E-Learning Conversation: Suan Yeo from Google

In this E-Learning Conversation we speak with Suan Yeo from Google.

We dig into a culture of learning, Talk about what changes are coming for Google Apps for education, security of data and a whole lot more.

E-Learning Conversation with Suan from Google

 Video & Resources:

Video Highlights:

38:28 Quick pedagogy tip and a quick technology tip

38:58 Little pedagogy tip for the teachers out there

39:54 Goal for your class and students

40:09 Workshops in our staff development days

10:37 What’s new with Google Sheets, scripts, opt ins

And a lot more…..


Mike: All right, hey guys, how are you doing? Thanks for logging onto today’s E-Learning Conversation. That’s great! I have Suan with us from Google and I also got Blake from McKinnon Senior College. So say hey guys.

Suan:  Hello.

Blake: Hello.  We’ll be making a secondary call as well Mike.  Let’s get started there, Mike.

Mike:  Excellent.  Just to let you know, I love statistics and I like dottering song.  We’ve got 402 people registered to watch today which is fantastic, and they’re from 31 different countries.  So we’ve got United Arab Imarets.  We’ve got China.  We’ve got Lithuania.  We’ve got Australia, America, obviously, New Zealand.  So guys, wherever you’re watching from, great welcome to you and we’re really looking forward to digging into a little bit of content for you today.  Hopefully there will be something that you can take away and talk about in the lunchroom and maybe something that you can apply to your classroom.  So let’s just jump right in.  So great, it’s great to have Suan with us and I guess I just want to greet, for those who haven’t bumped into you yet, just to get a bit of an idea of who you are and where you’ve come from, and maybe tell us a little bit about your journey.  How you got to be Head of Education at Google for the Asia Pacific region.

Suan:  Hi Mike.  Hi Blake.  My name is Suan Joe.  I head up education efforts for Australia and New Zealand.  I’m actually based here in Sydney, Australia, beautiful sunny Australia, although a little rainy today.  I’ve been at Google for about 11 years.  I’ve been in the education world for three years.  Funny story of how I actually started in this role.  They actually created a roll because it didn’t exist.  I found an opportunity to work with great educators and the student community and I went up to my vice president at the time and said “I would love to put my hand up for this roll” and he said “Go for it”.  And that’s how we do things at Google.  You find a problem and you solve it.  So I’ve been in this role for three years now, and travel all around Asia Pacific meeting some really great educators and learning from them.  I reckon I spent probably more time, in the last three years, in classrooms than I did my entire student career.  So that’s been really exciting for me.

Mike:  So here’s a question for you, Suan.  I get questions all the time about Google because sometimes people think I work for you and I just let them think that.  But the question they’re always asking me, they’ve seen the internship meeting and I’ve always want to know is that really what Google’s like?  What’s the question you probably get asked the most, working at Google?

Suan:  So to answer your first question, so the movie internship actually portrays a lot of the Google culture.  We actually had quite a few extras, like Google plays that became extras in the movie.  I think even our founder, Sergey, had a big role in the movie.  He was a little disappointed he didn’t get an Oscar nomination for it.  At Google, the most common question I get asked is “What’s the best thing about working at Google?” and my answer to that has always been the people.  We take hiring really seriously at Google, and you get to meet really interesting and very smart people.  They’ve come from all walks of life.  We’ve got computer scientists.  We’ve got psychologists.  We’ve got English majors.  We’ve got art majors.  It’s fantastic.  Just the breadth of experience that we have in the company and I think it’s that wide range of expertise and skillsets that have made us such an influential company today.

Mike:  Yeah wow, that’s really cool.  So talking about car insurance, we’ve got a lot of questions that have come through on the form that we have sent out to those that have registered.  We should mention too guys there’s a question and answer app running.  So if you’ve got any questions, by all means type those in as we’re running and if we get time, we’ll certainly answer them.  But here’s my question to start us off.  In education, they often say that education is the slowest of all industries to change and you sit through seminars sometimes and they give you quiet, like sometimes it takes to, in education, an idea 50 years to develop to full maturity of the widely accepted.  I guess I see at the moment, education seems to have a fair bit of momentum towards change.  People are willing to push the boundaries, check things out, change and so on.  But what I often hear is a lot of people referring back to the way companies like Google run and so I’d be interested to see how you’re seeing that, like Google culture is influencing education, influencing the way we teach, the way we learn, and so on.

Suan:   Sure, so I don’t think just companies like Google.  I think obviously other technology companies like Apple and Facebook, we all live in this industry and where we continuously have to innovate and to keep getting better, otherwise we get left behind.  So there’s some really good ways that I’ve seen Google culture being brought into the classroom; so for example, 20 percent of the time.  It’s like Google, one day a week, engineers have a lot to work on.  Projects that are unrelated to the specific coursework but still supporting the Google effort.  So in education, I’ve seen schools where they have one day a week, students get to do sort of project based learning or doing extracurricular activity that’s outside of their scope, just to get them more exposure to other parts of the real world.  So that’s been really exciting and it’s been rewarding to see how I’ve been able to share some of these bits and pieces they actually do thrust into the classroom.  Another thing we do very regularly, within Google, sort of this peer to peer training.  So we get Googlers to come up once a week to speak about what are some of their passions and actually train other Googlers on programming or on other specific skillsets and Googlers and just sign up to this just like how you guys have signed up for this hangout, and I think an education could work the same way.  You see all the time that students now, the roles have reversed in some ways.  The students can now become the teachers in many different settings.  So that’s been really exciting, I think, encouraging the level of innovation in the classroom.

