How I Became the Google Slides Templates Guy

by | Dec 1, 2017

In this post, I I reflect upon my experience in the Ed Tech game, and examine just how I came to be the Google Slides Templates guy (a title I just made up).

A Little History

From 2011-2014, I was employed as an instructional technology coach in a great little school district in northern Illinois. At the time I was hired, the district had just installed SMART Boards in every classroom (remember those?). The Ed Tech landscape looked very different in those days. Chromebooks were still a year away from hitting the market, and one to one computing really only existed in a few very wealthy districts. Microsoft and Apple were still the dominant players in the game, but for those that were watching closely, it was clear that the tide was shifting. For three years prior, I had been using the “Google Suite” with students in my role as a computer teacher in an inner city charter school. Our admininstration hadn’t yet adopted Google Apps for Education, so I was forced to use personal accounts with my students, and even though it was a pain to setup, the benefits of real-time collaboration outweighed the frustrations of implementation. To me, the writing on the wall was hit-you-over-the-head obvious:

“One-to-one computing was coming, and Google would be leading the way.”

When I interviewed for the instructional technology coaching position, I shared my vision for the district’s technology implementation plan with the adorable timeline that I created below.

Push Back

Most of the educators that I dealt with bought in right away, but I received an enormous amount of pushback from our outsourced IT department. They’d complain that Google offered zero direct support in terms of customer serivce and that Docs, Slides, and Sheets weren’t “real productivity tools.” They’d argue that we were doing our students a disservice not teaching Microsoft Office, and that no real businesses used Google Apps. I’d counter that Google does offer customer service in the form of a robust web forum and online community and that as a web-based utility, it pretty much just works so there wasn’t much need for direct customer support. I’d point out that teaching students how to use specific software applications really wasn’t the point of education, and that even if it was, by the time the students made it into “industry,” the software would likely change, and they’d have to learn something new anyway—like when Microsoft changed from the file menu system to “the ribbon” in 2007. I’d also counter that one of the biggest, and most influential, technology companies in the world, Google, used Google Apps for just about everything they did.

My favorite argument was, “You can’t merge cells in a table in Google Docs, and Google Slides is a far cry from PowerPoint and Keynote.” No amount of explaining that tables were really intended for tabular data not document formatting seemed to matter. Neither did explaining that if you just waited a bit, Google would add that feature soon (which they did). My arch nemesis, the stubborn IT guy, had dug his feet into the ground and was unwilling to budge.

Another Opportunity

Recognizing that I wasn’t in a position to move the needle on this issue, I made a career change back into the classroom as a technology and business teacher at the school of my dreams which happened to be a “Google School” that was just about to complete its one-to-one initiative. In this new role, just about everyone embraced the Google ecosystem, but there remained a familiar complaint, “PowerPoint and Keynote were vastly superior to Google Slides.” This drove me nuts. Under the hood all three programs were basically the same. A slide deck is a slide deck is a slide deck. PowerPoint and Keynote didn’t offer any features that Slides didn’t. In fact, one could make a much stronger argument, due to its web-based nature, that Slides actually offered the superior features in the form of video embedding and shareability. What people really meant when they compared the applications was that Google Slides wasn’t pretty.

They Were Right…

As much as I hated to admit it, the naysayers were in fact correct. Google’s Slide Templates, were dull, buring, and ugly. PowerPoint and Keynote were vastly superior from an aesthetic standpoint. I couldn’t understand why Google would spend so much time building such great tech and leave it so hideous, but then I remembered that unlike Apple, Google was founded and dominated by engineers not designers. Fortunately, I felt, the tech was strong enough that with just a little work on the design end, Google Slides could compete with its main competitors.

Having some design chops of my own, I figured I might as well take a stab at it.

Google Slides Templates

In 2014, I put together a single web page that featured 15 Google Slides Templates. I Tweeted about it and shared it with some colleagues and then pretty much forgot about it. Over the next couple of years, however, I received occasional twitter mentions and emails from users and presentation websites asking if they could feature my templates to which I always said, “Yes!” The whole reason I designed the templates was to share them with the world.

During this time, my email list grew to a respectable number of subscribers which prompted me to add and then analyze the Google Analytics of that page. I was astonished to learn that I was averaging 100-200 unique visitors per day and that the majority of my subscribers were coming solely from my templates page. And so it was with this realization that I decided to lean in further to the whole Google Slides Template thing and name myself the Google Slides Templates Guy. I am now in the process of adding to my collection and building out resources for other teachers and Slides fanatics to build their own.

What Happened With My Proposal

After I left my instructional coaching position, my proposal pretty much ended up coming to fruition exactly as I had suggested (with the exception of Google Classroom—a technology that didn’t exist at the time—replacing Moodle). A year later, the district brought the IT team back in house, and has gone fully one-to-one with… Google Chromebooks.

