Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Google apps in schools

We have been using Google Apps for education for a term now, and have been finding it rather good, our biggest problem is not training or support, but rather our Internet Connections. We are a school of over 1800+ students. 
We have three ADSL connections into the school, all three are locked at 50 Gig of data a month. We constantly hit this with all three accounts and are trying to figure out ways to reduce bandwidth. 
We are on the lookout each day and week for the top websites of the day. Most of these are google sites but it is interesting how many of them are proxy sites for the students to get around our filters. These are a constant problem with student addicted to bebo. But that is another matter. 
It is great to see so many collaborative works in progress. With the ability to share documents the social studies department has become a hive of activity as students work in groups. This has not been able to be handled to great in the past with Microsoft ability, or non ability to do collaborative documents. Also the use of the google apps sites program, to create websites/wikis on topics and have other groups post information on topics they have worked on or provide questions and answers to topics. We are looking at how we can use these in other departments within the school. 
Staff are looking at a 21st century learning environment that is different. 
The ICT committee at school are looking at how to create a combined solution that uses Google Apps for student support - applications on tap but also KnowledgeNET for courses, tracking and support. KnowledgeNET is our Learning Management System. 

Some of our draw backs have not been at school, but more at getting the infrastructure in place. getting our domain host company to create the MX and CNAME records, total of 3 weeks to get done. Getting Google to recognise the K-12 status of our school, took a week and a number of emails back and forth to explain to them how the New Zealand system works. 
Also the management of students, google do not provide a facility to place extra information rather than first name, last name, login name and password, you cannot create extra field like a ID number or year level. 
So it has meant that we do not remove students that have left until the end of the year, it also means that we have to individually find each student at the end of the year and delete the account. So for a roll of 1820+ we have 1950 accounts created on google apps.

No comments: