Advice needed - Switching school email to Google Apps for Education

My school is planning to switch over to Google Apps for our email next year. I am looking for advice, suggestions and experiences and materials that might help us make this process go smoothly.

Also, if you are at an independent school, please let me know.

Thanks so much.
-Liz

Tags: Gmail, Googleappsforeducation, email, googleApps

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Liz,
I teach at a very small (4 teachers) alternative high school. We were planning on using Google Apps as well this year. Three days before the beginning of the school year I logged on to our Google start page and pretended to be a student so I would have a feel for how to walk the students through the process the next week. At first I thought it was great that students could customize their start pages until I started looking at all of the widgets that they could add! There were widgets that were completely inappropriate in an educational setting. Students could add nearly naked Hooters, Playboy, and Maxim models. There were also all kinds of raunchy "tip of the day" widgets.

You would think that educational institutions could opt out of the racy widgets, but no such luck. If I remember correctly we contacted Google and asked them to remove them in late August. They said it would take them two weeks at the most to take them down. It is now late November and nothing has been changed.

I have heard from many people who have said that Google is just not ready to offer services to K-12 yet. I hope that the have moved in the right direction over the last few months and can offer a better product in the future.

The other issue that came up for us was that our students had to have email accounts. I have an incredibly limited amount of knowledge when it comes to eRate, but our "experts" would not allow us to use Gmail. They have a myriad of flimsy reasons why we could not use it, but in the end we decided to go with Gaggle. It works well with GoogleApps and our techs are able to monitor all incoming and outgoing email.

Liz, I hope this helps. I am looking forward to following this discussion in the coming months.
Beth,
Thanks for the heads up on the iGoogle page content. I will look in to that, as these email accounts will be for students and teachers.
-Liz
I hope it not too late to advise you. Well there are a lot of questions in this thread which must be answered.

I will first talk about the gmail privacy. well in this digital age, I don't believe that any other is more secure then gmail.. are all same and we are equally vulnerbale to privacy threats in all the email services.

The university in which I studied had implemented Google Apps and I was so excited because it Gmail is my favorite email service and earlier, I had all my mails forwarded to my personal Gmail account. Later, when my university incorporated Google Apps I felt a relief.

I believe the collaborative environment in the Google Apps like Google Sites, Google Docs and Google Calendar can really boost a group productivity. It is easier to brainstorm, collaborate and reseach even if you are not in university or even if you are not in the city.

I work with an organization which deals in online education and provides help in distance learning. They themselves have implemented Google Apps and also recommend it to others.

So, if you talk about privacy, its not only Gmail which is insecure; but its only Gmail which is the best email service out there.

Second, the issue of widgets, I think that's not an issue as Google allows the administrators to only allow those widgets, they think are useful to students.

Third, I also support Gaagle. Its really a great service for edcational organizations.

As far as I percieve Google Apps, it is really a great application for online educators and online learners at the same time. when the notion of distance learning is rapidly growing, I believe that each organization will have a service like Google Apps (not necessarily Google Apps). But as Google Apps is free for educational organizations, I think its an ideal service for all online schools or distance learning education providers.

Thank you,
Allen Anderson
Here's a link I found on another CR20 discussion which eliminates all but google designed widgets...
http://www.google.com/support/a/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=45473

Cheers
Ben
Hi Liz,

I use Google Apps since the beginning (2006) but exclusively for the staff...and my advice is: go, go, go... :o)

Greetings from Africa
Henri
Henri,
Were there any concerns from your staff about the privacy of the email - i.e. Google could read it if they wanted to?
-Liz
Liz,

Some of our email are very "sensitive" (as a french school abroad, we receive emails from embassies,gov agencies,..etc etc) and believe me, I'm very IT security aware :o)

On the Gmail FAQ about privacy you will find the following statement:

All email services scan your email. They do this routinely to provide such popular features as spam filtering, virus detection, search, spellchecking, forwarding, auto-responding, flagging urgent mess ages, converting incoming email into cell phone text messages, automatic saving and sorting into folders, converting text URLs to clickable links, and reading messages to the blind. These features are widely accepted, trusted, and used by hundreds of millions of people every day.

Google scans the text of Gmail messages in order to filter spam and detect viruses, just as all major webmail services do. Google also uses this scanning technology to deliver targeted text ads and other related information. This is completely automated and involves no humans.

When a user opens an email message, computers scan the text and then instantaneously display relevant information that is matched to the text of the message. Once the message is closed, ads are no longer displayed. It is important to note that the ads generated by this matching process are dynamically generated each time a message is opened by the user--in other words, Google does not attach particular ads to individual messages or to users' accounts.

When email messages are fully protected from unwanted disclosure, the automatic scanning of email does not amount to a violation of privacy. Neither email content nor any personal information is ever shared with other parties as a result of our ad-targeting process.

A very good ressource too... the EPIC website have a Gmail privacy FAQ
I signed our small school district up for google email. It's been great since it's free and more private than a school district who also can read your emails and know who's being talked about. But, our school just went through a state audit process with the emphasis being on IT. One of the things Albany did not like was us using "free" email. To comply next year our official school email will be changed to Groupwise a BOCES paid service.

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