Transferring ownership in #Google Drive #GAFE

In a few days I will be leaving my current school and want to ensure that the work I have curated, created and shared via Google Drive over the past four years does not disappear into the digital ether.

A few weeks ago I began to investigate how to backup Google Apps for Education emails, drive files, photos, etc and discovered Google Takeout. It’s a neat service that worked in the background to create 2GB segments of my work which could be downloaded. It worked really well: converting Google Docs, Sheets and Slides into Microsoft Office compatible files, extracting email into an MBOX readable format. I may not need to use all the files and the emails are purely for reference but I felt a lot better having a non-cloud backup, just in case.

Transferring ownership is very easy as long as you have the email address of someone within the same GAFE organisation. The most efficient method is to use the GAFE admin console which is the only way to transfer ALL files to another user quickly.

However it isn’t quite as quick and easy as you might think: The alternative is to transfer ownership of each file individually! For someone who has kept three or four folders for each of the “strands” of my role – Computing Teacher, eLearning Coordinator, CAS Aberdeen hub chair, Form teacher, etc. there doesn’t appear to be any easy fix via the Admin console – unless there was only one person taking over all of the folders (there isn’t). Transferring ownership of a parent folder does not automatically transfer ownership of all other files and, once my account is deleted, the files are removed from the folder owned by the new user.

There is a simple solution to this – keep files related to departments in dummy department accounts e.g. computingdept and elearning for example. This means that, when personnel changes happen, it is a simple matter of removing the share from the old user and then sharing the folder with their replacement.

You will have to remember to create all files while logged in as the department account too – otherwise the GAFE admin console is still required to transfer ownership from the user to the department account.

Heather Dowd’s video below explains clearly how to go through the process of transferring folders and files to another user and makes use of a dummy “curriculum” account too:

Here are other elements you might have to consider:

  1. Remember to transfer ownership of Google Sites, G+ communities and YouTube channels as well!
  2. Should you deactivate any live Google Forms before transferring ownership?
  3. What happens to comments created by a user who is then deleted from the GAFE system?
  4. Is this something that can be scripted and run by GAFE Administrators prior to a user leaving the domain?
  5. Is Google Takeout a suitable option for students who have built up a lot of data over the course of their time at the school? Should there be a data retention policy so that storage is cleared every few years?
  6. Should you keep your sub-folders to a minimum in order to reduce the time required to transfer ownership? (I know I’m regretting being organised now!)

To fork or not to fork: Should there be only one way to share digital resources in a school?

Image by Chris Pluta, CC0

My current school is in the midst of a digital revolution thanks to the 1:1 iPad rollout and Google Apps for Education installation. There are so many options open to staff and students with regards to sharing the digital resources they have curated or created and while this is great for choice and accessibility it can also become a mess of misconceptions, policy conflicts and training needs.

During the pilot with our S3 students I’ve been deliberately hands-off and encouraged experimentation within departments. In January I launched a more formal option (not policy) where teachers were given a structure to work with in Google Drive where they could receive or view work created by students in their class. I’ve received very few comments at all about it but know that more and more subject areas are using Google Drive for sharing resources and receiving student work back. Other options are still being used (and I think it is important to allow this to continue) but I want to provide staff, students and parents with a baseline – a method that can be easily implemented in classrooms but that can also be built upon or adapted with the consensus of individual classes (and by that I mean both students and teachers).

Digital is an abstract medium for many and asking staff or students to suddenly begin to utilise this way of working over and above all others can cause confusion, hit confidence and increase resistance towards future workflow changes. Experimentation followed by discussion on the pros and cons of different systems can help build a more robust workflow that is more immediately useful to a larger number of individuals within the school. I am confident that the discussion to come in the next few weeks will become strong foundations for policy that has been created from the bottom up and is based upon experience rather than sales pitch. However I have a concern that one way of sharing digital resources is not best for all and, very like the variety of subject areas and specialisms in the education system, the standard policy will need to be forked (to use GitHub terminology) to suit other areas.

Perhaps using GitHub is a way forward for school or educational authority policies? The system offers clarity, accountability, accessibility and flexibility. I’d be interested to hear if other schools are allowing departments to remix standard policies (with permission of course) to best suit the educational needs of the student and – like Christopher Ritter – use a service like GitHub to record and approve the changes.