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Internet Related/Filtering/Firewall Thread, Google Apps for Education - Advantages / Disadvantages in Technical; Hi, We have a teacher who has been sold on the whole Google Apps for Education and has been speaking ...
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    tudorcrisp's Avatar
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    Google Apps for Education - Advantages / Disadvantages

    Hi,

    We have a teacher who has been sold on the whole Google Apps for Education and has been speaking to the headteacher saying this is free and that is free, we can save massive amounts with regards to our ICT spending. Obviously the head teacher is very interested and has asked us to put a pro's & con's list together to see if we should move towards this scenario.

    There are lots of threads already and I have been through most of them, however I want to hear people's experiences of Google Apps for Education, how it is implemented in the school and how easy it is to setup, for instance do you have Single Sign On initialised, do you link the My Documents & Email systems on the network? Would you rather be using the Live@Edu system?

    Thanks, I look forward to reading your replies.

    Nick

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    AngryTechnician's Avatar
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    We looked at both, but to extend our capabilities rather than to make savings on existing equipment/software. Neither is a replacement for the full Office suite, for example, but both can save on email costs.

    My advice is to look very carefully at whether any functionality you propose to replace by moving to one of these systems is actually equivalent functionality. Teachers will be up in arms if you swap what they have for something more limited, regardless of the cost savings, and I would be asking SMT to take 100% of the flak for that if they make the decision based only on cost.

    My opinion is that Google Apps is better suited for Primary or small/special schools, while Live@Edu is better suited to Secondary and above. We therefore went with Google Apps. It should be noted that we have retained our on-premises Exchange server for staff, as we use features in Exchange that are not available in Gmail.

    A large factor in my preference for GA in primary is that Live@Edu provides no way to disable access to Windows Live Messenger when at home (you can disable the chat functions in the webmail but this doesn't stop you using the desktop app). Essentially, we felt that providing a monitored email account to a 10yo was justified, but providing an unmonitored IM account was unacceptable.

    Our GA setup will sync account details and passwords, but users still have to log in with their credentials manually. There are ways of achieving automatic logon but they aren't simple to implement. We trialled both GA and Live@Edu, and I found GA significantly easier to set up, and requires only negligible server resource to do the account syncing (Live@Edu recommends a fresh server with 2GB RAM to run the sync software).
    Last edited by AngryTechnician; 1st December 2011 at 11:35 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tudorcrisp View Post

    There are lots of threads already and I have been through most of them, however I want to hear people's experiences of Google Apps for Education,
    It has been really successful here. some very minor issues, almost all were training. Most of the teachers have taken straight to google apps and cite pedagogical advantages over traditional systems. It has also saved us huge amounts of time and money.

    Quote Originally Posted by tudorcrisp View Post

    how it is implemented in the school and how easy it is to setup, for instance do you have Single Sign On initialised,
    Very easy to setup, it integrates very well with active directory and single sign on through moodle, shibboleth or through a third party.

    Quote Originally Posted by tudorcrisp View Post

    do you link the My Documents & Email systems on the network?
    Email integrates perfectly, we ditched outlook but it will work with it (apart from 'tasks' apparently). You can use in conjunction with regular 'mapped' drives, get a third party pluging to map a drive to google or use google as a repository for Moodle.

    Quote Originally Posted by tudorcrisp View Post
    Would you rather be using the Live@Edu system?
    No. from what I've read the integration with AD is poor, and there are far fewer services that MS offer compared to Google. Google apps isn't just for collaborative working and email, there are all kinds of services, like picasa, video and eportfolios through google sites that are useful for schools,

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    tudorcrisp (1st December 2011)

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    tudorcrisp's Avatar
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    Thank you both for your replies, We are a secondary school here and we currently only have the staff on our email system - an Exchange server. Are there any Secondary schools out there that are using Google Apps? Have you looked at it and decided not to go forward with it?

    Thank you again for any comments

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    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    Some of the issues which have been raised with me about it (and we are getting in a trainer in who specialises in Google to speak with some of our schools) centre around how to make google Apps work for all users and still maintain a healthy and active level of filtering. The frequent change of how the search engines operates (including secure Google, access to changing Safe Search, etc) and the dropping of various products has been a pain. Since there is no strict roadmap you cannot always rely on what they offer now always being around, or being able to plan for the next version of things.

    For more info on Live@Edu I would suggest you have a look through the Live@Edu Blog or speak with James Marshall as he can give you more details. The recent webcasts are worth a look at.

    If you are looking for someone to speak work with the school on IT Strategy around Google then Zoe Ross is a good person to bring in (rates apply).

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    We have it here.

    Pros:

    It has massive amounts of space
    It costs nothing
    It integrates with various things (eg. Moodle, but beware - its best to do this straight away, not add it later - see a con below).
    Its easy to manage
    Backups etc... are dealt with by Google

    Cons:

    Some things are out of your control - such as backup/restore, and you have to rely on them to do things for you like that.
    Integration can be somewhat of a pain if you already set up Google Apps and then add stuff later. We are integrating Google with Moodle (which is already integrated with AD) and we've had a lot of issues.
    If you use integration - you have to give your API user full Super Admin rights it seems, which means a third party piece of software then has deletion rights.
    You don't have quite as much flexibility as you would with an exchange system

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    tudorcrisp's Avatar
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    Thank you again for your response

    localzuk - how did you find the setting up of the system? does it benefit the school? has it added to your workload in supporting it?

    Nick

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    I didn't set it up, I arrived afterwards, however from what I've been told it was very quick and easy!

    Its barely a job to manage to be honest.

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    Alis_Klar's Avatar
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    On the subject of backups, what options do you have if staff accidentally delete files. Does it have any kind of "time machine/previous versions" functionality?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alis_Klar View Post
    On the subject of backups, what options do you have if staff accidentally delete files. Does it have any kind of "time machine/previous versions" functionality?
    No, it has nothing like that as far as I'm aware. However, if you do want this sort of functionality, I believe you can add it via third party tools.

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    AngryTechnician's Avatar
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    On the other hand, they would have to delete it AND then empty/delete it from the Trash. Anything deleted in Docs always goes to the Trash first - AFAIK there is no 'delete immediately'.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alis_Klar View Post
    On the subject of backups, what options do you have if staff accidentally delete files. Does it have any kind of "time machine/previous versions" functionality?
    not for deleted files (deleted from all users, and from their bins). But there is a document revision history for google docs for errors, and google mail can be redirected to be stored on your own servers if you wish.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AngryTechnician View Post
    On the other hand, they would have to delete it AND then empty/delete it from the Trash. Anything deleted in Docs always goes to the Trash first - AFAIK there is no 'delete immediately'.
    What happens if a shared file is deleted by a user. Presumably only that user would see it it in their own trash. Everyone else would only see that the file is gone. Would an admin (of Google Apps for Domains) see who deleted it and be able to recover it?

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    How have you handled audit trails/item retention for specific accounts (SLT, Governors, anything to do with CEOP, Finance)?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alis_Klar View Post
    What happens if a shared file is deleted by a user. Presumably only that user would see it it in their own trash. Everyone else would only see that the file is gone. Would an admin (of Google Apps for Domains) see who deleted it and be able to recover it?
    If you own a file you can delete it for everybody, it gives the option delete for all users. Only the file owner can do this.

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