Monday, July 28, 2008

Going Google

As Christine, Alicia & I have been planning our summer thing (at times called "camp," "institute," "workshop," etc.), we have decided that we are going to really push using the collaborative tools available with a free Google account.

Why use Google tools?  I'll be honest -- it's partially selfish.  When Microsoft made the Office 2007/2008 upgrade earlier this year, it made our lives pretty miserable at the school level.  Kids would create documents or .ppts at home and then find that they could not open them at school.  We found this crazy workaround with Adobe Illustrator, but it only works with documents, not .ppts.

When I looked into upgrading our 1000+ machines at SHHS to the latest version of Office, I discovered that it would cost us $50,000.  And for what?  So that we can continue to use a product that we already have, with some additional features?  To what might that money translate?  That's 50 desktop upgrades or ~100 projectors or ~130 document cameras or 50 laptops (which would upgrade 3 of our mobile carts).  We simply cannot put that $ towards Office 2008 when we have so many other pressing needs.

Will GoogleApps do everything Office will do?  No, but it gets very close for the majority of tasks for which we use Word/Powerpoint/Excel.  And, for our students, it gives them the ability to access their work from anywhere that has an internet connection.  No more jump drives, emailed documents, etc.  The other huge plus is that it allows a teacher to collaborate on the same document with a student and see all revisions without the need to print.  Or, it allows students to do some peer editing activities that are currently not possible.

So, Smoky, say hello to GoogleApps.