Jun 27 2012

ISTE 2012: Demystifying Google Apps for Education

A longtime user dispels the myths that continue to make schools wary of adopting Google’s free platform of web productivity tools.

Since its debut in October 2006, Google Apps for Education has emerged as a viable resource for K–12 schools that wish to provide their students with e-mail and collaboration tools but lack the money to pay for such services. The integrated, hosted communication and collaboration solution offers schools core functions such as e-mail storage and search (Gmail); scheduling (Google Calendar); instant messaging (Google Talk); document, spreadsheet and presentation creation and sharing (Google Docs); content management (Google Sites); and video hosting and sharing (Google Video).

In a Tuesday morning session at the ISTE 2012 conference, Dr. Henry C. Thiele, chief technology officer for the three-school Maine Township High School District 207 in Park Ridge, Ill., explored 13 myths that cause school leaders to experience crippling “FUD” (fear, uncertainty and doubt) about Google Apps for Education and what it can do for their teaching and learning environment. Since rolling out the applications suite to students in fall 2008, Maine Township has saved $436,000 in student and staff e-mail, spam filtering and security, archiving, server replacement and support staff costs — a dividend it has since reinvested in Internet, intranet and wireless improvements.

Thiele, a Google-certified trainer, teacher and administrator, assured attendees that the following 13 misconceptions about Google Apps for Education are, in fact, just that:

  1. Google Apps for Education isn’t free.
  2. Google will charge for the service, eventually.
  3. You can’t turn off the ads.
  4. Schools don’t own their data.
  5. Google will sell schools’ information.
  6. Google employees will be able to see schools’ information.
  7. There is no enterprise-level control.
  8. E-mail has to be activated for students.
  9. Nobody is using it.
  10. It doesn’t satisfy school compiance requirements.
  11. There’s no support.
  12. It isn’t secure or reliable.
  13. There’s no staff development available.

You can download Thiele’s complete presentation to learn more. Follow all of EdTech's ISTE 2012 coverage by bookmarking our ISTE 2012 hub.

Want to Learn More About Google Apps?

Is your IT team wondering how to prepare the network for the onslaught of activity a Google Apps for Education deployment would bring? Read our story "Prep Your IT Network for the App Onslaught" to learn more. For a handy overview of the differences between Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365, read our story "Peeling Back the Layers of Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps."