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MON: A Leap Of Faith: How Switching To G Suite For Education Can Influence Open Practice (Phill Grimes)

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Phill Grimes
1 January 2019


Making the switch to use different technologies and Open Practice can be a massive decision, but, there are many benefits to using Google's G Suite despite its currently small market share compared to Office 365 (Rayome, 2018). Influence on Open Practice is one such benefit.

Innovation often comes with big risks attached that requires a metaphorical leap of faith in order for the innovators and early adopters to begin a process of diffusion throughout an institution (Rogers, 2003).

The presentation will address initial findings into how G Suite for Education has influenced the agency of Open Practice within a Further Education college that made the leap away from a paper and Office 365 based strategy to Google’s package of Apps. The findings will address how practice has changed towards open practices, regardless of intention.

There are a number of operational issues that can plague institutions both economically and technologically that can be compounded by relying on application packages such as office 365. Education in the UK has suffered a funding crisis for a number of years that has resulted in colleges having to cut operational costs. Office 365 comes with higher costs and a more individual customisation which requires overhead costs either in internal or external staff to maintain. G suite is completely cloud based requiring only a low level onsite skill-set to maintain the administrator console. (Magnusson, 2018)

According to Professor Clayton Christensen (2014), what we should be looking at is to target innovation that can change the way students learn and is more about how technology is applied in a more peer to peer manner. He goes on to suggest many Practices which have similarities to Open Educational Practice (OEP).

The potential benefits and limits of Open Education Practice are widely reported in the literature and explored briefly in this paper. However, there is a lack of empirical data about the use of Open Educational Practices, particularly in institutions without Open Education. OEP is a broad descriptor that includes the creation, use and reuse of OER, open pedagogies, and open sharing of teaching practices (Cronin, 2017)

There is currently very little literature in regards to G suite for education, Google classroom and Google apps in the primary to tertiary (16-19) level (Bartolo, 2017) of enough breadth and depth to be meaningful.

The approach to the project has been to gain an in depth insight to the capabilities and functions of G Suite, beyond that of a simple word processor, spreadsheet, slideshow and Virtual Learning Environment Repository and explore how these functions are being used within a College, both intentionally and unintentionally focusing on Open Educational Practice.

The project gains insight from a number of sources: G Suite administrator fundamentals MOOC, Online conferences such as ALT-C and, Networking through social media, networking and interviews with Colleagues including the Vice Principal for Learning and Quality.

The presentation aims to highlight the many practices and changes that have occurred since moving to G Suite particularly regarding Open Practices. The Project does not aim to determine that G Suite is better than other platforms, but inform the audience of its possibilities to achieve strategic aims in a Further Education College.


2018 UPDATE: G Suite vs Office 365 COMPARISON - everything you should know! (2018) Youtube video, added by Magnussen, C. [online] Available at > (accessed 28th December 2018)

Bartolo, P. (2017) Integrating google apps and google chromebooks into the core curriculum: A phenomenological study of the lived experience of public school teachers, Unpublished PhD thesis, Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA

Horn, M.B., Staker, H., & Christensen, C.M. (2014)  Blended : Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools. John Wiley & Sons incorporated

Cronin, C. (2017) Openness and Praxis: Exploring the use of Open Educational Practices in Higher Education. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning  vol. 18 (5)

Rayome, A.D. (2018) How to shift your workplace from Microsoft Office to G Suite: 4 steps [online] Available at (accessed 3rd January 2019)

Rogers, E.M. (2003) Diffusion of innovations. 5th edition. Free Press

Wijaya, A. (2016) 'Analysis of Factors Affecting the Use of Google Classroom to Support Lectures', The 5th ICIBA 2016, International Conference on Information Technology and Engineering Application. Palembang-Indonesia, 19-20 February.


Extra content

Accessibility poster PowerPoint version

Phill Grimes
13:58 on 10 January 2019 (Edited 14:40 on 16 January 2019)


Could you take 2mins to answer 4 questions regarding G suite/office 365 (either before or after the presentation) - 4 question survey


Phill Grimes
12:18 on 13 February 2019 (Edited 19:31 on 14 February 2019)

Post Presentation survey - 4 questions

Could you please take 2 mins to answer this POST PRESENTATION SURVEY, many thanks

Phill Grimes
12:35 on 13 February 2019

My Project was never about which is better: G Suite for Education of Microsoft Office 365?

It's about the positive (or negative) changes that have occurred with Open Educational Practice since we made the leap to using G Suite for Education as our foundation platform for teaching.

