After a nearly 50 year career at UAlberta, Professor Emeritus Donald Kuiken has retained office space to continue his research program, work with graduate and honours students, and perform other professional activities. He is also the President of the International Association of Empirical Study of Literature. Take a few minutes to see how G Suite shapes his life.
Q: What does an average workday look like for you?
A: Well, I officially retired a year and a half ago, and it's been a complex transition because I did the three-year phase out. So I feel like I've been able to begin shifting my professional profile, including in a way that's pertinent to the work that I'm doing with G Suite, because I'm the President of the International Association for the Empirical Study of Literature (IGEL). Because of my retirement, I was able to restructure some of the things in the organization using Google. I'm still learning the ropes and what is possible and what is useful, and an average workday is still under negotiation, but there is an emerging pattern. I have a coffee spot called Gracious Goods that I go to nearly every morning for an hour, hour and a half. Then I go home and do a mixture of home responsibilities and my work. I still come to campus regularly. We have lab meetings on Tuesdays and Fridays each week, so I continue to have low levels of graduate student supervision. I also travel a little bit more during the academic year, which is a luxury I never had. So it's a rich mix.
Q: What are the various ways that you use G Suite in your life?
A: There are two sides, because there are the usual University activities that I still take advantage of, because I do have students and share documents with them. But one of the tasks that I'm working on right now with the IGEL Governing Board is shifting the administrative structure to G Suite, specifically, G Suite for Business. Right now I'm trying to break out of the old ways of doing things and use G Suite to build an infrastructure that will carry forward so I can leave future members of the organization all the materials they need. So the organization’s meetings, frequently used correspondence, maintenance of membership records, the organization’s website — all that now fits under the G Suite umbrella.
Q: How has using Google changed the way you work?
A: I originally thought we were going to be developing an array of websites for what I have called “research coalitions” in the IGEL research community. And now, as the President, I have a little bit of influence over how this administrative structure will work. Now I can orchestrate it in a way that puts everything under G Suite so it’s available to any member in the future. This has changed my way of thinking about how to facilitate the administrative work as part of this organization. And I’m hoping that it will create a clearer sense of identity for the association.
Q: Which Google app could you not live without and why?
A: I'm firmly committed to the new Google Sites. If we had to change, I don't know how easily migration could be done, but I would not want to be doing it. And I'm learning how to use the Shared Drives. Some of the things that we're doing with the Shared Drives structure would be hard to do otherwise.
Q: If you were a Google app, which one would you be and why?
A: If I were a Google app, I would probably be the new Google Sites because it’s both quirky and professional.
Q: When you first started using Google, what surprised you the most over other applications you'd used?
A: I'll tell you one of the dilemmas that I initially faced: the members of the preceding governing board for this association were working on WordPress. And I concluded that we don't want to be there. It took me a long time to really clarify that, but I'm comfortable there now. I feel like things on our Google Site are less likely to be broken than if they were being done on WordPress, and they’re relatively easy to maintain. But that wasn't obvious to me initially. There are times now when I feel like I'm a little bit pushy about using G Suite, but I want as much of the administrative structure under that umbrella as we can get.
Q: If you were introducing someone to G Suite, what tips would you give them?
A: I think it's most important for people to become acquainted with it by actually using it. For example, you have to understand how permissions work within the structure. I’m trying to make it attractive for some of my colleagues to shift towards this kind of administrative structure because it’s both interesting and important to the organization, but it's a gradual evolution. Learning G Suite has been an adventure for me personally and professionally… I think it has led to some interesting discoveries.
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