Mike:   Yeah absolutely, it’s amazing.  Just on that, you’re talking about continuous improvement and you guys are always pushing the boundaries trying to innovate, innovate, innovate and I think that’s what makes Google so great, and I think all schools could learn some lessons there.  In terms of the way you measure your success, obviously a lot of that’s around data.  Everyone always talks about Google being this data-driven company.  What does that sort of look like in terms of sort of how to break that down and why does it matter so much?  Why does it matter to measure what you’re doing so closely?

Suan:   Yeah so, internally at Google, we measure everything.  Everything from how efficient employee time is being used to what are some of the bureaucratic things that we can cut out to make our employees more efficient.  So a more recent example would be, you may have read about how we do hiring at Google, and we actually look at across all the interviews that we’ve conducted all the applicants that have applied to Google and how we actually go through the process of reviewing their resumes and inviting them for onsite interviews and getting feedback from them even after they’ve been hired at Google.  It becomes a science.  It becomes a science when you have a lot of steps of data that you can actually use to refine the way that you run the process and I think how it highly relates to education is similar.  I think over time as we start collecting more information, and as schools start collecting more information about how their students are using technology, as an example, how they interact with one another and how they perform on standardized assessments.  That’s all data steps that can help improve the way that their students learn and the way that teachers teach.

Mike:   Yeah, that’s absolutely spot on I think and just coming back to your peer reviews you were talking about there, I think you’re suggesting that that can work in the education environment as well.  You’re saying that we can share

. A lot of schools have that set up already.  Can you see any other ways that could be used?

Suan:   Yeah absolutely, I think technology allows us to cross boundaries now to where, take as an example, this hangout.  We’ve got registrants to 31, is it 31 countries, Mike?

Mike:   Yeah 31.

Suan:   All around the world and we don’t all have to be physically in one place to learn from one another and even in a school, you can bring in guest speakers, with technologies like Google Hangout and Skype and Face Time, because you invite guest speakers into the classrooms where they don’t actually need to be there and you can ask questions to the guest speakers and so forth.  Likewise, again, I’ve seen schools where they have brown bag lunches.  They have lunch and learn, whatever they want to call them, where teachers bring their lunches into a common area, into a staff room, and they share ideas on they’ve used some bit of technology or some learning they apply in the classroom.  So learning doesn’t have to be limited to being in the same place all the time.

Mike:   Yeah that’s really good.  One of the things I love that [crosstalk] they, you know the Google Plus, the Google Glass video where the scientist goes in wearing the Googles Glass into that Laboratories where they tested the protons and neutrons and so on and it’s absurd and just has the guys on there and it’s just great that they can bring an expert into their physics class to talk about some great concepts and it’s really good.  I’ll tell you another one where a surgeon was [crosstalk] teaching a Biology class.  That was really cool too.  Sorry Blake, go ahead.

Blake:  I think more than that as well, they’re able to get into places that the average teacher wouldn’t be able to.  I mean, that one that you’re talking about.  He’s one of the only civilians that’s ever been in there, sort of nonscientist person and he’s able to record that

.  That’s just transcending boundaries we couldn’t do before.  So that stuff really excited me a lot.

Suan:   Yeah and I think Google Glass specifically, I mean, the first person view that you can present as an educator I think changes the way that you can interact with your users because again you can bring that technology into anywhere.  I think by your mentioning we’ve seen soldiers do live surgery where they can broadcast that first person view back to a classroom of medical students.  We’ve seen reporters on the front lines of battlefields use Google Glass and sort of being there in that moment, it’s sort of priceless and it just changes the way that you approach learning in many ways.

Mike:   Absolutely, so I can see a few questions coming through about measuring innovation.  I guess measurement is an interesting word in one sense because you can gather data but then you’ve got to use it effectively and so on.  I guess every school would apply it differently.  I’ve seen some good examples of it and I guess in every school we’ve got examples that are good and examples that probably lack a little bit of innovation around that as well.  I’m interested, what happens when gathering that data at Google.  Does that go back to sort of analysis team, or what’s the process in that?

Suan:   We use a lot of that information for our own purposes.  So I’ll give an example.  I think people might have heard about the M&M story at Google and so, at Google, we have micro kitchens that are pretty well stocked with snacks, healthy snacks, unhealthy snacks and drinks and other beverages and one of the story about M&M’s was we had M&M’s just sort of sitting out in the open and the micro kitchen was visible to all employees, and what was because it was there, a lot of Googlers, we just go up and just grab a handful of M&M’s, or put them into a bowl and take them back to the desk.  Some employees wanted to look at could the facility find a way to reduce sugar intake without removing M&M’s all together, and so just looking at the way our own employees consumed M&M’s in our own micro kitchen, what they did was they actually hid, instead of having it out in the open, they actually put it behind a closed door in the micro kitchen, so are still within access but the fact that they removed it from, so it was out of view, actually reduced our M&M intake by I think something like 60 percent, I’m not sure.  It was amazing.  So they didn’t remove it all together.  It’s just that it was sort of not front and center.  It’s out of sight, out of mind for a lot of the Googlers.  So little things like that, just sort of being able to measure how we use our own internal tools or eat our own internal snacks have been useful for us as well.  Not to mention we’re all healthier, a little bit healthier as well.

Mike:   Yeah and I guess it’s not about one big standardized test at the end of, once a year.  It’s about, I guess, a lot of micro tests, I guess, along the way, isn’t it, which probably sparked by just somebody being inquisitive about something and deciding to measure it.  So I think sometimes school get caught up in the big heaps at the end of the year or the E12 leaving certificate or some form of standardized test, but everything leads up to that and if you don’t pass that well then your world falls apart.  I think it’s good to recognize that in this, I guess, in your culture of innovation and testing, it seems to me, being from the outside, that it’s all these little micro tests that form a picture.  Would that be true?

