Google Apps for DC Public Schools


Ever since, I blogged about our DC chancellor, Michelle Rhee and her recent accomplishment for our school system, I’ve become more jazzed to provide our public school system with more support.

In addition to my blog post yesterday about integrating the power of social media to our school system, here is another one – The Google Apps for DC school, which has already been embraced by other public school including both the school officials and the students.

As a father of two little ones myself, I believe Google Apps could bring great benefits to our school system – both financially and academically. The only concern I have is making sure Google docs are implemented correctly. Chatting between kids in the classroom and sharing docs could cause a problem if not administered properly.

Google Apps in education is compelling in so many ways – access to a common e-mail, chat system, cloud-based collaboration tools, and a robust multimedia streaming service. Here are three major benefits:

1. Boosting Motivation and Performance

Survey from other public schools who have already implemented Google Apps shows their students involved in this program have been increasing their reading ability at rates faster than anything we’ve seen before.

Other surveys show that 47% of students now perform at grade level for math, up from 27%. Additionally, there have been greater focus and fewer disciplinary problems.  Behavior has improved, attendance is higher, and suspension levels have fallen.

Both educators’ observations are par for the course, as other classroom experiments confirm that technology in education helps to boost student interest..

2. Preparation for the Real World

In addition to the obvious benefits of collaboration and familiarity with technology, Google Apps is helping to prepare students for the outside world in some innovative ways. At University of Notre Dame, for instance, Engineering students keep a running e-portfolio of the classroom projects with Google Sites. The digital accumulation of their college efforts will likely mean more to future employers than the bullet points on a resume.

A Maine Township teacher is using Google Spreadsheets to free the science classroom from the confines of the textbook. Students conduct actual experiments and code the data in collaborative online tables. In this instance, students get their hands dirty, literally, by measuring plant growth in various soil types, and analyzing the data using digital tools, just as a real scientist would. This common sense model seems like an inexpensive and engaging way to help the Department of Education meet its goal of increasing U.S. scientific competitiveness, as outlined in the ambitious “Race to the Top” agenda.

3. And, Of course Saving Money

Google Apps for educational institutions is free. The savings largely come from the replacement of legacy e-mail systems and desktop office application suites, and these figures include the associated costs of IT support and infrastructure upgrades. For Steve Nelson, Technology of Director of Oregon Virtual Schools, these savings allow the state to provide multimedia streaming services that support student-generated content, which he says was “not economically feasible” without Google.

As a supporter of Google Apps,  I know that at the university level, there are a lot of other issues to deal with besides a cost/feature analysis. I know of a large university which recently halted a migration to Google apps because of the legal issues surrounding where the data is actually stored.

At the moment, Google doesn’t offer an Apps “appliance” and therefore all  Google Apps data is stored in the cloud. Google is also not guaranteeing what countries the data might be stored in, they are only confirming a small list of countries where the data will definitely not be stored. This should be a cause of concern for institutes with a large number of international students who might have issues with their personal and private data subject being to subpoena by various governments around the world where their data might be hosted.
If the data were hosted specifically (and solely) by the university, they would be able to guarantee security of potentially sensitive information. As is stands, Google makes no guarantees of this sort.

For elementary and high schools, Google’s solutions are an excellent and cheap option. For universities, there are other factors to consider and I believe until they make an appliance available (as they have already done for search) it is not in the best interest of large universities to use Google Apps.

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About Elias Shams
I have been a serial entrepreneur in telecom and social media space for past 12 years or so. I hold a M.S. degree in Telecommunication Engineering from the George Washington University and a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland. I’ve lived and worked in many countries and cities including London England, Tehran Iran, Bonn Germany, Paris France, Alicante Spain, Delhi India, and my favorite of all Washington, DC of great US of A. Two of the greatest Washington, DC based companies I worked for and very proud of are Yurie Systems which was sold to Lucent in 1998 for $1.23 B and telezoo.com that I founded in 1999. I am currently the founder and awesomizer @ awesomize.me

6 Responses to Google Apps for DC Public Schools

  1. Pingback: CLEAR 4G Mobile Internet Service In Central Washington, D.C. Area « Awesome DC

  2. Google apps for small business is a very powerful and cost effective solution .
    For large businesses , Google apps has specialty security offering .

    City of LA ( 30,000 ) users , Genetec 17000 ) users, City of Orlando and over 2 million business are taking advantage of Google apps .

    We start using it in early 2007 and in 2010 , we start offering Google apps as an Authorized Google Apps agent.

    We also stated the “googlelator” program . This is the way we are building our team .– please see

    https://sites.google.com/a/innovaglobal.com/innovaglobal-us/

    We have also Googleized , Real Estate , Practice brokers, Insurance agencies, Dental practitioners, Carbon Trade , Technology Consultant, Car dealership, Manufacturer rep companies and many more ..

    it is a solid solution at $4.17 a month . It is hard to believe but this is an evolution and not a revolution , thus many just do not believe it is possible to have extremely secure environment that offer all exchange type services but collaboratively and also allow IT staff to move from maintenance and support mode to do actually helping CFO and CTO to increase business and add to bottom line with IT and communication innovation .

    I strongly suggest this new video to be watched .

    http://www.salesforce.com/googleapps/

  3. Roy Ruhling says:

    Oregon Public Schools went to Google Apps – http://www.govtech.com/gt/articles/757693

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