Google Suite it is!

Cedar Rapids Community School District staff, the Office of Digital Literacy has more exciting news to share!  The device steering committee analyzed over 200 survey responses and has recommended that we shift to Google Suite (Gmail, Docs, Spreadsheets, Slides, etc) for our student productivity and collaboration system.  The committee came to this recommendation based on the following points:

  • 200 survey responses from three stakeholder groups: 117 LA 9 students, 44 teachers (open product demonstration participants), and 26 committee members (K-12 teachers, teacher leaders, and administrators, as well as the technology department).
  • Of the 13 student outcomes, the majority of the committee members felt that Google provided the better option.
  • The one-time login and login times were stronger and more reliable on Google Suite.  84 of the about 140 users reported it took less than 30 seconds to log into the Chromebooks, while the 101 users reported Microsoft taking between 30 seconds and 3 minutes.  Additionally, 86/117 students reported having to enter their password only one time.
  • The ease of use and intuitive design for learning and using applications.  79% of students preferred Google over Microsoft when asked which tools were easily accessible and 88% preferred Google over Microsoft when asked which tools were easier to use.
  • The ability to access Google Suite applications on any device from a phone to a tablet to a Chromebook to a desktop.
  • The enhanced sharing and collaboration features within Google Suite to empower students to be creators, not consumers.  67% of teachers stated that Google Suite did this better, while 7% stated that Microsoft did this better.
  • The student voice was heavily in favor of Google Suite.  Please take a moment to view a few student interviews.

After many informal and formal conversations and analyzing staff comments, we know and understand that for some this change is not exciting, but can bring emotions of nervousness, anxiousness, and fear.  We want to honor and validate those feelings. Please know that the Office of Digital Literacy is immediately starting to work with building administrators, IDSs, leadership teams, digital literacy trainers, IDLs, curriculum facilitators, teacher librarians, and GWAEA to develop and implement professional learning around these tools and how to design a classroom environment.  This transition will happen over time and the conversion process is iterative into next year. Support will be provided to help plan. Ryan Rydstrom, Associate Director of Access and Instructional Design, will help lead and facilitate these efforts. Please reach out to the Office of Digital Literacy if you’d like to know more or start to plan classroom experiences.

What does this mean for me?

As an educator this transition will impact you in the following ways:

  • Collaboration and sharing of online documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc with students WILL transition to the Google Suite.
  • Microsoft clients (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, etc) will NOT go away on your devices and you will still be able to access and create with those tools into the future.
  • Communication and collaboration with the Communication and Technology Departments are starting, now, to begin the transition and set-up Google accounts for all staff members. Target completion date is spring break.
  • Professional learning will be offered starting as soon as your building wants, as well as into the summer and fall.  Professional learning will start to transition to using Google Suite applications for the 2019-2020 school year.
  • Students WILL use a Chromebook device as their student issued computer for the 1:1 device.  The device will be selected in the next 8-12 weeks after going through a feedback process.

Should I be doing something now?

There is nothing in the immediate future that you need to do.  Once we have accounts provisioned, you will be able to access them and start “playing.”  Google does offer online training modules and an educator certification if you’re interested.  If you’re wanting to design learning experiences, please reach out and we’d be willing to set up coaching conversations.

How was this decision made?

There was a five-step process that is outlined below:


Also, the committee analyzed over 200 survey responses.  The comprehensive reports can be found here:

Student Voice

Teacher Voice

Committee Voice

To end, we’d like to thank the following people:

  • The 44 CRCSD staff members that gave up an evening to provide feedback during the product demonstrations.
  • The 117 students that provided their voice in the process, along with the 13 students that were interviewed.
  • The 2 LA 9 teachers from KHS and WHS that provided a few days of instruction in the two ecosystems, not to mention the hours spent planning for the time.
  • The 26 staff members that gave up multiple evenings to be a part of the steering committee.
  • Stacy Behmer and Jonathon Wylie from GWAEA that led and facilitated the process.
  • The Technology Department for being flexible and making it happen.
  • All the CRCSD teachers and staff members for instilling their trust in the Office of Digital Literacy and Office of Learning and Leadership to lead and manage this change process so that we can fulfill the promise of Every Learner: Future Ready.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Josie Norton says:

    What will happen to Canvas?


    1. Craig Barnum says:

      Hello Josie!

      Thanks for the read! There are no plans to study a new LMS (Learning Management System — Canvas) for the next couple of years. So, nothing will be changing there during that time frame. Don’t hesitate to reach out with any additional questions or thoughts you might have.


  2. Kara McLaughlin says:

    I think this switch will be a great one and will be beneficial to everyone involved. You mentioned students choosing their 1:1 device, which set(s) of students are included in this?


    1. Craig Barnum says:

      Hello Kara!

      We are still designing the hardware selection process. In our process to determine our collaboration software, we gathered feedback from English 9 students at Washington and Kennedy. As we look to gather student voice on the specific Chromebook, I hope we can get an even broader set of student voices. Let me know if you have additional questions.


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