Google for Education
Google for Education: Future of the Classroom
Education is evolving at a faster pace than any other period in recent history. There’s a growing awareness among educators and families that today’s curriculum needs to evolve to meet tomorrow’s reality. Beyond tools and technology, students need to develop new skills to solve tough problems, collaborate effectively, and express ideas in new ways. To better understand these changes, Google for Education partnered with a global team of researchers and analysts to examine evidence-based shifts in classroom education.

To help get people excited about this study, we worked with an incredible team of artists to show the journey of a pencil. A metaphor for our students across the world and for the trends Google for Education found. We see our little pencil navigate mazes, mountains and ultimately come to find its true purpose.

Check out the full study at

Client: Google for Education
Google Team: Tim Anderson, Katie Bernasek, Danny Bresnik, & Matt Kipper
Creative by Coat of Arms
Creative Direction & Producing by Clara Lehmann & Jonathan Lacocque
Design Direction by Ryan Butterworth
Editing by Jonathan Lacocque
Design by Janis Andzans, Ryan Butterworth, Friedrich Detering, Dennis Hoogstad, Julia Iverson, Phong Luong, Chris Moberg, Thomas Rohlfs, Hieu Vu
Animation by Susanna Basone, Terence Ginja-Martinho, Dennis Hoogstad, Pablo Lozano, Phong Luong, Eze Matteo, Arthur Metcalf, Jessica Plummer, and Knifeson Yu
Sound & music by Ambrose Yu
Clean up by Pablo Lozano, Eze Matteo, Arthur Metcalf, Jessica Plummer, and Knifeson Yu
Voiceover by Ariel Kern
The Brief
Google for Education conducted a massive, worldwide study on the future of K-12 classrooms. The study explores how things like technology, classroom design, student-led learning, and other trends are changing classrooms across the globe.  At first, Google wanted to create a 1.5 minute video that reviewed the findings and pinpointed important statistics from the research—with a final goal to drive administrators, teachers, and communities to read the report.
Go to to read the full report!
Finding the Story
After exploring the details of the over 50 page study, we wrote a voiceover script and presented several styles. Since the initial vision for the video was to cleanly (and without characters or heavy illustration) identify important statistics that might nudge folks toward reading the full study, we started our style exploration with icons and abstract shapes to see what might stick. We also leaned into previously approved Google projects and kept Cloudstyle and Google for Education branding in mind as we began our styleframing.​​​​​​​
The Google team felt any of these styleframes could work from a branding perspective, but wondered if we could push for something more unexpected or different from what has been seen before. 

They proposed exploring differing techniques throughout the video to create something that feels unique for the Google Cloud / Google for Education brand and would be very shareable.  

To tie the different techniques together, we wanted to use common classroom tools that could speak to the style of each scene. For example, a pencil with a pencil sketch style, scissors with a cut-out style, a drafting compass with a geometric style, etc.
The boards were coming together nicely, but it wasn't enough of a conceptual thread. We proposed having a pencil draw a line that would take us through the entire video, ending with a student packing up (as if she was the one writing/drawing) and putting an apple on her teacher's desk.
After exploring the divergent styles it was decided that while fun, this approach may be distracting rather than helping drive viewers to the study. 

Google liked the idea of 'new perspectives,' and creating visual illusions to show how a new perspective gleans enlightenment or a new understanding. This was a direction we ultimately changed, but here are a few frames from our explorations.

The Google team loved the previous concept where we used a pencil to express the story. They asked us to create an entirely pencil sketched video and wanted more of a character-driven story to carry the viewer.  The pencil would become the hero. Clara wrote an exciting story, relevant to the global study and desired messaging, and we dove in with a unified vision. 

Coat of Arms saddled up with 19 amazing artists and boarded, animated, sound designed, and composed our story, which follows a pencil on a journey through some of the study's trends. A metaphor for how students across the world experience education, we see our pencil navigate mazes, mountains, and ultimately come to find its true purpose.
First, the pencil needed defined.
We started brainstorming on how it should look. Should it have a face or hair? How will we give it expressions? How can we avoid it being cartoony and instead feel elegant and fun? How tall should it be? What would the pencil's line look like?
Google for Education fell in love with this little lady/guy:
Fred created a brush guide for our team to follow:
We then set out to tell the story, putting together the script and storyboards.
Here is an early boardomatic, showing a few scenes in early stages, many of which adjusted during out storyboarding and animation process:
Here are some alternate versions of scenes that didn't get used:
The animation team worked hard to find the perfect amount of movement in the body, face, and hair.
A fun 3D exploration as we were defined the best technique for animation:
A quick video showing some of the rigging Dennis created for the non-cel animators in the group:
Enjoy this small animated section of one of our early design explorations:
This was a very rewarding project for us, and came with a great deal of meaningful challenges that helped us grow as a company. We grateful to our whole team for their hard work and dedication throughout the process. We couldn't have done it without each and every one of them. It was a huge team effort and the final piece shows how skilled this team of artists really is.

We want to take a moment to give some extra love to Clara Lehmann, who concepted and wrote so many amazing ideas in this process and built a creative foundation for the team to build on. We're grateful for all your creative direction and support!

Thanks for taking a look!
Google for Education