With technology becoming an essential part of education, academic institutions need digital tools that support productivity, communication, and collaboration. Google Workspace for Education enables administrators, teachers, and students to achieve their goals in an intuitive, reliable, and secure environment. To more effectively and efficiently leverage that technology, Amplified IT offers institutions the Google Workspace for Education Migration service.
During a migration, institutions experience a seamless transition from their current email and/or file system infrastructure to Google Workspace for Education. While school leaders often believe completing a Google migration over the course of an extended break, like summer vacation or the winter holiday, is best for their stakeholders, there are many benefits to going through a migration while end-users are present during the year instead.
Benefits of a school-year migration
Avoid misplaced users: When users are actively using their email, they can quickly let you know if they did not have any data migrated. Sometimes some accounts are missed when generating the list of accounts to migrate data for, and typically it is better for these issues to be identified quickly, rather than months later after they return from summer break.
Mitigate potential data issues: With a migration, like with any system upgrade, there is the potential for issues when copying data over. Data may not migrate as expected for some users in certain situations. If data is migrated during the school year, they are more familiar with how their data is supposed to look if everything migrated correctly and will raise the issue shortly after the cutover rather than months later after summer break ends. This helps to ensure that any data a user needs only infrequently (e.g. only once a year) will be migrated over before the old email systems are shut down.
Decrease lapses in mail flow: In addition to just misplaced users resulting in some data not migrated for the cutover (which can always be migrated later), there is also the risk of new incoming mail being lost if the misplaced users do not have Gmail mailboxes. If mail flow is directed to Gmail during summer break or other extended breaks, it can expand the amount of missed and missing emails since they won’t try to log in to their Gmail accounts until they return from their break. It is important that users are present and active so issues can be identified and resolved while reducing impediments in institutional communication.
Smooth user training and adoption: A successful migration to Google Workspace requires buy-in from stakeholders. There is often so much preparation that comes with returning to school after an extended period, that having to learn new technologies can cause frustration, making the adoption process much more difficult and strenuous. When the migration is completed while users are active, they will also be available for strategically implemented training and for troubleshooting problems by logging in to their new accounts once it’s ready. Additionally, users can log in to Gmail while the migration is in progress if you’d like to provide hands-on training before the cutover to Gmail is complete.
Save time and resources for future projects: To avoid major disruption to teaching and learning, IT departments use school breaks to complete projects that absolutely can’t be done while administrators, teachers, and students are present. Usually, they have a series of projects to start at the same time. When a migration takes place during the school year, institutions are able to cross another task off their list to leave that time available for those other projects.
One of the main concerns that come with a migration is the operation of the established digital infrastructure. However, migrating during the school year presents additional anxiety around stakeholder adoption. This was originally the case for Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) in Tucson, Arizona. “Before the migration starts, you know the specs, you know the stats, but you don’t know how everything is going to work until you press that button and turn it on,” explained Heba Mueller, TUSD’s Educational Technology Integration Specialist.
This past spring, TUSD’s Department of Instruction Technology engaged with Amplified IT to migrate their schools to Gmail and Drive in an effort to provide their administrators, teachers, and students with the tools they need to be successful. “We’re an Office 365 district but, after the past year of remote learning, we learned a lot and it has shaped where we are going,” Heba shared. “We’re transitioning to a new LMS, we’ve started a 1:1 initiative, and our teachers wanted access to the Google suite and integration tools like Peardeck.”
TUSD is currently piloting Google Workspace at three of their schools to see how it will work for them. Though she initially had concerns about the school-year migration process, Heba attests that the experience has been a positive one. “It’s been amazing. The Migration team has been great with response time and getting all our questions answered,” Heba said. On top of Amplified IT’s support, TUSD has found the migration to be a smooth one because of how they introduced it to stakeholders. Gmail is more widely used than Office 365 in personal communications so migrating to Google provided a more intuitive end-user experience, but because TUSD communicated the strategy, allowed teachers to voluntarily adopt the new email system, and ensured they were effectively trained in using it before it went live increased overall buy-in.
Phases of a migration
Amplified IT supports migrations year-round with a near-zero downtime approach, providing a smooth transition with minimal end-user impact.
Pilot: To begin, data is migrated for 5-10 select users, typically in the IT department, during a pilot phase. This provides an institution with proof of concept and direct experience with the migration process. This includes switching the pilot users to Gmail before everyone else and provides the IT team the opportunity to experience first-hand the migration process from beginning to end, so they better know what their end users can expect to see.
Early Adopters: After the pilot phase, institutions have the option to conduct an early adopter phase for users who are anxious to get started with the Google Workspace tools and are willing to be monitored as additional test cases.
Main: A full migration takes place in the background as users continue to immerse themselves in their normal day-to-day workflow with no interruptions until it’s time for the cutover and the migration is live.
Cloud Migration Lead
About the Author:
Mitch Dowhower originally joined the Amplified IT team in 2015. After a short hiatus, he has returned to lead the Cloud Migrations Team. Mitch has been helping schools “go Google” since 2008. He is a Google Certified Trainer, Google Certified Administrator, original founder of the GSFE Admins group, and founding member of the GSFE Admins podcast. Mitch has presented at numerous edtech conferences as both a technical speaker and featured speaker. In his free time, Mitch is an assistant varsity football coach and drives race cars on dirt tracks across the Midwest.