The 3 Biggest Takeaways for Education from Google Cloud Next 18'


Cloud Next 18' was my second Cloud Next Conference and while I was able to present this year, once again it was all of the amazing sessions, Googlers, and people that make Cloud Next amazing. There were 30,000 attendees this year and so many fantastic sessions, it was hard to choose which to attend.  While there were many sessions, a few important themes emerge.

1. Machine Learning is finally accessible to just about anyone

There were a plethora of sessions that involved machine learning at Cloud Next. For the first time, I attended sessions that I could understand and even replicate. With Google's AutoML, a customizable machine learning tool, you can create customized translation, natural language, and vision machine learning models.

We already have a few projects in mind for this. The exciting part about AutoML is that you don't just have to use the pertained models. In education, this makes relevant machine learning accessible for the first time. This something educators, administrators, and students can use with very little setup!

Here is a short video demo from next to show off AutoML.

2. G Suite is getting smarter with ML and AI

On of my favorite things about Cloud Next are all of the product announcements that Googlers are excited to share publicly for the first time. In G Suite there were a ton of amazing new announcements. All of these add up to less time on the mundane and more time on things that matter!

  1.  Standalone offering of Drive Enterprise - Now you can just get collaborative with Google Drive all without the need to switch email and calendar tools
  2. Grammar Suggestions in Google Docs (Early Adopter Program)- This has been a long time coming, but it uses machine learning and will just get better over time
  3. Google Voice to G Suite (Early Adopter Program)- The New Google Voice should be a fantastic option for schools/businesses to have a better way to phone!
  4. Data Studio Explorer (beta)- Data studio is one of my favorite, little known Google tools and now it's much more powerful and easier to use!
  5. Priority-Suggested Items and Grouped Workspaces in Google Drive- These features coming later this year will help keep you on top of the important things and help better organize Google Drive too! 
  6. Lightweight Document Approvals- This is super cool and coming later this year. You can create lightweight document approvals in Google Docs!
  7. App Maker- When a light approval won't do or when you need a custom application for your classroom, team, or workflow, App Maker is here to help. It's also a fantastic tool for teaching computer science! We use at SNC. It did take a little training, but not we are creating a citizen development program at SNC that has over a dozen students and staff members in it.  App Maker University is a great place to get started!
  8. Course Kit- Course Kit adds Google Classroom like features for Assignments and Embedding into any LMS! This tool is fantastic and our faculty really like it so far. The grader in the assignment tool has a comment bank that saves so much time on the mundane and allows for more meaningful feedback. More tools will be added to the Kit in the future too! (Disclosure: I’m on the pane for this session!)

These announcements are so exciting for education and businesses alike because they will help everyone be more productive and collaborative.

3. Big Data is being used in Education

There was another big theme at Next. Big Data is being used in all industries, including education. At the Analytics and ML will Transform Education Session, we learned about colleges who are using Big Data in real time to help struggling students get the help they need. 

The important thing to note is that these institutions are not only sharing certain data to help each other, they are also really thinking about how to do this safely. There were many questions about how this group thought through the process. Big Data can be really powerful and keep personal data safe when done thoughtfully. 

Big Data coupled with ML is something that has the potential to really transform education as it has in other areas. It's very exciting, when done right!

While there were over 100 announcements at Cloud Next, these were some of the most impactful for education. Cloud Next 18 was well worth the venture again and I hope I'm able to attend in the future!

If there were other sessions or updates you thought were great, please drop them in the comments!