Suan:   Yeah, one of the things that frustrate me and other educators I’m sure, is the whole theory around we know that kids and students learn in different ways yet we continue to test them in the same way.  At Google it’s the same way.  We hire people from all walks of life, but we don’t treat them all the same.  So every Google employee has his own set of, we call them objectives and key results and these are sort of your KPIs that other corporate companies use and they’re actually decided by the individual and you go through them with your manager who makes sure that’s align to the team goes and that you run according to your own objectives.  So I think along those lines it’d be nice if education could be done the same way where students pick the topics that they want to work on and they get assessed on how well they perform in those subject areas.

Mike:   Yeah for sure.  I don’t know how I could get on my soapbox right now, but I’ll wait, in fact in the next fort night we’re going to have Chris Hartline.  He’s going to talk a lot about assessments.  So we’ll talk about that some more later on in a fort night’s time.  Hey, I want to jump on and just ask you a little bit about what’s coming down the track, a little bit about your road map and so on.  Are you able to, I know there’s a lot of stuff you can’t talk about, but is there anything that you can share with us about what’s coming, especially in the EDU’s faze?

Suan:   Sure, so there are a lot of major improvements coming.  First off with the Girapp Education Suite, which a lot of our listeners and users are on, we’re definitely making major improvements in both sort of functionality of the drive products as well as improvements in mobility.  So I’ll talk first about Google apps and Google drive.  We’re making sure that we’ve saw sort of, if you’ve been using Google apps for a while now, the two biggest pay points was, the first one was offline and the second was sort of the how do you incorporate social into the aspect we shall talk about in a bit.  So offline, we now have offline in Gmail calendar, Google Doc Spreadsheets and presentation.  So that’s sort of checked off the box.  Now nobody, the biggest complaint in the past used to be if we are on a plane, you drop connection, you can’t use the Google services and now you can, three or four things you can.  So that’s checked off the list.  The other bit around social, a lot of people questioning what is Google Plus’s role in education and where does it fit in?  Where does it fit in the core services?  And especially if you’re under 13, you can’t use Google Plus.  So I think we’re still making improvements into how we sort of figure out catering to the under 13 age group.  But in the over 13 age group, I think we’re excited to see that socially Google Plus is becoming.  Hangout is becoming the biggest driver for us.  We see a number of people using Hangouts in education.  It’s been tremendous.  Being able to record stuff, being able to go back and re-watch webinars that you may have random, that’s just invaluable.  Professors are using it.  We’re seeing all walks of education.  The ability to record and go back and watch videos and live interactions have been priceless.  And communities; we’re seeing Google Plus, the difference between Google Plus, or the big difference we’re making now has been those rise of communities and being sort of an interest based platform, as opposed to Facebook and Twitter.  So a lot of different communities are coming up from the ground and people with common interests and from all walks of life are connecting online.  So that’s really exciting for us.

Blake:  I think it’s exciting for schools as well.  We’ve noticed a lot of teachers are picking up Google Plus.  They’re great communities.  Setting pages is a great way to sort of interact with the students together and everyone can work together.  They can ask questions.  They can propose questions.  They can add their own work and they’re embedding results, which is really great.  I guess the concerns that we have at the school; I was trying to make it work across the whole school by I’m always leaving under 13 thing being

and just how we tackle that, and also the public side of it, the kids will be getting news thrown at them and possibility of priority material and things like that.  Is there anything down the path that might be protecting us from that?  Or is there anything you can comment on that?

Suan:   Yeah I feel that looking at bringing Google Plus into, as an enterprise service for those of you who are Google apps administrators, that means being into it as a core service.  So you’re able to set management sort of controls of the Google Plus and how you use Google Plus.  One of the debates that we had internally was how do we enable Google Plus as a platform without being too silo and being too out guarded because the whole notion of being a social network is it should be open.  So I think with communities, we’ve been able to answer some of those questions.  But I think over time we’ll continue to reiterate and improve on the product as well.

Blake:  Yeah absolutely, that sounds great, especially on the community side of things works really well.  You can set them up as private and just have your kids invited to them and work collaboratively with class and not have to worry about the external.  So from that point of view, yeah, that’s great.  If that stuff’s going to continue to expand and we have a bit more control at the school.  Some schools we’re not too worried about that in terms of work going out publically.  But I know a lot of independents and Catholic schools and things like that are really concerned about what goes online and

as well, obviously they’re very concerned about it.  But yeah I think that sounds really good.

Suan:   Yeah absolutely, I think there’s nothing more important to us than the privacy and security of our users.  So we do take that very seriously.  In hence, we have taken measures for Google apps for education as an enterprise product, separate terms of service on how we manage and use the data that’s stored on our servers and how we actually encourage identities not to be stolen on our servers as well.  So we absolutely take that very seriously.

Blake:  Just on that actually, on digital safety, we have a couple of questions that were submitted barely before the show.  Just around commissions and things like that.  One from Tim Cosser in Queensland, saying “When third party apps want permission to view and download from drive, is there a risk or concern that files can be copied or taken, how do we know what to trust and allow and what not to allow?”

Suan:   That’s a great question, Tim.  I think just like any other regular web service, I think you should definitely check out, most providers whether it’s on the Google Play store or the Chrome web store, they are required to provide terms and conditions of their service.  So if you are concerned about a specific app, to obviously check that out beforehand before allowing them to access some of your services and they are required to provide documentation around which specific services that they want to be able to access.  So it could be your contacts, it could be your mail; it could be your calendar, etcetera.  So definitely do check it out.  That’s one area that every responsible administrator should make sure that they go through before enabling, and also obviously read the reviews of what other users have said.  There’s nothing more powerful than the crowd source nature of technology nowadays.

