still enjoying life full time! It certainly didn't feel like I had the same work/life balance when I was in the classroom five days per week.

AppsEvents: Most memorable training experience?
Dean: I worked for Google on their BETT stand for the past two years. I met 1000s of people new to G Suite and Chromebooks and provided their first experience of Google Classroom. I am proud that Google asked me to work with them. I have some other particularly exciting projects in the pipeline too, but I'm not able to share them publicly yet… Sorry!

AppsEvents: Can you share with us what people can expect from the Google Certified Trainer bootcamp?
Dean: The Certified Trainer Bootcamp will go beyond using tools. Participants will get involved in learning how best manage change by supporting schools and leaders. We’ll also run through a number of real-life scenarios to help them develop skills for creating relevant training plans. Different training strategies will be introduced to help aspiring trainers deal with reluctant or disengaged learners.

AppsEvents: Aside from attending our bootcamp, anything else you would like to share to fellow educators who would also like to switch careers from being a classroom teacher to a full time Google for Education or G Suite trainer/consultant?
Dean: I do miss teaching and I really enjoy the times that I get to spend back in the classroom. The reason I switched was because I had a bigger goal of seeing as much of the world as I could. Full time freelance work has given me the flexibility to do that. It has also made me realise how much I enjoy training adults. Helping people realise what they’re capable of, no matter their age, is my favourite part of the job.


Looking for G Suite training? Check out all the upcoming events on the AppsEvents website!

Monday, 7 November 2016

Support Literacy and Comprehension in Your Classroom with Read&Write for Google Chrome

I recently worked with Texthelp to create a series of four webinars which walk new users through the steps of setting up Google Classroom. I talk about creating classes, setting assignments, collecting and assessing work and using Texthelp's Read&Write for Google Chrome and Fluency Tutor for Google.

Read&Write for Google Chrome

This extension, which is completely free for teachers, is great at supporting literacy and comprehension across the internet. It is particularly well integrated in Google Docs, Slides and the Drive PDF viewer. It allows students to use prediction to help structure sentences independently. It also allows teachers to leave voice comments on student work right within Docs and Slides. Across the web, it provides a way for students to have content read to them as well as gather notes from webpages into a single Google Doc. It can be truly transformational because it really does allow all students to become independent learners.

Check out the first webinar here to find out how to setup Google Classroom and Read&Write for Google Chrome!

Helping Students to Complete Work

The second webinar delves into students using Read&Write for Google Chrome to support them in completing an assignment. It also shows teachers how to collect work using Classroom. The third webinar will delve further into assessment of written and spoken work. Keep an eye out for another blog post soon which discusses using Fluency Tutor for Google to assess students' speaking

Finished the first webinar? Check out the second webinar here!

Friday, 17 June 2016

Using the New Google Sites (Video Overview)

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The new Google Sites was announced this week and is currently in early access. I was lucky enough to get hands on and see whether Google has truly given Sites some much needed love.

For years, users have been asking Google to update Sites. Whilst it's a great tool and hugely customisable, we all know deep down that it just looked a bit, well, old! 

The new Sites has clearly been built from the ground up. It has a beautiful user interface which makes use of Google's material design principles and is just as intuitive as their other tools like Forms (which also recently received a refresh).

To give myself a challenge, I decided to attempt to rebuild my personal site using Google Sites. I originally used a Bootstrap template and it took me nearly 3 days to get everything just as I wanted it. With the new Sites I achieved the same result in half an hour!

Watch the video below to get an overview of how this awesome tool works and keep an eye out for another post soon where I'll dive further into the tools available and discuss the things that I think we're likely to see added in future.

This post also appeared on the AppsEvents blog.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Organise Your Email Before it Hits Your Inbox #gafetip

Most schools and businesses that go Google take advantage of the whole suite of apps, including Gmail. This little tip is a great timesaver and will help get you to inbox zero in no time!

First, let's talk about filters. Filters allow you to automate certain tasks in Gmail - like labelling emails and archiving them so they never hit your inbox. I find them really helpful for filtering out updates from social media that I want to read, but that I don't want to distract me in the middle of the day. They're super simple to setup - just click the small arrow on the right of the search box, type your criteria, then choose 'Create filter with this search' in the bottom right of the prompt.

Now, here's the really good part... Did you know that you can manipulate your email address but still get all your email delivered? The magical + sign allows you to quickly create extra addresses that all come through to your inbox. Here's how it works - just put a '+' after your username, followed by anything you like, before completing the address in the usual way. For example, my email address is I could sign up for a newsletter using and the email still hits my inbox. I could sign up for LinkedIn and use the email

To be honest, I think that's pretty nifty on its own, because you can see which email address a message has been sent to at the top of each email. However, pair this feature with filters and you have one seriously awesome automated inbox. Simply setup your label(s), then when you create a filter, just fill out the 'to' field with the address you want mail filtered for. Here's a gif of setting up a filter based on the example above:

Now all of my newsletter emails get caught under one label and I don't have to spend time manually organising. Good luck with your journey to inbox zero!

Friday, 5 February 2016

Clear the Clutter from View by Sharing the Preview Link for 'View Only' Docs #gafetip

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Do you share lots of 'View Only' Docs inside Drive? Then this is the tip for you! The sharing features are one of the most powerful things about Google Drive, but sometimes the clutter of the toolbar can get in the way of a beautiful document. To share a link without it, simply change /view to /preview. Try it out - here's how it looks:

The document sharing link with /view:

The document sharing link with /preview

Here's what it looks like with /view (a little cluttered up top)

Here's what it looks like with /preview (beautifully minimalist)
For more Google Apps for Education tips and tricks, check out my blog and follow me on Twitter or G+. If you'd like help with integrating Google Apps for Work or Education, head to my website and get in touch. I can provide support, training and more!