Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Transitioning our Google Apps Account

In 2008 we became a school using  Google Apps for Education .  This means that Pt England School set up our  domain with Google Apps for Education ie we signed on with Google and became an account holder using the domain name ptengland.school.nz.  This free service for schools allows the account administrators to choose Apps from the limited list made available. We are able to 
  • create accounts for teachers and students
  • manage all the accounts
  • communicate, collaborate and customise in a cloud-based environment
...all hosted on Google's servers at Google's expense.
"Google Apps for Education offers a free (and ad-free) set of customizable tools that enable faculty, staff and students to work together and learn more effectively."
 We had a very gradual introduction experience, with the early adopters piloting the use of Google Apps initially. Next we added all teachers, then we added class accounts for the students to share (eg room29@ptengland.school.nz). Finally after 18 months we provided the students with individual accounts, set up for us by Hapara.

We also introduced the Apps gradually, leaving email till the teachers had become used to Docs, Sites etc.  We have found this process remarkably smooth and have enjoyed the collaborative opportunities created by this cloud based learning and teaching environment.  So much so that we discovered an urgent need to give the students 1:1 access, as you have read much about in this blog.

Recently the Admin Dashboard has been displaying a notice that our Google Apps account would soon be transitioned to a new infrastructure.  The selling point seems to be that we will have the opportunity to add dozens more Apps to our domain account and we will only have to sign on in one place to access them all. For anyone who has had the frustration of having a separate account for Blogger, Picassa, Google Reader etc etc this seems like a great idea.

It is a great idea, BUT ... there's a catch.  For those of us who have used the same email address (ie our school email address) to sign up in many places we are now going to have conflicting accounts to deal with. More about that next post.

We were being offered two options; to work through the transition process ourself in our own time OR to have Google do it for us when 'they' decided to. 
We chose to work through it at our own pace and I decided to write a series of posts documenting the process we are going through as a school.

The video below is from Google explaing why this is a great idea.  I particularly love the Admin guy sitting at his desk throwing Apps into the keepers and ignore piles.