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Google Apps E-Mail Service Technology Issues Larry Ethier--Ouagadougou May 13, 2007 ________________________________________________________________ Thanks to those four schools who responded to the use (or considered use) of Google Apps. Here are the responses for everyone's consideration. Happy wind down (up?) all. Cheers, Larry Ethier ISO 1. We use google docs and spreadsheets at the admin level to collaborate on such things as the weekly Instruction Council Meeting agenda and other docs that require collaboration and we really find it useful. We considered going to google for our email but our tech people are skeptical so are waiting to make that move. 2. I brought his email/suggestion to my tech committee and they advised against it primarily due to our existing functionality being the same and not less cost-effective. 3. We have become the first school to use Google Apps in this region that we know of and we love it. It is accessible from anywhere in the world, you can customize the home page, the technicians love the reliability, the spell checker works great, it keeps the cost of continuous upgrades of server size off of the school budget and has a great spam filter. I was a little nervous when we first made the switch but it works for us. The mailbox size for students and teachers is huge (Over 2000 MB per person) . You can request from Google Apps that they block advertisement from students on their email log in page. One downside I see from the administrative side is not being able to get into student email accounts easily if you think there is some cyber bullying going on. I have raised this concern with Google and they are working on the legality of allowing an overseas administrator to have password codes. If your school takes it on, I would suggest that the password and user name is signed off by the students when the AUP form gets passed in to IT department. This switch this year has easily saved us plenty of time and money. We are still working through some issues but this is the first time in 10 years as an administrator that the staff grumbles about school email systems have been next to zero. No doubt we will find some problems as we go along but so far, we are quite happy with this system. It has been a trial for us this year. For smaller schools with limited budgets and technician time, google apps works. For large schools, have your technicians experiment with it. There are downsides. I do worry that Google may commercialize the site with plenty of advertising in a few years but they have told us they won't. There are some very large universities switching to Google Apps. 4. At this time, we are using gmail. So mail comes to the IST gmail account and it is then forwarded to the MS Outline/Exchange program we have been using. Out IT folks are giving apps a try. Also, we are looking at Open Source operating systems and programs similar to MS Office. 5. (Offered by Allen Benson in March this year): We have had many problems with our own internal email server running Novell Groupwise with some serious interruptions of service over the year, massive SPAM issues, and a problem that we can't get on site to service the server should it go down during elections here in Venezuela because we are a voting center and locked out of school during elections. Thus we investigated switching to GMAIL for the whole school. The GMAIL for organizations is free for the moment and the conversion is simple and painless. The best part may be the enhanced SPAM filtering and search capabilities that come with GMAIL. We did not have to change our email addresses as GMAIL was able to take our normal email addresses for direct use in their system. We have been using the service for a couple of weeks now and everyone is very happy with it. It will also yield significant cost savings in maintenance and service costs eventually for us. We are also considering converting our whole school to a combo of Google Docs and Open Office. Both are free and may save us thousands of dollars in reduced site license fees from Microsoft. The Google Docs (and Spreadsheet) are internet based and thus are stored on the web and the user must have internet access to work on the docs but the docs can be saved in different formats and thus can be worked on in various ways. The Open Office is a free version of a full office suite including word processing, spreadsheet, database, and equation writer. It is downloadable from the web at www.openoffice.org <http://www.openoffice.org> . This program has most of the bells and whistles that Microsoft Office offers and most that many of us need. So we are considering a combo of Google Docs for when we have internet access and the Open Office to work on docs when we don't. I love the equation editor on Open Office.
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