Mike:   Yeah, for sure.  There was a question from AJ, who’s actually a fellow Google certified teacher down in South Australia and he was just referring back to, that I call maybe some people in Australia would have seen the financial review.  I’ve wrote an article, just about a week or so ago just talking about how data might have been used on student accounts and so on.  Obviously that’s a huge topic.  But have you got an answer that would be able to talk to some of those schools that are a little bit concerned about that?

Suan:   Sure, so Google absolutely, we absolutely run analytics on our own products.  I think you’ll find in our privacy policy that we absolutely do scan and index emails for our own internal purposes and these could be things like spell checking, spam protection, advertising.  This scanning is 100% automated.  It cannot be turned off.  For Google apps for education, specifically, ads are actually turned off by default.  So administrators actually have to go in to turn on advertising if they want their users to see advertising.  So straight away that is a difference between what we allow a Google apps for education administrators to do.  That’s just sort of a free consumer gmail.com accounts.  That’s the big difference.  One other fact that I don’t think a lot of people know is when students are signed into their Google for education account and they visit Google.com, they actually don’t see any ads at all.  So we have actually turned off ads in the Google search results for students when they’re signed into their Google apps for education accounts.

Mike:   Okay I didn’t know all that.  That’s really cool.  I think a combination of having those policies put in place by the school, the ads are turned off and so on, if you had peer reviewing, we’ll put a link in the show notes that you sent to me earlier in the week on the safety setting from Google as well and people can check that out as well. There’s one question that just came back and it was more along the question of road maps.  For those of you who don’t know, Google have a Google certified trainer program that’s just been rolled about that’s being re-released and there are a few questions that have just come in on the Q&A app just asking what that process is.  How to look at it today is that open to the general public yet or is it still in beta view?  Do you know?

Suan:   No, it’s live, it’s open to the public.  So anybody can access our new training center.  I think it’s google.com/education/training if I’m not wrong.  Mike, if you want to verify that for me.  It is a completely revamped training site for anyone that is using any of the Google tools.  It starts from the very basic level all the way up to your Google educator trainer status.  The reason that we’ve done this is we’ve actually seen a lot of teachers and educators and education evangelists out there ask for more information or clarity around how we rank and how we plan to program many of our certification processes.  So we hope that the new process will make it a lot clearer for people to be able to access various exams on our site as well.  I’m not sure, I hope it’s not broken, but as far as I know, I just looked the other day and I was able to access it, so if it is broken, please let me know somehow by the chat and we’ll definitely get on it to fix it.

Mike:   Yeah the basic exam gets you to, about, question 21 and then it stops, out of 30.  I’ll talk to you about it after because it’s just a couple of questions that could be reworded.  But someone was just asking about the status.  So the good thing about the new exam structure, or the new course structure, is that there are different status levels now.  So you don’t have to just do the whole thing.  You can actually work your way up to it.  So I thought that was a really nice addition, and that link is google.com/edu/training.  We’ll put that in the show notes as well.

Blake:  Yeah, awesome.  Yeah I’ve done the certified individual on the old system and the new one, the way it works, it’s really smart.  It’s really good.  But what I wouldn’t mind doing now is change gears for a minute.  So where I work here at McKinnon Secondary College,

about 750 crime books and they’ve been fantastic.  We get a lot of questions surrounding what they are, what they do, where they’re headed, and it seems to be a huge amount of growth and momentum in them.  I’d be really interested to know are there devices coming?  How many schools have deployed roughly, where are we at?

Suan:   Yeah absolutely.  We’ve been really excited about the growth of Chromebooks.  When we first started, we launched Chromebooks about two years ago.  I think no one predicted the success that we’ve seen in this space.  For example, 2013, last year, we started the year with two manufacturers, Sampso and Acer, and we actually ended the year with eight.  The eight being Samso, Acer, Dell, Anobo, LG, Asus, yeah so there’s about eight of them and I’m sorry [crosstalk].  We’re excited that even the old years are on board.  This is justification to us that there is a market for the device, and the reason we’re seeing such strong uptake, specifically in K to 12, is because it’s just like Google.  Is this what you expect from Google?  It’s very simple, it’s easy to use, it’s lightweight, and it’s shareable.  One of the biggest aspects of the Chromebook is you can pick it up, sign into your account, and then log out and you can hand it to the next person.  For education, that’s a brilliant way of thinking about how you can share devices.  So no longer are devices tied to one individual.  It’s been really good to see the success, both here and in New Zealand, I think we have a few hundred schools that have come on board.  Many of them are still trying to see if it fits within their existing ecosystem and where they want to go with their technology vision as well.

Blake:  Absolutely, and I think one of the biggest things, and I know, speaking as administrator, in terms of making decisions about devices and every years we have to buy new devices and look at one time programs and all that.  The great thing about Chromebooks is we can actually have a commitment to getting that one to one environment happening where we can guarantee kids are going to have a laptop.  If theirs is broken, if they’ve lost their battery, we can give them a loan one for the day.  They can log in and all their data is there.  So it’s reducing a lot of that overhead and I think it makes it very attractive to school that obviously don’t have a lot of time to do all this stuff and don’t have a lot of resources, in terms of buying expensive machines.  Definitely some exciting stuff happening there and something I’ve noticed recently as well is with the new

720 P, the brand new one.  It’s been it’s moved to touch on Chromebooks.  Is that something you think is going to be a big deal with Chromebooks?  Is that something is a direction for Google?

