“We are about to launch a Chromebook loaner system at our district board office. I modeled the idea off of Google’s internal project that I saw at Google Next this summer ….”
When Bill Mackenzie decided to test out a Grab-N-Go loaner program at Upper Grand School District, he barely finished the setup before eagerly posting it into a Google+ community, home to IT Admins from nearly 450 school districts, who also use Google Workspace and Chromebooks.
And Bill wasn’t alone, dozens of other new and innovative projects get posted by district administrators into the community – and they get picked up and actually implemented by districts thousands of miles away. An average month sees over 100 posts, 500+ comments, and a dozen new school districts
The North American Google Technical Collaborative (NAGTC) is a peer-based group of North American school district Google Workspace administrators who advocate collaborative advancements and consultant-led learning surrounding Google Cloud and its application to the EDU space.
The digital, community-focused format, empower’s local IT Administrators to become international leaders. It provides a voice and interactive platform for sharing innovative concepts with a peer group that spans an entire continent. Ames Community Schools is another district that recently presented to the community on 2-Step Verification adoption; reporting on goals, insights, and strategy. It was quickly obvious that dozens of districts, hundreds of miles away were just as curious about the crucial security measure as well. As Karl from Ames Community Schools presented into the live stream, the accompanying chat blew up with the questions, concerns, and answers from fellow community members. https://goo.gl/KhSN34
The community-led collaboration structure is providing more than sharing new projects. As a joint community of EDU Admins, they’re creating best practices for new features and settings, they’re troubleshooting problems and bugs in real-time, and they’re helping each other use the technology they have to make the greatest effect. After all, these 700+ members are supporting over 450 districts that directly impact the daily education of over 5 million students across North America.
Peer-to-peer ‘wisdom of the crowd’ bit aside, these school district IT Techs are additionally utilizing other cost and time-saving perks. Members of this community get access to discounts on dozens of products and services such as web filtering, security, Chrome device management, and Chromebook printing solutions, to name a few. These discounted items are already necessary purchases for IT Departments, thus making limited budget dollars go even further. A membership to the North American Google Technical Collaborative has become a catalyst for school districts that need to do more with less.
Once a month, members jump onto a collaborative live-stream helmed by Google experts at CDW Amplified for Education (they manage the group) where attendees can be brought on the screen to ask their questions via video stream to the rest of the group. These interactive events run 60-90 minutes long as the group dives into feature updates, collaborative discussion, and community-driven presentations on specific topics of interest.
In regions where they have a lot of member districts, they even get together for in-person meetups. Though with the NAGTC as our core for content delivery, we have transitioned the focus to group-led discussions and showcases for our in-person meetups. Ontario’s 14th meetup http://bit.ly/ongtc14th included a district-led overview of experiences and best practices around Ontario-specific account privacy concerns. These insights become documented resources for the entire NAGTC community.