Johnathon Martin - Nov 11, 2019

A day in the life of a Google for Education Partner

As a Google for Education partner, each year PrimaryTec have the opportunity to attend various partner events at Google’s UK HQ, located in Pancras Square, London.

These events are the perfect mix of business and pleasure, split between large formal keynote presentations and smaller, informal break out groups. The main purpose of the day is to share information. This information can then be passed on to our schools. We learn about the future of Google for Education, including the latest product updates, technical things to note when assisting a school migratration to G Suite, and the direction Google want to take.

Their tag line for the event mirrors our own vision at PrimaryTec: “Technology is transforming education in powerful ways, and we look forward to welcoming you to Google to build the future!”

On Friday 8th November, Johnathon and Josh took the long journey down to London from Hull, starting early with a 6am train, which was inevitably delayed. Arriving at Google slightly late, but still in time for a breakfast sandwich, Josh, who was visiting for the first time, was blown away by the size and design of the building:

“It’s amazing to see a building like this, Google have a fantastic working space, and I cannot wait to see their new building.” (This new building is currently under construction across the road!)

The first keynote of the day was delivered by John Vamvakitis, Director - International, Google for Education and was entitled "Growth, Innovation, Investment", which would become the theme for the day.

John Vamvakitis highlighted the history of Google in its 21 year history- from humble upbringings in a small garage of Sergey Brin and Larry Page (below) with a Lego housing rack to hold a small server PC, to the hugh resources they have available across the globe today.

Now, Google is investing in its products and it's teams. In just 5 years, Google in EMEA( Europe, Middle East, Africa) have achieved 59% annual growth of device sales. 1 in 4 people are already cloud workers and 67% use a browser so much more than they did 2 years ago, spending on average 4.6 hours a day in browser only. This meant ChromeOS and Chromebook sales are on the increase across all sectors.

Next, we learned about Chromebooks, with a presentation called ‘the Past, Present & Future’ with Jason Wong, a Google product manager.

ChromeOS has come a long way from the first chromebook, CR 48, a chromebook made by Google not for sale anywhere, but given to developers and educators to test.

This was back in 2010, and the feedback they received led to the first chromebooks to retail, built by Samsung in 2011. Fast forward 8 years, and there are 100s of chromebook models available for any type of user, from purpose built education chromebooks, to high end, high spec devices that retail at around £1000, there is sure to be a chromebook that meets your needs and budget.

The key message is ChromeOS has had lots of investment in that time, and is due a lot more. Not just around the advertising campaign recently launched with partners, but in terms of product development. Google are looking to announce something big at Bett regarding devices, so watch this space.

Melanie Lazare then came to show us all the new features of Google Classroom. There have been many BETA programs throughout this year to mark Google Classroom’s 5th birthday.

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These new programs have come through feedback from educators. Google have a closed loop for feedback within Google Classroom and G Suite, meaning a user will get an email when the feature they suggests hits implementation. Since 2014, Classroom has grown to serve over 40 million users in 220 countries. There are over 60 different integrations within Classroom, with many more planned. One of these is the ability to add in “grade” or pupil’s results to Classroom, and it sync automatically with a schools’ MIS, such as SIMS.

Another integration is the introduction of Rubrics, which allows teachers to attach success criteria to a Classroom assignment. This helps scaffold the learning outcomes for pupils, and make it clear exactly what they will be graded on.

One of the biggest changes comes from Google Forms. Now, users have the ability to reuse questions from other forms! This is a real time saver.

Lastly, we learnt about originality reports, which scans the web for content, allowing students and teachers to check citations correctly. This is available on the first “Freemium” model from Google.

All of these new updates can be covered in your school, just book an appointment today.

Just before we broke for lunch, Rob from Agora school took to the stage to share their Google transformation, and how imagination was key!

They completely changed the way education is perceived in Netherlands, with a very different way of ‘educating’ their students. They are 1 to 1 with chromebooks, but that isn’t what stands them apart. Click this link to read more about them.

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After a superb lunch, consisting of fantastic pop up street food we split into the more informal breakout sessions. The sessions focussed on three key areas Innovation, Growth and Investment

The sessions helped us understand new offerings from Google, covering topics such as;

  • meeting solutions with hangouts hardware (they have 21,000 video conferencing kits across their offices around the world)
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Jamboard
  • Google Voice
  • G Suite for Enterprise Education
  • Building a culture of innovation for change

These topics deserve their own blog posts, so subscribe to get notifications when these go live.

As the day was wrapping up, it was a pleasure to see John Solomon, VP of ChromeOS who was able to share with us how Google plans to utilise chromebooks for success in the next decade.

John took us through a recap of ChromeOS, and the Chrome Browser, introduced in 2008, with highlights including 30 million students now using Chromebooks in 2019. John spoke about the ease of managing ChromeOS compared to competitors and legacy ways of working. His words about change management struck home with us, as adopting ChromeOS is not as simple as moving from one product to another, but rather changing the way we work to incorporate the collaborative nature, and new way of getting things done.

ChromeOS removes a lot of the barriers that has traditional held back technology in education, however it is still only a tool, and the tool is only is good as how it is used.

Looking ahead, Google has plans to transition from usage to impact, which fits nicely into Ofsted’s deep dive through foundation subjects. There are plans to take Chromebooks beyond education, supporting throughout life. In the month of September, Chromebooks took up 16% of all consumer chromebooks, up from 7%, showing that a Chromebook is all the computer they need. Google plans to increase these numbers significantly over the coming years.

John went on to tell us how Google has a commitment to make computing more intuitive and personlised through Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Machine Learning chips are much more affordable, and in the next two years, Chromebooks can expect to have ML onboard, which will help with CPU usage, battery life and more. AI is already used in G Suite, for example within gmail for autocomplete. We can expect much more of this in the years to come.

OEM, such as Dell, HP and Lenovo are producing new hardware, and more premium products. John suggests that early data show that these types of products which retail at above $500, will be 80% up in terms of production in the second half of 2020 and into 2021, showing just how far ChromeOS has come in the consumer market.

The take away from this keynote was again, investment. Google plans to invest heavily to take a stronger hold on the global marketplace.

Anna Artemyeva, Google lead for EMEA finished the day by declaring the bar open, and the pleasure side of the trip took over. Drinks and canapes arrived to celebrate “Thank Google it’s Friday” which is always a welcome opportunity to meet new Google partners and learn new things.

Our trip to London was most certainly worth it. Now armed with even more knowledge, PrimaryTec are best placed to help you with your cloud transformation. Book an appointment to see how we can assist you on your journey.

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Written by Johnathon Martin

A former teacher, SLT member and IT lead, now Google Certified Trainer looking after our clients as head of the Client Success Team