Recently a good friend asked me for some details on why Google Apps is a good fit for K-12 education. As I thought over all the reasons why Google Apps works for education, I actually had hard time picking a place to start. To me, it’s become a platform - a digital foundation - that the communication and creativity of our school is based upon. I seriously couldn't imagine going back!
So, here’s just a few reasons why I believe that every school should make the switch to Google Apps.
1 - Collaboration.
As one of the “4C”s of 21st Century Skills, it’s essential that collaboration is a friction-free, common, everyday activity for our students and faculty alike. The tools of Google Apps are focused on quick, powerful yet simple collaboration. There’s not a better email system, with a powerful organizational system like labels, built in chat and Google+ style Hangouts, interesting experimental Labs, and countless other details. Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) is a fundamental tool. Watching students work on the same document, at the same time is amazing, and Google Drive quickly becomes a tool students and teachers simply can’t survive without.
2 - Ubiquitous.
These tools are available on any computer or device with an internet connection. The same apps are available at home as used in school. Remember the switch from .doc to .docx files? I sure do! Never again will we have to deal with incompatible versions of documents. USB drives aren’t needed, as files are available anywhere. With more colleges and businesses using Google Apps, as well as being a fantastic tool for personal productivity, it’s likely that our students will use these tools later in life.
3 - Cost Savings.
Google Mail and Drive have rapidly replaced the need for Exchange servers and Microsoft Office. For many schools, Office licensing can be the largest software licensing fee budget item. While it might not have every feature, I’d estimate that 90% Office - the key features - are available. Sometimes, a lack of a feature is a feature in itself. Honestly, the world would be a better place without some powerpoint features like custom animations and transitions!
4 - Security and Up-time.
Moving to the cloud can be a scary process. It’s hard to not feel a loss of control. But compare the numbers. Can your self-hosted or current email system compete with the track record of Google? Honestly, I trust the resources of Google - the same resources used by BBVA, a financial services company of over 110,000 employees - to be more secure and dependable than anything I can host myself.
These are just a few of the major reasons why I can’t imagine “doing technology” in K-12 education without Google Apps. Take a look at the creative ‘hacks’ at youpd.org or the massive collaborative projects such as this presentation made by 140+ teachers, and it’s quite clear that this is a tool with far too many benefits to ignore.
When considering Google Apps, a few common mistaken sticking points seem to surface again and again. Dr. Henry Theile has created a superb overview answering the common objections to Google Apps Dealing with the FUD - Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. that anyone considering the switch should investigate.
Google Apps for Education is a easy decision after you consider the facts. Going Google is the way to go.