Pickerington Public Schools’ Google for Education Audit addressed major security concerns, resolved content compliance issues within Shared Drives, and improved the district’s management of Chrome devices.
A Google for Education Audit is an in-depth review of a school district’s admin console and Google environment. It provides insights that are vital for school IT and curriculum departments to have a point of reference for communication and a roadmap for change and growth.
After completing their second Google for Eduaction Audit, Pickerington Public Schools was able to address major security concerns, resolve content compliance issues within Shared Drives, and improve the district’s management of Chrome devices. These improvements immediately impacted the success of IT administrators management of the Admin Console and provided the team with a roadmap for going forward with Google for Education.
How does a Google for Education Audit resolve configuration and security concerns while aligning a school district’s goals and communications?
After going Google in 2011, technology was again on the move at Pickerington Local School district in 2014. Chromebooks were at the forefront of implementation and the district was quickly becoming a technological trailblazer in Ohio, leading the way with Google for Education. To ensure the implementation was configured correctly, technology leadership at the time had validated their domain settings with a full Google for Education Audit, but their story doesn’t end there.
As the years progressed and technology changed, so did the many hands who managed the Google Admin Console. An understaffed technology department and the resulting lack of ownership, led to many decisions that did not follow best practices for domain management, security, or policies. During this same time, the team had no control over shared drives; multiple people were making test accounts or other user accounts without thinking of the security implications.
In early 2018, Kelsey Scholl had taken over the role of overseeing the infrastructural side of the technology team. She was aware that the extensive system had been maintained with a piecemeal application by anyone who had the time to do it. More often than not, that meant the Admin Console was managed by team members who were not qualified or trained to make decisions as Google administrators. Without a solid background in Google Workspace for Education herself, there wasn’t anything she felt she could do to rectify the direction they were going. That was until she attended a Google domain training session at Brainstorm in Sandusky in 2018. There she was introduced to Amplified IT and immediately saw the value in how their expertise could provide the necessary insights and solutions for her technology team.
“After attending Brainstorm in Sandusky and being introduced to Amplified IT, I saw the value in how the Audit and other services could help me manage devices and learn best practices for education environments.”
– Kelsey Scholl, Systems Analyst, Pickerington Local School District
At the time, Kelsey only knew the current practices handed down from previous managers so after that initial Google for Education session by Amplified IT, she was keenly aware that her district’s security and compliance needed to be addressed immediately. Once back at the office, Kelsey began the process of working with Amplified IT on getting a new Audit for Pickerington’s Google for Education environment. Together with Melissa Benson, the Google for Education consultant for her region, they broke down the areas where the Pickerington IT team could use the most support and training and they dug into the details and goals of the district. Having a clear idea of where the district wants to be plays a large role in the success of an Audit. The Audit provides setting recommendations on EDU best-practices, but it also gives configuration guidance for setting up the district to meet their unique technology goals. While Kelsey was interested in an overall settings and configuration check, she was most interested in improving the district’s security and compliance.
An Audit includes a 4-page high-level review that gives an overall health score. It then goes into a focused area of improvement as well as a deep review of domain set up, OU structure, account provisioning, admin roles, and user account management. The consultancy team does a thorough analysis of all core and additional services, Chrome user and device settings, as well as current security and compliance settings for Gmail and Drive filtering and sharing. Nothing is actually changed in the Admin Console, it is only examined to create extensive documentation into the findings. After compiling a district’s data, the consultancy team reviews the settings against EDU best practices and against the goals of the district. This comparison is documented in a 150-page document along with the rationale and how-to for accomplishing each recommended change. In addition to the review and recommendations, the Audit provides reporting and insights into Google services like Users, Classroom, Groups, Shared Drives, Sites, and Chromebooks. These insights are linked within the 150-page Roadmap and can be reviewed by IT and Instructional teams within the organization.
Once the Audit was completed for Pickerington Public Schools, Melissa collaborated with Kelsey and her team for a 2-hour review and training session. Kelsey was very grateful for the foresight she had in having the Google for Education Audit completed so she could move forward aligning her domain settings to the recommendations it would provide. The detailed and hands-on review gave Kelsey a deeper understanding of the settings and policies within Admin Console and how to manage and implement them properly.
“The security recommendations I received were extremely useful. I had only known practices handed down from previous managers and the security for hiding accounts, super admins, and custom delegations for super admins was very helpful. It helped to keep some of the hands in the pot from overstepping and causing issues.”
Kelsey has also been able to utilize the Audit as a Google for Education roadmap – checking off recommendations as they were executed. It has quickly become a source of reference that everyone on the team uses for validating actions before a potential mistake is made. The document has also helped her team immensely with conversations with other administrators.
“It was my key to change by showing data that things needed improvement, it has been my roadmap to know what I want to change and how to get there. It has been my documentation of improvement providing a way to learn management skills and it provided me and my team a deeper understanding of the settings and policies within admin console.”