Google for Education, efficiencies, architecture, mountain bikes and clean language
Apologies for the long title.
Yesterday I had a meeting with Jamie Smith @CloudBusiness9 from C Learning to discuss Google for Education for a small soft federation of schools (one Secondary and six Primary Schools). The aim of the meeting was to ensure the transformation project was built upon secure footings that enabled future dexterity and opportunity. To “look around the corner” and get an insight into what the future could look like. Past “personal Google accounts1,” where most people (including myself) first encounter Google, past “Education and Enterprise accounts and transformation2,” where most education staff meet G Suite (and the cloud). To a conversation about how to design an organisational architecture that enables and accommodates future dexterity brought forward by cloud-thinking and innovation3. Here the conversation starts.
Insights such as these can only really be gained through knowledge and experience. Often the hard way.
Experience is what you get, when you don’t get what you want.
Knowledge and experience, I do not have within a Google ecosystem. That is why you speak with people like Jamie Smith and Google Partners like C Learning or Delling Cloud. What confirmation did we find? What did we learn? More importantly possibly, what questions were surfaced?
We very quickly bypassed the “what technology” conversation and started with “what do we want our users to experience?” “Why are we changing?” “What is the future state we envision is possible?” And “what flexibility can be tolerated with an ever shifting destination?” We did pause on the estimated “cost of change,” calculations and “efficiency savings” – after all every bursar is going to ask for that information (utilities, software audit, printing, staffing). Jamie also shared this economic impact study resource. Within this short conversation, we briefly discussed Chromebooks. Not which Chromebook, rather build quality, returns policies, energy usage and Service Level Agreements. (I should have added start-up time savings too). We got a “knowing” nod-of-the-head as we discussed Google Classroom reporting and Jamie shared with us C Learning’s Google Classroom Toolbox. No pitch. Just an acknowledgement of the shortfall in this particular Google product and a way forward. We are coming back to that C Learning product as the first agenda point in our next meeting.
Jamie’s knowledge and experience, and reassurance, came to fore when the conversation stepped up to Level 3. Google architecture and data regions, security, device management and Big Query. First, Jamie generously shared his knowledge before offering his teams’ support in reviewing any first steps, audits and architectural schematics. That in itself was very generous. Any leader worth their salt knows how important that first build is.
We went on to discuss the potential opportunities for cross-school collaboration (should the architecture permit it) before exploring the potential insights and solutions Google for Education and Big Query could offer a federated group of schools. The availability of analytics, data visualisation and dashboards that could inform school leader decisions, help teachers refine their practice, help learners learn, or provide insights to student support services. A conversation that is quite some distance departed from Google for Education G Suite and Google Classroom.
There was a short detour on AI and mountain biking, one on Clean Language, but for the most part it was a conversation about organisational productivity and people – where Google for Education serves the school.
Two areas we didn’t get to discuss, which I hope to return to in round two, is workflow automation and use of Google Voice. That remains an open invitation.
At the time of speaking, I didn’t know that Jamie was a Yogi Berra fan, so will end with this gift.
“When you come to the fork in the road take it.”