I think it’s awesome to see Oregon take this jump forward. I’m a big fan of free web tools (even if they’re ad supported). It makes complete sense to use tools that all kids can access, save IT costs,remove worries about compatibility, and increase the ability to collaborate. There are many reasons I can think of how this can be beneficial:
- Kids who cannot afford the latest version of an office-like product, let alone a computer at home can always access their documents when they are at a public library or at school.
- IT resources can be put to more productive means.
- There is no need for kids to take up room on school servers.
- No more usb memory sticks = no more bugs transferred
- Certain documents can be shared and kids and teachers can work collaboratively
- No need for expensive software licenses for school
Even better, Oregon is sharing its parental consent forms and other agreements so other schools don’t have to start from scratch and google is providing tech support. Sounds like a win/win to me. We’ll see though, Oregon has a five year agreement with Google.
Not to be outdone, near the end of the article, Microsoft announced a partnership with ePals, which is used by some 600,000 educators in 200 countries. Under that deal, ePals this fall will add Microsoft’s Live@edu eMail and calendaring software to its safe platform for teachers and students to communicate and collaborate online, and next year ePals users will have access to web-based versions of popular Microsoft Office tools as well.
You can read an article about Oregon’s new deal at eschoolnews which is also a great resource for teachers. By the way, Google Message Security is included free for K-12 schools that sign up before July, 2010. A great way to beat it’s competitors, but it might be worth it just to sign up.