There are just a couple of big, global players with enough muscle to offer well functioning – and free – web based packages to educational institutions. These services include different varieties of the classical Office suite (word processing, presentation, spreadsheet) plus web publishing solutions. Two of the best known of these online packages are Google Apps for Education (GAFE) and Office 365 Edu from Microsoft. Apple has recently also joined the race with iCloud but it seems that – so far – they are still playing catch-up. Google has a very obvious advantage since the company is completely based on Internet use; pretty much everyone else is trying to transfer old school products to the web.
These cloud services have the power to give education an incredible boost, considering both the cost(!), the workflow and especially the amazing possibilities to collaboration and sharing. However, it is obvious that the legislation has not caught up with the technology and in many countries the educators are frustrated by the slow pace of change. This is definitely true in Sweden but hey, there are many schools and universities that are already enjoying the GAFE advantages on my Nordic latitudes! I’m proud to say that one of these is mine.
In this Hangout we talked about the situation in several countries – including Finland, Sweden, Germany, Cyprus and the USA. We focused mostly on Google Apps for Education, for the simple reason that several of the panel members are using the service. On top of that, we got some interesting news from Bjorn Behrendt who continues to develop the excellent gClassFolders GAFE add-on which makes it very easy to create an extremely smart folder structure in the Google cloud. I couldn’t do without gCF!
Once again, many thanks to the panel members and it was really great that Doxa Savva from Cyprus also managed to join us!
The audio-only version of the Hangout is available here.
See you On Air!