WELCOME TO THE UNIVERSITY OF GOOGLE - HOW THE UNIVERSITY OF SHEFFIELD MADE THE PARADIGM SHIFT TO THE CLOUD BASED WORKPLACE
In 2011 The university of Sheffield made the very big decision to move a large part of its technology infrastructure over to the the huge suite of services Google provides to support educational institutions. Like so many large organisations, the University faced the problem of aging systems and several services situated on a multitude of platforms, all of which placed extra burdens on resources requiring more staff and financial support.
Unlike many other institutions, the University took the uncharted step to be the first in the UK to turn on Google functionality for its whole organisation. Firstly it gave students access to email and calendar via Google, providing dramatically improved flexibility and storage space. Following the successful implementation, staff were moved on to the same platform, and many more of the Google Apps we had acquired in the partnership were ‘switched on' for staff and students. Previously other UK institutions had only given their students some of the Google tools to use, so the University of Sheffield was breaking new ground in the UK
The University had come to a technological crossroad in terms of how collaboration and communication were facilitated. Looking at the catalogue of collaborative tools available, there was a clear need to upgrade the email and calendar tools and to provide an integrated, frictionless solution. The problem the University and other similar organisations faced is that existing enterprise products are hugely expensive.
Since turning on the huge collection of Google Apps at the University, there has been widespread acceptance and use of Docs, Calendar, Sites, Gmail, Drive Hangouts, and Chat.
Information Specialists from the University based at The School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) have led the charge to implement these tools into their working practice. In addition they have run many online and face-to-face training and awareness sessions to encourage staff in their school and faculty to realise the potential of these tools, which also include Groups, Reader, Blogger, Scholar and YouTube to name but a few.
We will talk about the shift away from Enterprise software towards Google and the implications to how we now communicate and collaborate. The presentation will discuss the issues faced by information professionals in helping large numbers of colleagues and students make what can be deemed as an ‘uncomfortable shift' towards the Cloud and demonstrate how we have used tools such as Docs, Forms and Hangouts to encourage widespread use within our Faculty and the challenges, questions and pitfalls we faced and continue to tackle as we get deeper into the Cloud.