District-Wide Switch to Google Apps
On May 29, 2012, an email from Superintendent of Schools Dr. Elliot Landon to all staff announced that Google Apps for Education will be the new software used by teachers and students district-wide.
According to the announcement, the decision came at the end of a process that has worked “to identify a single software product to best enhance the ability of our teachers and students to collaborate online.”
Google Apps Education is it. The software is a suite of hosted applications exclusively for schools and universities, and the two most notable changes will be the replacement of FirstClass with Gmail, and Microsoft Office with Google Docs.
For some, this comes as great news, and for others, a looming anxiety. “We’re very concerned,” said Christina Richardson, an English teacher at Staples. “Most of us are completely unfamiliar. By taking away Word Processor, my biggest worry is how do I reformat?”
Some teachers are concerned about the transfer of documents that they’ve had accumulating for as many as 20 years. Others fear for security. Many are worried for the learning curve. However, others see the silver lining.
“Google Docs is endless,” says English teacher Mary Elizabeth Fulco. “As much as you want, wherever you want.” This will help solve the problem of overflowing hard drives. However, Fulco knows the switch will require a lot of time. “I can only transfer document by document,” she said. “It’s not just a click of a button. It’s not just a drag. I know it’s going to take hours and hours.”
For teachers and staff, the switch has already begun and will span through the end of June, while students will have accessibility starting at the end of August. Blackboard will still exist along with the Google Apps program.
“It has features that create opportunity for collaboration, a bit more easily than I get impression Blackboard does,” said English teacher Kristin Veenema. “It’s got a good reputation behind it. It’s Google.”