This document outlines a number of the factors influencing our decision to migrate to Google Apps for Education. We will update it as new questions arise.
What’s special about Google Apps for Education?
Google Apps for Education (GAFE) is a specially “packaged” version of the same Google tools an individual can have access to by simply signing up for an account: Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, etc. Unlike the personal accounts, however, GAFE accounts are managed by the educational institution. This allows us to, among other things, set up accounts for all of our students and staff, control access for students, and leverage group features for collaboration within the district. It makes sharing within the district easier, while also making it easier to be open to the world, where appropriate. This level of management isn’t possible with individual, personal Google accounts.
What exactly is Google Apps for Education replacing?
Most significantly, Google Apps will replace FirstClass. However, because Google's products include many more features than FirstClass, we may find that there are solutions to other communication, collaboration and sharing needs. We have already begun using Google Calendars instead of FirstClass calendars and shared Google Docs instead of emailing documents or uploading to wikis.
Why are we migrating to Google Apps for Education?
Here are a number of reasons for our switch from First Class to Google Apps:
When are we migrating?
Barring unforeseen circumstances, we will be switching over on or around July 6, 2012. At that time:
One reason for migrating when we are is that we had already begun using Google’s services. That train left the station sometime last year. Another is that we pay annually for First Class and, as with other systems, we re-evaluate the need each year, prior to renewing.
What about students?
As with First Class, we will create student accounts based on need, beginning in the fall. We anticipate creating accounts for all students in grades 5-8. Classroom teachers in other grades who want to use Google Apps with their students should work with Court, Julie, Tracy, Tammy, or Jody to work out details.
How will I learn about Google Apps?
By the end of the school year, you should have had the opportunity to attend a number of training sessions. Between now and the start of the 2012-2013 school year, you can sign up for a D102 University (Summer Academy) session in MyLearningPlan. In the fall, we will work with the buildings to provide whatever opportunities are necessary to bring everyone up to speed.
How will I check my email?
The primary way to access email will be via Google’s web interface for Gmail. If you already have a Gmail account, you are familiar with this. In addition, because of Google’s openness, there are numerous other options for connecting, including apps on all major smart phones as well as dedicated mail client software for computers.
Will my email address change?
Absolutely not! The change will be completely invisible to the outside world.
What will happen to all of my saved mail?
The FirstClass server will continue to function for the foreseeable future. You will be able to log in and access your saved mail. However, we strongly encourage you to migrate to Google any mail you want ready access to. Here are instructions for migrating FirstClass mail to Google.
Will Google Apps eliminate the need for Word, Excel, Pages, etc.?
There will continue to be a need for traditional “office” software on computers, because Google’s apps are not as full-featured. However, we anticipate that Google Apps will suffice for the majority of day-to-day uses.
What will happen to conferences from First Class?
Conferences serve a number of purposes in the district, from simple one-to-many communication to many-to-many discussions and document storage. We will look at how each conference is being used and make sure that function is replicated using Google Apps. We anticipate one of several solutions:
What other Google features will be available?
We will be starting with Gmail, Contacts, Groups, Google Docs and Google Calendars, because those features are represent the core features we have been using in First Class. Over time, however, we’ll explore other features that are available as part of our Google Apps domain, including Google Sites and YouTube.
How do I log into the district Google Apps domain?
The most direct way is to go to this address: http://google.com/a/d102.org
Log in using your district username and whatever password you set. (If this is your first time logging in, you'll need to use the temporary password provided by the Tech Dept.)
You can also log in by going to the main Google page (http://google.com). The main difference going this route is that you have to put in your entire email address (include the "@d102.org" part).