February 07, 2023
Working Collaboratively in the CDW Education Collaborative
To help IT departments establish an ideal instructional and learning environment, CDW Education created the CDW Education Collaborative, a network of K-12 technical leaders.
As Google Workspace for Education provides schools with an easy-to-use, reliable, and secure digital infrastructure, IT admins are on a mission to learn how to keep it running efficiently and how to maximize its effectiveness. In an effort to help IT departments establish an ideal instructional and learning environment, CDW Education created the CDW Education Collaborative, a network of K-12 technical leaders working together under the guidance of our experts to stay on top of EDU best practices for their Google For Education ecosystem.
The CDW Education Collaborative, or the Collaborative, is an exclusive digital and in-person community in which Google Admins learn the latest in Google for Education and Chrome updates, technical approaches, and solutions to periodic challenges. “For IT, we don’t have a lot of time to go out and network at conferences because we’re just key-stroking away. The Collaborative helps and allows us to stay plugged into what is going on out there,” explained Cynthia Stelly, IT Technician for the St. Martin Parish School District in St. Martin Parish, Louisiana.
Gregory Gillette, Coordinator of Network Services for Rockingham County Public Schools in Harrisonburg, VA, said, “The Collaborative is...a group of school districts...all trying to solve similar problems with Google Workspace. There are quarterly meetings where we get to ‘geek out’ about Google and everything related. It's a fascinating network opportunity for tech admins in the K12 sector and is also a great way to get discounts on some products.”
Members of the Collaborative receive access to monthly live streams and a library of on-demand recordings for deep-dives into the Admin console, and roundtables with Google, CDW Education, and other partners on best practices. They join an online discussion with other knowledgeable Google Workspace Admins to share lessons-learned and to hear Google Workspace for Education news. They also receive discounts on CDW Education and third-party products and services.
The Collaborative makes the adoption and management of Google Workspace much easier because schools don’t have to do it alone. The collaboration between members that takes place on the platform has provided IT departments with solutions to challenges that could have caused disruption to workflow consistency.
When asked to share an example of a challenge that information from the Collaborative assisted in solving, Heather Howe, Systems Analyst for Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, responded, “It’s hard for me to pick one thing. With the security policies and procedures I handle...I can trust you guys. Whenever I have a problem I can always ask your team to point me in the right direction to get it solved and you never fail. ”
As an active network of over 2,500 Google Admins, members save an unquantifiable amount of time, money, and resources not having to dig through dozens of blog posts, read knowledge-based articles, sit through drawn-out webinars, or trial a series of technical tools to find the solution they need. Cynthia from St. Martin Parish, Louisiana added, “We’ve gotten so much out of the Collaborative but, currently, we are working on a new work-order system for our district. I posted in the Collaborative looking for ideas and I got instant feedback. I took the top three recommendations and brought it back to my department. From there we did research on each to make a final decision instead of starting from scratch and having to look into tons of options on our own. It saved us so much time.”
Collab with Us
The Collaborative is a valuable service that builds on Google’s support. It has been reported by Collaborative members that, sometimes, Google’s support can focus more on the private business sector, which doesn’t reflect what IT admins in the realm of academia are handling on a regular basis. The Collaborative community bridges that gap by speaking their language: education.
“Oftentimes, there is some big change with Google, or it’s coming, and we don’t know the right thing to do in response to it. The Collaborative allows us to get with other school districts, bounce ideas off of them, and get an idea of what they are doing. We also get input from the experts at CDW Education to try and make the right decision.”
“When things go south, the Collaborative is there as a community where we all jump in to say, ‘ok, how can we help you? Let’s figure out a way around your problem.’”
“The ability to network with other schools made us want to join the Collaborative. There is so much information being shared by fellow technicians. We’re able to move forward with lessons learned from other people’s mistakes. It’s like having the wisdom of someone who has done your job for a long time at your fingertips.”
Meeting the Goals of Education Tech
The CDW Education Collaborative meets the strategic goal of implementing education technology in the most accessible and impactful ways. Collaborating leverages, a stored wealth of knowledge, expands the innovative capabilities of Google for Education, and enhances the skill sets of school IT admins. Together, technical leaders can transform how their schools use Google Workspace for Education for the success of their administrators, teachers, and students. “It is valuable, useful, and ‘geeky.’ The savings are definitely worth more than the cost of the Collaborative,” said Gregory from Harrisonburg, VA.
As a last word, Cynthia shared, “We have such a small staff. We would need at least 2 additional techs, maybe 3, if we didn’t have this service.” Heather from Red Deer, Alberta, Canada also added, “Our school district would not be as advanced into Google as we are without CDW Education’s Collaborative.”