Bethany College is honored to announce the speaker for Spring 2023 Commencement, Google’s Director of Sales and Partnerships for the North America Education Team Steven Butschi.
A Brown University graduate, Butschi began his career as a research consultant for Fortune 500 companies. Thirteen years ago, he was hired by Google, but not on his first attempt. He pushed himself, landing the position the second time around, and has since been climbing the ladder on their education team. Butschi has been at the forefront of Google’s education initiative, bringing Google apps and Chromebooks to K-12 and higher education institutions.
“I took a leap of faith in 2011. I was on a team at Google that worked on Gmail and Google Docs and my boss at the time said, ‘Hey, we’re founding this team to work on this device called a Chromebook. We have no idea if it’s going to take off. We have no idea what it will be like. I want you to be on this team to help us work with the first districts to use it and figure out how we can make it successful.’ Fast forward to now—and it clearly took off,” Butschi says.
Butschi currently studies devices and software and how it relates to education. His focus is on Google Workspace, which includes Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, and the devices that you can access this software on, like the Google Chromebook. Prior to his current role, he was the head of education at Google, where he led Google Cloud and worked with a team on analytics, artificial intelligence, and baseline infrastructure.
While serving as head of education, he worked with various institutions, from large research universities to smaller community and liberal arts colleges, and even K-12 school districts. Then COVID-19 hit—which led to a whole new ‘Google Boom.’ Google’s Data Studio was used to help researchers at Harvard University track the virus and better understand how it was spreading. Google Analytics helped Vanderbilt University and Stanford University study genomics to better understand people’s genetic makeup to personalize prescriptions. Google Meet was used to connect teachers and students remotely. Google Docs created a virtual space for offices to collaborate. The list goes on and on.
“Thank goodness that we had this amazing technology available to provide the ability for a class of third graders dialing in to an audio bridge to learn. It just wouldn’t have worked. But, we had so many schools that were using Google Meet, where they had teachers with their students and helping them progress even though they couldn’t be together in person. Granted, still very difficult. But it helped at least provide a Band-Aid and allowed for some learning to continue during those really tough times.”
Today, Google Chrome is the number one device used for learning in several countries across the globe—something that Butschi says he would have never dreamed his name would be behind.
“You know, being part of the founding team that made this device, and then seeing how it became so critical for people to learn during the pandemic, it was really powerful. It’s great to be able to be part of that story, to say, we helped hundreds of millions of students across the globe continue to learn during the pandemic.”
Butschi and his team are always looking at what’s to come. Right now, the future is looking bright for Google’s Artificial Intelligence, or AI. Working with Walden University, they are currently exploring the idea of bringing content from publishers and other sources and using AI to create a personalized tutor for students. He says COVID created an uptick in technology, but that it’s essential for his team to continue researching trends to see what avenue is next.
“As we move out of the pandemic, the question is not how do we continue using technology, but how do we use it in even more effective ways to help students learn more effectively? And sometimes that means not using technology. So, it’s using it at the right time and at the right place.”
Much like Bethany, Butschi says he is learning that education is no longer one size fits all, and that it is important we put individual needs at the forefront.
“What I think we’re finding is that everyone is on a different journey. And that’s where I start to think about college degrees, credentials, courses, and internships. That’s where we can create kind of that Google Maps experience. You put in where you want to go, and then we can help you chart different ways to get there.”