Sunday, November 25, 2007

CIT 2007 - Google Apps Education Edition

At CIT 2007 there were three themes that became clear to me - these themes were engagement, collaboration, and mobility. As educators we need to engage our learners across all of the generations - boomers, Gen Y, Gen X, millennials, and neo-millennials (a term used a lot at the conference - not sure if it's the same as millennials, or a new generation). To do that we have to go where they are at and technology will certainly help that. Secondly, modern learning has to be collaborative - there is just too much information and knowledge out there for one solitary learners to acquire, distill, and use. Collaborative knowledge is the future of learning, and finally we need to be mobile because our learners are mobile whether it be the devices they use, the places they live or how they consume learning (and they ARE consumers - for many learning and their education is just another product purchased for consumption).

One of the tools presented at CIT 2007 that helps meet the themes of engagement, collaboration, and mobility is Google Apps Education Edition. This online suite of tools includes the following Google tools:
  • GMail
  • Google Talk
  • Google calendar
  • Google Docs
  • Page Creator
  • Google Personalized Start (iGoogle)
  • Access to other tools like Google Spreadsheets, Google Presentations, Google Notebook, and Google groups, along with extensibility APIs
Google apps are user-centric, collaborative and available wherever there is a Web browser (engaging, collaborative, and mobile). Google Apps Education edition is free for students, faculty, staff, and alumni of an institution and can be customized with an institution's domain. It is ads-optional for students, faculty, and staff. It comes with integration support and 24x7 administrator support.

Central Piedmont Community College has switched to Google Apps. It has been available for use at CPCC since May 2007.

Personally I think that Google Apps Education Edition is the perfect solution for today's post-secondary learning environment - it meets the needs of learners, faculty,a nd staff - it's available whereverthey are - classrooms, labs, home, coffee shops, anywhere ther is a browser. But there are issues - and those are issues of data sharing and privacy. In order for Google Apps to work and to have access to Google's search algorithms and "secret sauce" (everyone at CIT 2007 had a secret sauce - what's yours?) some data needs to be stored on Google servers loacted in the US and not located at the institution (a particular problem for Canadian Institutions due to PIPEDA, our personal information privacy legislation). This could cause issues because Google will share information when:
  • With user consent
  • Imminent harm
  • 3rd Party processing
  • Satisfy applicable laws
  • Terms of Service
  • Fraud
If the issues of data storage and access can be satisfactorily addressed then I would strongly encourage all institutions to use Google Apps Education edition - it is a suite of tools for the future of learning that is available now...


Benjamin Boudreau said...

I highly recommend Google Analytics for a blogger such as yourself. A simple set-up lets you track all sorts of data about your traffic, keywords, and visitors. Best of all, it's as easy as all the other google products.

Ian H. MacLeod said...

Benjamin - you are absolutely right - I've been using Google Analytics for some time now and they do give a lot of useful information.

Thanks for the comment.