Suan:   I think what the Acer device, the C720P is one example that the OEMs have now come up with different.  They’re innovating different ways to engage with the audience.  So having a touch interface because so many schools have tablets and I think that process is why not bring the best of both worlds with a laptop that has a touch screen still within a very affordable price and there are other form factors coming as well.  You’ve got Chrome boxes, which is sort of your small Apple TV size box that can power a projector or an existing screen.  We’ve got a Chrome base which is something that LG has made.  It’s just sort of your stock replacement device that just runs Chrome.  It’s just a screen.  You just plug in your keyboard into it.  So we’re excited to see the innovation that many of our OEM partners are putting into this space as well.  I think there will be a different used case for many of these different products in the education circle as well.

Blake:  Yeah absolutely, it’s been certainly an exciting time [crosstalk] to deploy.  Sorry Mike, go ahead.

Suan:   I was just curious to hear, from your experience as an administrator, what are you hearing from the teachers and the students in terms of how they’ve been using the devices?

Blake:  A lot of positive things.  The teachers are loving the fact that we can get into a class, be online, operating the classroom within two minutes.  No more booting up, no more some kids don’t have their laptops because they’re on loan, to being sent away.  We’re able to provide a system now where teachers can walk into a classroom and know whatever they’ve got planned is going to work.  So from that point of view it’s been fantastic, and the students love them.  The first day they got them

rolling over each other

to try and get to their box and unbox them and see what it’s all about, and to be honest, it really fits being with the E7s, it really fits what they need to do.  They don’t need to go into photoshop, they don’t need to do all that kind of high level computing.  They just need to

put together to collaborate to find the resources to working documents.  So from that point of view things have been going really, really well.  They’re really happy.

Suan:   And I just heard from a fellow who is a certified teacher, Matt Richards, up at Park Macquiare, the cost savings that he made from going with the Chromebooks, he actually used the cost savings to upgrade his WiFi infrastructure.  So now he has a ridiculous one Gigabyte pipe going to his school with unlimited quota.  So again, what’s the opportunity cost of going with other devices?  That’s something that administrators have to think of as well.

Mike:   Yeah so that’s cool.  I just read in a comment here that says 300 Chromebooks, one to one, across three rural primary schools, low social economic area in New Zealand and she just says the students are engaged and they’re working enthusiastically; so that’s really good feedback on that as well.

Suan:   Thank you Monica.

Mike:   Excellent.  So here I’ve got a few questions that are rolling in on the app and a couple that have come in before we started.  There’s a questions, an interesting one, I guess it’s not along the lines of Chromebooks, but it’s an interesting one.  Just about a teacher over in America is wanting to use YouTube videos in their class.  But they want to edit little bits and pieces and just wondering is it okay for education users to be able to take a YouTube video and chop it up and repurpose it.  Have you got any advice on that, Suan?

Suan:   Yeah, only if the video has been shared on creative comments I think you can do that.  If it hasn’t been shared and sort of copywrited, I think you have to contact the copywrite owner to sort of get his permission to do so, just like any intellectual property that belongs to the creator of that video.

Mike:   Yeah fair enough.  We should give a good shout out to, we’ve got Sarah on.  She started, it must be just after 1:00 in the morning and she’s online, so hello to all you Americans.  We appreciate your passion.  That’s awesome.  There are a couple of questions that came through on differentiation and helping students meet targets and so on.  I think what we’ll do is save those questions for our next E-learning conversation when we’re going to have Chris on.  Blake, do you just want to do a little bit of an intro for Chris?  You know him fairly well.  He’s just down the road from you.

Blake:  Yeah absolutely, so Chris is an E-learning teacher at John Winnet’s sign school.  He’s really big, he’s all about assessment, somebody who knows assessment and how that sort of fits in with the tools to sort of achieve that in the best possible case.  So yeah, he’ll be coming on talking about assessment tracking and feedback and he’s really big into Google Plus as well, so we’ve spoken a lot about Google Plus today and just how he’s using that, using it with his kids, what’s worked, what hasn’t; just the little things to watch for and all that sort of stuff.  So yeah he’s going to be great to have on and really dig deep down into it.  I know he’ll have plenty to say. So it’s going to be great.

Mike:   That’s great.  Sarah has just put a question in and said “Is there a way to start any YouTube videos in a certain place?”  There is a script.  Do you know what it is off the top of your head?  I can research it, where you type it into the URL and it starts it a few minutes in.  Do you guys remember what that is?

Blake:  Yeah you can just place…

Suan:   You can place a mark on, I assume this is for sharing a YouTube video, you can actually pick where you want the video to start so whoever you’re sharing it with doesn’t have to watch the whole video.  They can just start where you want it, and it’s a marker within the YouTube interface that you actually can pick where it starts and then just pop into the URL that you share with your user.

Blake:  Definitely put that in the comments for sure.

