Teachers and students may already be enjoying their summer vacations, but the Google Apps for Education team is going back to school for the annual ISTE conference in Denver, Colorado this week. We’re excited to talk with educators about the latest ways that Google Apps empowers teachers to teach – and schools to save money.

We're also excited to share the news that the states of Colorado and Iowa have made Google Apps available to their public schools, joining Oregon in leading the movement to Google Apps for education.

One of the things that we value most about working with educators is their commitment to always improving the tools and practices they use when they teach. Teachers often ask us about resources that support the use of Google Apps in the classroom. Today, we’re announcing a full spectrum of training solutions that schools can use to develop and enhance their use of Google Apps – regardless of their size or budget.

These Google Apps for Education training solutions encompass three components: a free online training center, a set of qualification exams for teachers, and a Certified Trainer and Partner program.

Schools wanting a “self service” approach to mastering Google Apps can now find a comprehensive set of resources on using Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Sites, and more in our new online Google Apps Education Training Center. This free online center is designed to take a new user of Google Apps – even someone with no Apps experience – and guide them step-by-step to understanding and proficiency.

Schools can take this proficiency one step further with a set of exams that let educators or trainers prove their mastery of Google Apps – a key step in becoming a Google Apps Certified Trainer or Partner. These exams are based 100% on the content in the training center, so everything that’s needed to pass the test is available online. Exams are administered by an independent third party training organization and can be purchased directly from our new training center.

These training solutions also support schools with the training and professional development resources they need to enhance their teachers’ use of Google Apps as a teaching tool. The new Google Apps for Education Certified Trainer and Partner program provides a formal structure for certifying individuals and partners who lead workshops or trainings about Apps, and provides schools with an easy way to find the best partners in their area.

We’ll be talking more about this program at ISTE, but if you’re not there, take a look at the site to see what it can offer you and your school.

We have one more piece of good news for educators everywhere: we’re extending our offer to provide Google Message Security (GMS) at no charge to schools who sign up with Apps through the end of this year. Primary and secondary schools that add the GMS service to their domain before December 31, 2010 will be able to take advantage of GMS’s custom email filters, policy management, and enhanced security controls.

If you’re at ISTE this year, stop by the Google booth #2536 and take a seat in our teaching theater to learn more about Google Apps from our team and some of our Google Certified Teachers.

You can also join us tonight at our Google Block Party and hear from Executive Directory of SIPA John Conley about how Colorado schools are moving to Google Apps.

Posted by Dana Nguyen, Product Marketing Manager, Google Apps Education