Phill Grimes
22:22 on 14 February 2019 (Edited 22:23 on 14 February 2019)

Embedded Content

10 min comparison: G suite v Office 365 April 2017

10 min comparison: G suite v Office 365 April 2017

added by Phill Grimes

G suite v office 365: update video July 2018

G suite v office 365: update video July 2018

added by Phill Grimes


patrick shearer
11:06pm 21 January 2019

Hi Phill, 

Fantastic poster! Congratulations. Glad i never saw this version before i submitted my effort - might have chucked the towel in lol Looking forward to your presentation because we are heavily involved using Microsoft Tools just now. 


Jonathan Leese
4:39pm 29 January 2019

Hi there Phil, looking forward to seeing your work too.  I agree on the lack of literature other than blogs etc/promotional material around G Suite and less so Office 365.  i hope that i come out of your session considerably more enlightened than when I went in :)

Kenneth Simpson
6:29am 2 February 2019 (Edited 6:29am 2 February 2019)

Hi Phill,

Looking forward to this presentation as I find Google Suite much nicer to use than Open Office. I feel I haven't mastered a workflow for working offline with it yet, I have docs on my phone this is good to work on. Do you think it will remain free in future, there's always the possiblity that as it becomes more popular Google may start a subscription fee. Previously I have used Open Office which I found to be useful with the capability to output as doc files. 


Phill Grimes
9:16am 2 February 2019

A difficult one to predict.

I have interviewed staff at my place who have been going to Google for training and they get the impression that more things are coming. I asked them the same question and they didn't seem to think anytime soon was part of the plan.

I wonder whether it will be a case of they add more and more tools to a certain point, then provide a nominal "basic" package for free and then charge for the extras.

Ognjen Vukas
6:54pm 9 February 2019

Hi Phill,

I'm looking forward to your presentation as I've often found Office365 frustrating to use. This is mainly due to issues with equipment and wi-fi at my college. I use OneNote Class Notebook for writing practice, reflective posts and collaboration with students. The potential is there but the collaborative features are very difficult to use as the internet sync often fails. I haven't used the G-suite much but I am very interested in finding out how well it could perform in an FE environment. The promise of ease of use, simplicity and low overhead is an enticing one. With G suite being completely cloud based, I'm interested in how Google's cloud infrastructure performs in comparison with Microsoft's. Also, I wonder how younger students, who have less experience of using computers but are mobile savvy, perceive the two suites.

Phill Grimes
9:55pm 9 February 2019

Hi Ognjen

No pressure then! I hope I can answer these questions in the presentation, but if not please collar me afterwards. 


Sonia Pardos
2:57pm 14 February 2019

Hello Phill, Reading previous comments and after watching your presentation I have the feeling that it won’t be difficult for you to convince non-users to switch to G Suit. I never used G Suit before and I have always used Office 365 in schools (as so did the rest of my colleagues), I guess not aware of other alternatives and possibilities. Looking forward to your presentation, good luck and thank you for your help! Sonia

Phill Grimes
3:21pm 14 February 2019

No thank you (and Potenza), for your feedback.... made some changes because of it..

Vicky Hindle
9:09pm 14 February 2019

Hello Phil, 

Looking forward to this presentation. The organisation I work for switched to Google Suite for Education in 2014. What I like about Google Docs is that staff and students can collaborate on a shared document in the cloud (though I appreciate that this can be done with Microsoft Office as well, but I think Google as the edge on Microsoft in terms of ease of use and cost). 

Phill Grimes
9:30pm 14 February 2019

Ease and cost just keeps appearing over and over

Thanks Vicky

Dr Simon Ball
11:04am 19 February 2019

Hi Phill

Well done on a great presentation! Here is a summary of the comments and questions you received following your presentation (including those you may have addressed verbally). Please respond in whatever way you choose - I suspect you may wish to deal with the first few in one response!

Best wishes



  • Absolutely agree with the peer to peer engagement amongst teachers, a popular choice for development after observations.
  • What do you think are the biggest barriers to the implementation of GSuite in secondary schools?
  • i am interested in the quiet students-- why/how did the messaging work for them?
  • We have also found that students who struggle to get into class for various reasons tend to engage better with Google Classrooms.
  • Has there been any resistance from staff or students to using Google Suit?
  • As google suite isn't the de facto standard for employers, does this pose a disadvantage to learners when moving into employment?
  • Have you had any power outages, rendering G Suite impotent?
  • How easy/difficult was it to get the IT department on board?
  • Google Classroom is fantasic for students who are unable to attend school due to long term illness, but how do you implement Google Classroom across a whole school - especially when subject teachers operate in their own silos?
  • I think you are right Phill - MS have had to up their game as a result of competition from Google - everyone is a winner in this place
  • Diverse digital literacy is an interesting one - how diverse?

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