Mike:   Yeah, and how about that Google Chrome web app called Video Notes where you can actually target, you take notes and it actually marks the video as you go, and I think that’s really a great app too.  So you can say start here, finish here.  But we can put some links to that one in the show notes as well.  That’s cool.  Alright so I wanted to just change gears a little bit.  We thought it’d be great, as part of these E-learning conversations, just to give a quick like a quick pedagogy tip and a quick technology tip, you might have seen that our tagline is where pedagogy and technology collide.  I’m very much in love with changing the way we think about teaching and learning and Blake is very much down that path as well.  But being a leader of a IT department he’s got a certain view on that.  As a teacher, I’ve got a view and so what we want to do is often see how our two world views collide and where we find some synergy around that.  So we thought, every time we do this, we just have a little segment and Suan, you can be more than happy to jump in as well.  So here’s my little pedagogy tip for the teachers out there.  One of the things that I want you to think about it that when we communicate, we communicate in pictures and so if I say the word, to you, elephant, what you see in your mind is an elephant and so you don’t actually see the letter that spell the word elephant, you actually see an elephant.  But you don’t see the same elephant that I’m seeing.  So unless you’re seeing an elephant that is pink, that is small enough to fit on a 20 cent piece, that’s got a tail so long that it could go around the world three times, the more content I give you, the bigger the picture becomes and the clearer things get and often when we’re speaking to our students, we often speak to them, and the picture that’s in our head is different to the picture that’s in their head.  So I want to give you a task over the next couple of weeks.  At the beginning of every lesson, I want you to have a goal for your class, a goal for your students and with that goal, I want you to have a very clear picture in your head what that looks like, what it feels like, sounds like, and then I want you to find a way to communicate that to your students so that they can have the same picture that you’ve got.  When we workshopped this in our staff development days and so on, the feedback that I get from this generally is huge in the fact that it can change your culture so quickly.  So there’s my little quick pedagogy tip for the fort night.  Blake, what have you got?

Blake:  That’s great.  Well basically I just wanted to go into the tech side of things, just about something new and interesting that’s happening around Google Sheets which is really cool.  I’m about ready to being a spreadsheet guru in the office.  So I’ll begin just by letting everybody know on this Google Sheets stuff, so with spreadsheets there’s a whole lot of new features coming and their opt in, so you have to click in to access the new Google Sheets stuff.  But there’s a whole range of improvements now.  The speed of it is lightning fast.  You can fill out 200 columns with complex formulas in two seconds and it just does it.  So from that point of view, things are great.  They all work offline now.  I think there were issues initially with the old sheets working offline.  Now it’s all offline compatible.  Everything works beautifully.  There’s great formula editing now where you can just jump into the document, start typing the formula, and it’ll sort of walk you through each of the steps.  They’re really simplifying things and a few new functions in there as well.  [Audio glitch] for me are just these filter views so if you keep spreadsheets on classes and things like that, you can create a new sheet that’s a filtered view of the data sheet.  So you can always just filter it, but rather than it just being for you that filter, now you can share that filter with everyone.  So you just share specific classes or kids that are at risk, or whatever it might be, that specific view without changing the initial data, so some really cool stuff happening now I’m really excited about, definitely.  So there are a few things that don’t work with it.  Google app scripts, I’ve had quite a few questions on this since the new sheets came out.  So there are really not a lot of people who formula, form range, and those things.  They’re not compatible yet.  None of the API calling all of that backend stuff is working yet.  But definitely check it out.  Once you opt in on that, everything you create from then on, all the sheets you create will be new sheets.  So definitely check it out.  I know Mike’s ready to get in there and have a go as well.

Mike:   Well I have a question for you.  I’ve been too scared to opt in.  I haven’t had time to look at it.  If I opt in, can I opt out so I can keep using my scripts, or is it all in and that’s it?

Blake:  Yeah so once you opt in, from then on all the sheets you create are the new format.  But you can always click back and say no, I want to go back to the old one; so then when you create the new ones they’re in the old format.  So yeah, it’s really streamline.  But I’m not sure how long that’ll be like that.  I’m sure we’ll be streaming in the next few weeks.  It’ll go over to prime time over a few months.  I’m not sure how long that’s tested for.  But in early days it’s been amazing, like really, really cool.

Mike:   Suan, have you got any info on that?

Suan:   No, just like what Blake said, I think it’s coming.  The reason why it hasn’t worked is because the new Google Sheets is a brand new infrastructure that they moved the entire quote base onto.  So in order to do that, in order to allow things like offline functionality, we have to rewrite the code for a lot of the Google Sheets functionality, and so some of the things that used to work on the old functionality haven’t quite synced over to the new infrastructure yet.  But we anticipate, I mean, script gallery scripts specifically have been variably used in education space, so we definitely want to bring that back into the new sheets.  I don’t know specifically if it will be in the same format.  But I’m sure it will be incorporated in some way or another.

Mike:   Very cool, and I’ve certainly seen a lot of people talking, so that’s been great.

Blake:  Absolutely, and on that as well, they’re always saying these things aren’t available yet.  So I think they are going to get there.  Things like notification rules, you can’t set that up anymore.  I think spell check’s missing at the moment, a few little things, but definitely just check them out.  You can always get back if things aren’t working for you.  But it’s been twice as fast.  It’s super-fast.  You can really tell they’ve built it up from nothing.  It’s really good.

Mike:   Very cool.  Excellent.  Alright, so I just wanted to start to wrap up.  We’ve been going for 45 minutes which is, time just flies which is great.  That’s cool.  What I thought would be really handy to do too is just at the end of every one of these E-learning conversations, and obviously Blake and I, this is something new that we’re just trying to start and help as many teachers as we can.  It’s just at the end, just saying where we’re going to be in the next couple of weeks, and if you’re in those particular areas, we’d love to catch up, have a coffee, have a chat and hang out.  So this week I’m heading up to Townsville and we’ll be spending a couple of days up there just helping some of the Catholic Diocese teachers, really dig into some of the pedagogy.  If you guy are looking for a group of teachers that are really doing some great stuff with Google apps, and not just in terms of here’s a new flashy toy, let’s play with it, but users really trying to change their pedagogy and the way their students learn.  Townsville Diocese are really doing some fantastic stuff, so really looking forward to being up there.  And also got a few days in Sydney and hanging out in Sydney, so if you’re in Sydney, or you’re up in Townsville, and you want to catch up and say hi, then by all means, shoot us a message.  So Blake, what are you up to?

