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Brown University uses Google Workspace to help build a community of independent thinkers on campus – and beyond

Since introducing Google Workspace (formerly known as Google Apps) in 2010, many departments at Brown University have found that when students, faculty, and staff all use the same tools, greater collaboration follows. As the technology landscape has continued to evolve, departments at Brown have continued to improve communication and collaboration across campus using Google.

Building on a tradition of collaboration – using the latest technology.

For Brown University, community is key. The school is dedicated to building a creative, collegial campus that enables everyone to explore their interests in a rigorous and open learning environment. As its technology needs have grown, it’s been a challenge to find a technology platform that supports the Brown traditions of inclusiveness and collaboration – and reduces the burden and expense of maintaining on-premises infrastructure. "At Brown, there aren’t big barriers between faculty and students", says Gillian Bell, an IT project manager who led the initiative that first brought Google Workspace to Brown in 2010. "Everyone having access to the same tools aligns with the college experience at Brown. And because Google supports and encourages collaboration, our relationship with Google is a natural fit."

"Google Docs has revolutionized how people are teaching. There’s more collaboration with students and there is a real-time feedback loop between faculty and students."

Melissa Kane, Instructional Designer, Brown University

The power of sharing, simplified.

The Brown Computing and Information Services team works to deliver services that remove the busywork of technology so faculty and students can concentrate on learning and innovation. Sometimes it’s as simple as sharing. Prior to the university’s move to Google Workspace for Education, it was difficult and time-consuming for faculty and students to manage sharing and access to documents. Now, with tools like Docs, Drive, and Groups, everyone has the power to quickly and securely share and manage access for any number of users with just a couple of clicks.

Many at Brown have also found that familiarity with Google products increases the openness to adopt innovative new tools like Assignments, which seamlessly integrates with the university’s existing learning management system.

"Every time I show a faculty member Assignments, I see physical relief on their face when they see that it automatically makes a folder in Google Drive and organizes documents based on assignment. It’s so powerful and time-saving."

Melissa Kane, Instructional Designer, Brown University

Building community one chat at a time.

But if there’s one Google Workspace service that helps foster Brown's spirit of inclusivity and collaboration most, it may be Meet Chat. At Brown, staff, faculty, and students use a range of devices – and support teams are widely distributed around campus. Meet Chat offers a platform-agnostic way for everyone to communicate securely, whether down the hall or across the globe. As James Foley, lead instructional designer at Brown, explains, "No matter what platform they’re on, we know we can send someone a quick chat and it will just work."

And that single, informal, non-hierarchical channel for communication fits right in at Brown. Beyond simplicity and building a sense of community, the ability to quickly connect has greater benefits. According to Melissa Kane, an instructional designer at Brown, "In my experience, Meet Chat increases the pace of the workflow. I feel like things get done quicker."

"The impact of Chat, especially for our internal support team, has been transformative. It really lets us interact in a much more informal way, and helps build a level of familiarity with one another that brings us together as a team."

James Foley, Lead Instructional Designer, Brown University

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