Google @ EDU Seminar Reflections

Today I was at a google for education seminar to hear from Google’s education division and the stories of how UNCGreensboro and Chapel Hill-Carboro City Schools have transitioned. The punchline… it really is as easy and users are as satisfied with the transition as I have immagined doing my own research. I know I’m probably concidered biased based on my affinity for Google apps, but I find affininty for anything that just wroks well and is intuitive.

The best line form the seminar was when Jamie Carbaro from Google says: “We teach kids how to cross the street, we don’t ban cars.” The statement was in regards to internet access and CIPA, COPA, ect. compliance. And he’s right! There is no excuse to hide students from the internet applicaitons because there are inappropriate things that they could do or could access. They need to be taought the good reasons and methods to access web apps like Facebook like creating a digital presence that their future colleges and employers will be looking for.

I think the funniest thing about this seminar is how easy all the aspects of going Google have been made. They really want this to work without complicating or requiring a lot of complicated coding. When asked if there were any questions… there were rarely any. Which leads the Google presenters to say, “you should just try it … it’s easy.” I find this to be the statement I hear when someone is confident in their product and know it is durable. Just try it, you can’t break it, you can fix it if you mess up.

I also had a chance to see the Chrome Book in action. I also heard what I’ve suspected, Chrome OS is the same as the Chrome browser. At least they have the same interface. The potential for a Chrome Book to be affordable and functional make it an exciting new option for a 1:1 initiative. As long as you have a consistent wifi solution. They do come with 3G capabilities, but you have to pay for that service on top of the $20/month lease for the device (quoted for both the Samsung and the Acer products).

At some point, I may consider a Chrome book for myself, but when I consider the kind of computing most my friends and family do… I would recomend it without hesitation. The device can boot up and get you checking email, writing a google doc, and using any social networking site in seconds. All applications are handled through the Chrome App Store, a model we are quite familiar thanks to Apple. I think Chrome will have a better success in educaiton than Android is right now for the reason that there is one Chrome app store, making finding applications simple and croudsourced.

Though I don’t know the future of Google in my district, I appreciate the efforts that Google has put forth to make it possible for education institutions to even entertain the notion that there are options outside of Microsoft. As a side note, I mentioned the lack of pivot tables in Google Spreadsheets in a post several months ago. I learned today that Google has since made them a part of a recent update. They are always innovating and updating their services! Though Google Docs may lack some of the more obscure aspects of MS Office, there is a good chance they will have an update… soon!

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