Blake:  Alright, so this week I’ve got all sorts of things going on.  I’m not going to be flying around the world like Mike does, but I’ll around in Melbourne if anyone wants to catch up

definitely with an incredible to see the changes to the sheet app.  So we look forward to that and just as sort of a side note as well I’m involved with a product called I-Newsletter, which is about taking the stale old PDF newsletter of schools and really modernizing them, getting them out, helping with communication strategies a lot of schools want to employ and about getting photos and all this stuff into newsletters, getting a bit more interactive like on mobile devices, all that sort of stuff.  So yeah definitely check that out as well.  Just go goinewsletter.com and we’ll put a link in the notes of the show.  But yeah, that’s about it for me.  Thank you everyone for tuning in.  It’s been amazing.  Thank you, Suan.  It’s always good to have a talk to you.  Some good insights about where things are headed and everything, and I’m going to just sign off here.  Thank you very much.

Mike:   Alright, catch you later Blake.  So thanks for having us.  Suan, whereabouts are you going to be this week?

Suan:   I’m in Sydney this week, heading up to Brisbane for a couple day next week and then in two I’ll be in Tokyo and the week after I’m in Manila then back to Sydney.

Mike:   Very good.  I like it.  You certainly get to see some good parts of the world.

Suan:   It is.  It is.  Education is everywhere.  That’s the exciting thing.

Mike:   Excellent, that’s great.  Say guys, we just want to thank you for being a part of today’s E-learning conversation and hopefully you found it interesting and informative.  We didn’t get to all the questions that were put through the Q&A app.  We got to most of the questions that were submitted.  If you’re watching this video and you didn’t register, then what we’d love you to do is just go over to googleappsforedu.com/2 and there we’re going to have this video, we’re going to have a transcript for you, all the show notes will be there, and there will also be a registration link for the next one with Chris into next time.  The reason we ask you to register is just so that we’ve got your email address and we can send you all the show notes, all the links, the video recording, the transcription, all of that just gets emailed out to you.  Plus you get to know when the next one is and how to register for that as well.  So once again thanks for that, for all of you that invited other people to do this.  I know there’s a group of teachers in Perth that were having a light lunch and grabbing a bottle of wine and some cheese and biscuits, so I guess you may be sent the kids home.   I don’t know.  But there’s different ways people are getting creative to hang out and just learn together, so we really appreciate that and we’ll see you on the next one.  So thanks guys.  I appreciate your time, your energy and your passion.  It’s been a great conversation.

Suan:   Thank you.  Thank you everyone again.

Mike:   Alright, we’ll see you later.

Suan:   Bye-bye, thanks guys.


Google Certified Trainer site: www.google.com/edu/training/certifications/ 

Google Safety Centre: www.google.com.au/safetycentre

Suan’s blog post about students privacy and security with Google Apps

Suan’s funny video recommendation: First world problems (I find a way to show this video in all my pd sessions)

Suan’s Favourite Chrome Apps or Extensions:

  • ShortenMe
  • Keep Awake
  • Sexy Undo Close tab

Blake mentioned how he is using the new Google Sheets:  Here is a link to information about the new Google Sheets

An awesome school newsletter creation & publishing tool: iNewsletter

Mike will be in Townsville on Tuesday and Auckland on Friday.  If you’d like to enquire about having Mike train your staff contact us

Register for our next E-Learning Conversation about how to give highly effective feedback and build a culture of critique with Google’s tools.

Related Post

The right ways to enable AI at work – Tips for IT Lead

In today’s fast-paced workplace, maximizing efficiency while minimizing time spent on repetitive tasks is crucial. However, many staff members may feel unsure about integrating AI effectively, leading to missed productivity opportunities. As the IT lead, you can guide your team in harnessing AI’s power to streamline operations and save time. By providing clear guidance and


Streamline Your Workflow: Upgrade to Microsoft Graph PowerShell now!

Are you wondering what to do now that Azure AD, Azure AD Preview and MSOnline PowerShell modules are officially deprecated? It’s time to upgrade to Microsoft Graph PowerShell for a seamless experience! Simplify Your Workflow with Microsoft Graph PowerShell With the official deprecation of Azure AD, Azure AD Preview, and MSOnline PowerShell modules Microsoft Graph


Embracing Technological Change: A Leadership Guide

In today’s fast-paced world, technological advancements are reshaping industries at an unprecedented rate. As leaders, it’s crucial to navigate these transformations effectively and inspire our teams not only to adapt but thrive. The challenge comes when we want to integrate the authentic use and integration of technology as part of this change. Here are three


How well do you use the
Apple Apps Google Workspace Microsoft 365
tools in your workplace?

Find out if you’re working with the tools OR if you’ve got the
tools working for you.

What Industry Are You In?

Using Apple Apps, Google Workspace or Microsoft 365?

What Type of user are you?

🫣 Entry User | 🤹 Skilled User | 👑 Elite User

Take the quiz to find out. 

Privacy Policy

Using Technology Better Privacy Commitment


We hold the privacy of your personal information in the highest regard.

Using Technology Better regards customer privacy as an important part of our relationship with our customers. The following privacy policy applies to all Using Technology Better users, and conforms to Internet privacy standards.

This policy will be continuously assessed against new technologies, business practices and our customers’ needs.

If you have questions or concerns regarding this statement, you should first contact the support team on our Contact Us Page.

Collection of Information

In order to use the Using Technology Better website, we may require information from you in order to provide the best service possible.

All correspondence may also be collected and stored, particularly in regard to sales, support and accounts, including Email.

