Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Leaving the Office for the Cloud

This fall, we have had more students, teachers and administrators use Google Docs in lieu of Word, Powerpoint and Excel. Two factors seem to be driving this migration—first, with a stronger emphasis on collaboration in most districts, Google Docs allows for a more seamless venue for multiple writers. Second, “cloud” computing, as we know, does not constrain us to networks, jump drives, or emailing documents—we can access them anywhere. Many of my colleagues see Google Docs as a great “addition” to their digital arsenal.

But what about a replacement?

I received a call from the tech director of one of our feeder districts who posed that exact question. She discovered that discontinuing their current Office contract with Microsoft would save her tiny district $20,000 annually. Instead, she proposed, they adopt the Google Apps for Educators and use Google Docs as their primary software for word processing, presentations, and spreadsheets. When she surveyed her district the response was explosive. “Absolutely not!” was the resounding cry. Although I empathized with the tech director’s frustration, I also understood the position of the staff. And thinking about it prompted me to ponder, “Could we do that here?” Could two high schools, 6,000 students, and 400 teachers live a digital life on the “cloud?”

Why go to the cloud (Google Docs):
• More cost efficient: no need to purchase additional software

• Reduce server dependence

• No limit of space

• Easy access from anywhere

• Collaboration and individual creation become seamless

• Simpler interface

Why Stay in the Office:
• More robust support

• More sophisticated applications

• More universally accepted

• Perceived improved security

• Not reliant on an internet connection
With regard to the cloud being more cost efficient, there is Open Office, which is, in essence, a free download of “Office-like” software, and if you want to collaborate with word there is Office Live, which uses existing Microsoft Office products in a collaborative environment. These “hybrids” can also be considered.
At this point I would like your feedback. Please respond to this quick survey. I will discuss results on my next post.

1 comment:

Mrs. Brogley said...

We are in the same situation, but our district is very much in favor of heading into Google Apps. Here's the issue - They want gmail, but we've already set a precedent to archive 100% of staff, students, admin, and school board. Can you guess the $$$$ amount there?