The Google 80:20 Project Description

Google has an interesting approach as to how it asks its employees to spend their company time.  It is referred to as the 80/20 rule.  Employees are to give 80% of their time to current Google projects, and for the other 20% of the time, employees can work on whatever they want that relates somehow to Google.

We are taking the same approach in this course.  You will spend 20% of your time with this course, and have 20% of your grade, be of YOUR creation, YOUR innovation, YOUR pursuit, relating to food – food supply, food insecurity, etc. (please keep the topic to food, not beverages).  We will discuss some ideas in class, but the project is to be your idea, not mine.  The project is to be done individually – however, I will allow students to work in pairs, with the expectation that I will be expecting twice the effort and work put into a project with two students working together (that translates to grading twice as hard).

What is 20% of your time with this course?  We have 44 class meetings, which we will say are for one hour each.  According to Penn State policy, students are to spend 2-3 hours outside of class focusing on classwork for every hour in class.  When we do the math, this means that 20% of the class+out-of-class time calculates to 26-35 hours on your Google 80:20 Project.

You will use your Google Doc to document all parts of this project – your brainstorming, your information gathering, your conversations/communications, etc.  Think of this as your diary, lab notebook – whatever you want to call the document.

Links to learn more about Google 80:20

New York Times – The Google Way: Give Engineers Room

Official Google Blog – Google’s “20 percent time” in action


Grading Rubric for Google 80:20 Project

Project Timeline

  • Friday, January 18 – Project officially assigned
  • Post at least once every week in your Google Doc – you should be working on this project throughout the semester
  • Friday, February 8, midnight – Have your project idea clearly stated and defined in your Google Doc – what you will do, how you will do it, your timeline, your final outcome/dissemination (missing this deadline will result in a 20-point deduction in your final course grade)
  • Monday, March 25 – Peer update in class about project (missing this peer update will result in a 10-point deduction in your final course grade)
  • Friday, April 19, midnight – Final project is due (Google Doc and final product) (missing this deadline will result in a final project grade of zero)

The grading rubric presented here is in its generalized form.  Each of the details for the categories below will be further defined for individual projects in the Google Doc that we share.

Grading Rubric for Google 80:20 Project

Original – something not completed before      0  1  2  3  4  5

Creative – outside the box                                     0  1  2  3  4  5

Relates to course content – “food”                      0  1  2  3  4  5

How thorough of a job (enough time, research)           0  1  2  3  4  5

Frequency of postings in Google Doc                 0  1  2  3  4  5

Level of detail in postings in Google Doc            0  1  2  3  4  5

Presentation/dissemination of project                0  1  2  3  4  5

This project is worth 20% of your final grade.