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How I Became the Google Slides Templates Guy

by | Dec 1, 2017

In this post, I I reflect upon my experience in the Ed Tech game, and examine just how I came to be the Google Slides Templates guy (a title I just made up).

A Little History

From 2011-2014, I was employed as an instructional technology coach in a great little school district in northern Illinois. At the time I was hired, the district had just installed SMART Boards in every classroom (remember those?). The Ed Tech landscape looked very different in those days. Chromebooks were still a year away from hitting the market, and one to one computing really only existed in a few very wealthy districts. Microsoft and Apple were still the dominant players in the game, but for those that were watching closely, it was clear that the tide was shifting. For three years prior, I had been using the “Google Suite” with students in my role as a computer teacher in an inner city charter school. Our admininstration hadn’t yet adopted Google Apps for Education, so I was forced to use personal accounts with my students, and even though it was a pain to setup, the benefits of real-time collaboration outweighed the frustrations of implementation. To me, the writing on the wall was hit-you-over-the-head obvious:

“One-to-one computing was coming, and Google would be leading the way.”

When I interviewed for the instructional technology coaching position, I shared my vision for the district’s technology implementation plan with the adorable timeline that I created below.

Push Back

Most of the educators that I dealt with bought in right away, but I received an enormous amount of pushback from our outsourced IT department. They’d complain that Google offered zero direct support in terms of customer serivce and that Docs, Slides, and Sheets weren’t “real productivity tools.” They’d argue that we were doing our students a disservice not teaching Microsoft Office, and that no real businesses used Google Apps. I’d counter that Google does offer customer service in the form of a robust web forum and online community and that as a web-based utility, it pretty much just works so there wasn’t much need for direct customer support. I’d point out that teaching students how to use specific software applications really wasn’t the point of education, and that even if it was, by the time the students made it into “industry,” the software would likely change, and they’d have to learn something new anyway—like when Microsoft changed from the file menu system to “the ribbon” in 2007. I’d also counter that one of the biggest, and most influential, technology companies in the world, Google, used Google Apps for just about everything they did.

My favorite argument was, “You can’t merge cells in a table in Google Docs, and Google Slides is a far cry from PowerPoint and Keynote.” No amount of explaining that tables were really intended for tabular data not document formatting seemed to matter. Neither did explaining that if you just waited a bit, Google would add that feature soon (which they did). My arch nemesis, the stubborn IT guy, had dug his feet into the ground and was unwilling to budge.

Another Opportunity

Recognizing that I wasn’t in a position to move the needle on this issue, I made a career change back into the classroom as a technology and business teacher at the school of my dreams which happened to be a “Google School” that was just about to complete its one-to-one initiative. In this new role, just about everyone embraced the Google ecosystem, but there remained a familiar complaint, “PowerPoint and Keynote were vastly superior to Google Slides.” This drove me nuts. Under the hood all three programs were basically the same. A slide deck is a slide deck is a slide deck. PowerPoint and Keynote didn’t offer any features that Slides didn’t. In fact, one could make a much stronger argument, due to its web-based nature, that Slides actually offered the superior features in the form of video embedding and shareability. What people really meant when they compared the applications was that Google Slides wasn’t pretty.

They Were Right…

As much as I hated to admit it, the naysayers were in fact correct. Google’s Slide Templates, were dull, buring, and ugly. PowerPoint and Keynote were vastly superior from an aesthetic standpoint. I couldn’t understand why Google would spend so much time building such great tech and leave it so hideous, but then I remembered that unlike Apple, Google was founded and dominated by engineers not designers. Fortunately, I felt, the tech was strong enough that with just a little work on the design end, Google Slides could compete with its main competitors.

Having some design chops of my own, I figured I might as well take a stab at it.

Google Slides Templates

In 2014, I put together a single web page that featured 15 Google Slides Templates. I Tweeted about it and shared it with some colleagues and then pretty much forgot about it. Over the next couple of years, however, I received occasional twitter mentions and emails from users and presentation websites asking if they could feature my templates to which I always said, “Yes!” The whole reason I designed the templates was to share them with the world.

During this time, my email list grew to a respectable number of subscribers which prompted me to add and then analyze the Google Analytics of that page. I was astonished to learn that I was averaging 100-200 unique visitors per day and that the majority of my subscribers were coming solely from my templates page. And so it was with this realization that I decided to lean in further to the whole Google Slides Template thing and name myself the Google Slides Templates Guy. I am now in the process of adding to my collection and building out resources for other teachers and Slides fanatics to build their own.

What Happened With My Proposal

After I left my instructional coaching position, my proposal pretty much ended up coming to fruition exactly as I had suggested (with the exception of Google Classroom—a technology that didn’t exist at the time—replacing Moodle). A year later, the district brought the IT team back in house, and has gone fully one-to-one with… Google Chromebooks.

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