Google Apps or Live@Edu?
Friday, July 30th, 2010 | Author:

I’m writing this on the train on the way back from #gtauk – the Google Teacher Academy. It’s 9pm and I’m shattered but buzzing. There are so many different things that I could blog about, and I will, but for now it’s the toughest one.

NOTE – Although written on the way home, I sent this to a colleague at the LA to check through for me and to make sure I wasn’t saying anything inappropriate. Hence the delay in posting. Just for the record, although it was checked, it is being posted without any changes. This is 100% my blog post from the train home.

Let’s start by saying I don’t see myself as important, however I know that I have some influence. I have spent two years training teachers throughout Hampshire and I’ve been the full-time face of our Learning Platform. I’ve met hundreds of teachers and shared ideas with them. I know some of them read my blog, and will read this, so I do have some influence. This means I do have to be careful, well a bit careful, but I also want to be honest. I think my honesty is something that some people like and some people hate about me, but it’s who I am.

In Hampshire, we will soon be launching our cloud computing solution. This originally started as an email project to replace our outdated email solution. This soon became a cloud computing solution looking at Google or Live@edu from Microsoft. I’m a big fan of Google and we used it as part of the Learning Platform training, but the panel chose Live@edu. I was part of this panel, so why was the decision made?

Cost played a part. To tailor it to what we wanted, there was a large difference between the two. There was also the roadmap. Google famously don’t share their roadmap with anyone, apparently even with their staff. Is this a bad thing? I know lots of people love the love the fact Google move at 100mph and constantly add new features. We decided this would be a bad thing for most teachers as they would get used to one tool and then it would change the next day. This happened today with some of the lead learners and I heard ‘this wasn’t like this last week’ four or five times today. Would this be a nightmare for staff and for training? Possibly. So Live@edu was chosen and I duly signed up to be a pilot school starting in October. Then the GTA came along.

Like I said, I’m a fan of Google and I know what it can do, or at least I thought I did. I learnt so much today that next week I will be installing it in my school. That’s where the dilemma comes in. Do I need both? What would Live@edu bring to the table that I couldn’t do in Google? In Live@edu I can store and edit documents, albeit one user at a time. I would have email and I would have calendar. All of this is possible with Google though. With Live@edu, the accounts would be created by the LA and linked with other schools, this is a benefit, but is it a good enough reason for me to run both systems?

So why am I worried about the cloud? I know some people reading this would have dismissed Live@edu out-of-hand and I spoke to a few people today and they couldn’t see why I was even contemplating using it when Google is so much better. But like I said, if I do something differently, will it affect other schools and their usage? Am I thinking I have more influence than I actually do and they’ll all be fine? Surely there’s a need for both as a colleague has Google in his school and is also signing up for the Live@edu pilot.

There’s a lot of thought that needs to go into it, 9:30pm after two crazy days (yesterday I was at Naace) is not the ideal time to be thinking of these things. I’m going to a school that hasn’t been thinking of working online yet. I have the potential to change it completely, but I need to get it right. I have a tough decision ahead. I don’t want to go against the authority, but I also need to do what’s right for my school.

PS – A huge thanks to @dfearnley for double checking this. As I said, I haven’t edited it at all, but we are lucky to have a guy like Daniel in charge in Hampshire.