Any information collected by Using Technology Better is collected via correspondence from you or your company. This may be via the telephone, Email, mail, fax or directly through our website.

Visitors and customers of japan.usingtechnologybetter.com will have their information shared back to DAIWABO INFORMATION SYSTEM CO., LTD. and DIS Service & Solution Co., Ltd.

Use of Collection Information

Any details collected from Using Technology Better customers is required in order to provide you with our

products and/or services, and a high level of customer service.

Correspondence is recorded in order to provide service references, and to assist in our staff development.

Web Site Use Information

Similar to other commercial Web sites, our Web sites utilize a standard technology called “cookies” (see explanation below, “What Are Cookies?”) and web server log files to collect information about how our Web site is used.

Information gathered through cookies and Web server logs may include the date and time of visits, the pages viewed, time spent at our Web site, and the Web sites visited just before and just after our Web site.

Storage of Collected Information

The security of your personal information is important to us. When you enter sensitive information (such as credit card numbers) on our website, we encrypt that information using secure socket layer technology (SSL).

When Credit Card details are collected, we simply pass them on in order to be processed as required. We never permanently store complete Credit Card details.

We follow generally accepted industry standards to protect the personal information submitted to us, both during transmission and once we receive it.

If you have any questions about security on our Website, you can email us at <ContactEmail>.

Access to Collected Information

If your personally identifiable information changes, or if you no longer desire our service, you may correct, update, delete or deactivate it by emailing us at <ContactEmail>.


If you purchase a product or service from us, we may request certain personally identifiable information from you.

You may be required to provide contact information such as:



Postal address

Your school or organisation

Financial information (such as credit card number, expiration date, name on card, card billing address).

We use this information for billing purposes and to fill your orders. If we have trouble processing an order, we will use this information to contact you.


Using Technology Better uses personally identifiable information for essential communications, such as


Accounts information

Critical service details.

We may also use this information for other purposes, including some promotional Emails.

If at any time a customer wishes not to receive such correspondence, they can request to be removed from any mailing lists by contacting support.

You will be notified when your personal information is collected by any third party that is not our agent/service provider, so you can make an informed choice as to whether or not to share your information with that party.

Third Parties

Using Technology Better may at its discretion use other third parties to provide essential services on our site or for our business processes.

We may share your details as necessary for the third party to provide that service.

These third parties are prohibited from using your personally identifiable information for any other purpose.

Using Technology Better does not share any information with third parties for any unknown or unrelated uses.

What Are Cookies?

A cookie is a very small text document, which often includes an anonymous unique identifier. When you visit a Web site, that site’s computer asks your computer for permission to store this file in a part of your hard drive specifically designated for cookies.

Each Web site can send its own cookie to your browser if your browser’s preferences allow it, but (to protect your privacy) your browser only permits a Web site to access the cookies it has already sent to you, not the cookies sent to you by other sites.

Browsers are usually set to accept cookies. However, if you would prefer not to receive cookies, you may alter the configuration of your browser to refuse cookies.

If you choose to have your browser refuse cookies, it is possible that some areas of our site will not function as effectively when viewed by the users.

A cookie cannot retrieve any other data from your hard drive or pass on computer viruses.

How Do We Use Information We Collect from Cookies?

As you visit and browse our Web site, the site uses cookies to differentiate you from other users. In some cases, we also use cookies to prevent you from having to log in more than is necessary for security.

Cookies, in conjunction with our Web server’s log files, allow us to calculate the aggregate number of people visiting our Web site and which parts of the site are most popular. This helps us gather feedback to constantly improve our Web site and better serve our clients.

Cookies do not allow us to gather any personal information about you and we do not intentionally store any personal information that your browser provided to us in your cookies.


We reserve the right to disclose your personally identifiable information as required by law and when we believe that disclosure is necessary to protect our rights and/or comply with a judicial proceeding, court order, or legal process served on our Website.


Links on the Using Technology Better site to external entities are not covered within this policy. The terms and conditions set out in this privacy statement only cover the domain name of usingtechnologybetter.com

Changes to Privacy Policy

If we decide to change our privacy policy, we will post those changes to this privacy statement, and other places we deem appropriate so that you are aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it.

We reserve the right to modify this privacy statement at any time, so please review it periodically. If we make material changes to this policy, we will not use the personal information you have submitted to us under this Privacy Policy in a manner that is materially inconsistent with this Privacy Policy, without your prior consent

Delivery Policy

Most goods are digitally delivered instantly via email.  Our services may be delivered either via an online medium or live in person.

For our online delivery see below.  For services delivered live onsite, please refer to our speaker agreement form which is emailed to you on confirmation of booking.

Refund Policy

We do not offer refunds or returns unless we cannot supply goods or services or the goods or services are not delivered as promised.

Australian law is the governing body for all work, goods and services supplied by Using Technology Better.

Marketing Release

Using Technology Better (UTB) may film, record, and photograph me (the results of which are the “Recordings”). UTB may also incorporate into any production(s) any separate content (e.g., quotes, testimonials, biographical information, profiles, photos, videos, sound recordings, artwork, etc.) I provide to UTB or approve in writing (“Materials”).


I grant to UTB an irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide, royalty-free license to, in its sole discretion, (i) edit, translate, and modify the Recordings and the Materials, (ii) attribute the Recordings and Materials to me by my name, age, and city and state of residence, (iii) incorporate the Recordings and the Materials into content to promote UTB, its programs, or products (“Content”), and (iv) publicly use, distribute, reproduce, create derivative works from, and perform/display the Content, and any excerpts thereof, in any language.

2. No Compensation.

I grant this permission without any financial or other obligation of any nature.


For any issues or concerns please contact us