How Newburgh Enlarged School District gains visibility into online activity with Google Workspace for Education Plus

About Newburgh Enlarged School District

Newburgh Enlarged City School District is located at “the crossroads of the Northeast,” on the west bank of the Hudson River, 60 miles north of New York City and 80 miles south of Albany. The K-12 school district serves 10,800 students from four neighboring municipalities: the City of Newburgh, the Town of Newburgh, New Windsor, and a small portion of Cornwall.

“When these features are part of your daily workflow, you’re much more likely to use them, which might not be the case with third-party tools.”

John Krouskoff, Executive Director, Information and Technology, Newburgh Enlarged City School District

Online activity on the rise

In a relatively large school district with 9,000 Chromebook users and more than 10,000 Google Workspace users, technology leaders have their work cut out for them. “Every student has a device—that’s a lot of activity taking place,” says John Krouskoff, the district’s Executive Director for Information and Technology. “That’s why we started to wonder: how many people use certain Google Workspace tools? And where are people going when they take their devices offsite? We’d like to know the answers so we can support learning, keep students safe, and promote digital literacy.”

Since the district operates a 1:1 program, visibility into online activity was high on Krouskoff’s list of must-haves, especially for the IT team.

“My goal is to support my engineers and network specialists, so they can do their jobs,” he says. “That’s why I look out for better tools for them—ones that give them more information about our online environment. We need the extra vision to know what’s going on behind the scenes.”

Understanding where and how Google Workspace is used

Krouskoff viewed Google Workspace for Education Plus, which offers premium features like security dashboards, access controls, video meeting recording, as the way to shed light on use of Chromebooks and Google Workspace. For example, the Plus version allows administrators to view activity across the school’s web domain, export data such as Gmail logs for analysis in BigQuery, and access audit reports on user activity.

“Instead of just a 10,000-foot-view, we wanted to be able to drill down into specific activities,” Krouskoff says. “It could be questions as simple as, ‘Do we have all the necessary updates on each device?’ or ‘How many Chromebooks have been used in more than x number of days?’”

For example, data on Chromebook usage was helpful in determining if a particular school or teachers needed more professional development support to integrate the devices with classroom lessons, Krouskoff adds.

More visibility and control for security

The Google Workspace for Education Plus tools that increase visibility into online activity also help the Newburgh district improve security. Jeremy Wood, the district’s senior network manager, uses Google Workspace for Education Plus’s Security Investigation remediation tool to investigate reports about malware, or user activity that might pose a threat to the Newburgh community.

“We had a user who received an email that was a phishing attempt, and we were able to use Google Workspace for Education Plus to get control of the message,” Wood says. “We can take control right from the Admin console for content that raises a concern—like taking someone off of a shared document if needed.”

Wood also uses the Admin console’s security health page regularly to stay on top of changes to security settings that could expose Google Workspace users to threats. “The page tells me about areas we might need to address—like Drive access or email forwarding permissions—so that we can abide by best practices for security,” Wood says. “If someone were to change the normal access rights for a shared Drive folder or a device, we’d know right away.”

Recording meetings broadens access to events

As Krouskoff and his tech team explore Google Workspace for Education Plus’s features, they’re planning to use Google Workspace for Education Plus’s Google Meet recording feature to share events like school board meetings and parent/teacher nights.

“We love the simplicity of recording,” Krouskoff says. “There could be meetings with college reps who are visiting students—a case where we wouldn’t have space to cram everyone into a single classroom. We can capture the video and share it (from Google Drive) with the entire student body. Or even virtual field trips that are held by videoconference—we could archive those so teachers can use them the following year to springboard conversations with students.”

Since Google Workspace for Education Plus’s tools for security, visibility, and meeting recording are all within Google Workspace, Krouskoff and his team can access them more easily. “We don’t have to jump from one solution to another,” Krouskoff says. “When these features are part of your daily workflow, you’re much more likely to use them, which might not be the case with third-party tools.”

At a Glance

What they wanted to do

  • Improve visibility into Google Workspace and Chromebook activity
  • Drill down into security issues
  • Connect to their community through video

What they did

  • Adopted Google Workspace for Education Plus

What they accomplished

  • Management tools are now in a single console
  • Recording conferences and college-rep meetings helps parents, students, and teachers attend events virtually
  • Network admins control access permissions and set policies for improved security