Update: Following publication of this story, Tom Mills, Global Director of Enterprise Edu for Google, responded to Fast Draw Media’s inquiry into the Google Apps product. The following is his response.
“We give Google Apps for Education to schools and districts for free because we believe in the importance of education and the benefits of incorporating technology into that education. I’m continuously amazed by how teachers and students are using Google Apps in new, innovative ways to enhance learning.
“Google Apps for Education fosters real-time collaboration in and out of the classroom – a student at home can write an essay in a Google Doc and share it with her classmates for peer editing; teachers can set up a Google group for their class to send students updates about lesson plans and assignments. There’s no limit to how these tools can be used to promote learning, and we love hearing examples from the more than 16 million faculty, staff, and students using Google Apps for Education worldwide.”
For more information, visit Google Apps for Education website.
File sharing, online collaboration and cloud computing are terms heard or read about almost daily as various electronic tools permeate the workplace. While emailing a file might be a way to get it to your coworker or client, what happens when the receiver doesn’t have the correct program or version to open the file?
Additionally, in this era of budget-conscious businesses and government organizations, companies and agencies are looking for ways in which to limit as much overhead and labor costs as possible.
Quinlan Independent School District (QISD) in Quinlan, Texas, began a transition to using Google Apps two years ago by first migrating to Gmail™. The district has continued to add Google products made available to faculty and staff since then, allowing for expanded collaboration among teachers and students and allowed for a more versatile work environment for staff by giving them access to materials wherever they have an Internet connection, including mobile devices.
Mike Roberts, QISD Director of Technology, said the district initially looked at Gmail for the cost savings it provided the district over running its own email server and Google Apps was something that has been added on for the additional benefits it has offered the district.
He said the migration has saved the district money on a variety of fronts.
“Before we had always run our own email server,” he said, “but every few years, you have to look at upgrading.”
He said the cost savings to the district in terms of hardware and software upgrades, user licenses and labor costs have been significant for the district, but he did not have an exact dollar figure available. He added the labor costs and the overall hassle of running an email server has been greatly relieved.
“One benefit has been, with Google, we have redundancy of server space, whereas before we had one point of failure because we had only one server,” he said. “Google has multiple servers in multiple locations and, unless we have a fiber (optic wire) cut, we have access, not just here, but anywhere we are.”
Roberts said initially there was some hesitancy and resistance on the part of the staff with the change, but that the staff and students have adapted pretty well. The district has recently purchased Google Chromebooks ™ with grant money and the science and English departments at the middle and high schools are using them in a pilot program.
Besides cost savings and ease of access, Google Apps makes it easier to collaborate through sharing resources and even mimicking other well-known and often-used software products in an online environment, further reducing the cost of software licensing for businesses, charities and other users.
Google has a variety of products that can be easily integrated into a business of almost any size. The Google name has almost become synonymous with the Internet itself with many people using the company name as a verb meaning to do a web search.
If you are an entity looking for a low-cost IT solution, Google probably has a plan that will fit your budget. Check them out and see if they have a solution that’s right for you.