I seriously cannot remember what my life was like before I knew Google Drive and Apps for Education (GAFE).
Google has made my life easier in so many ways from shared calendars that keep my students’ assignment due dates organized (our Learning Management System (LMS) is lacking a robust calendar), to collaborative productivity documents like Slides, Docs, and Sheets.
It has allowed me to use my time efficiently with add-ons like Doctopus, PDF Mergy, and Coggle. It truly is no surprise that schools are migrating from Microsoft to Google.
Having moved from a university that used Outlook as its mail provider,to a university that is using Gmail, has made a world of difference.
Gmail’s simple integration features of adding items to my calendar from an email and attachments to my Drive saves me a ton of time. Making this transition for your school can also be done with ease.
Like all things Google, migrating your school to GAFE is easy. If you are a school administrator, simply Google: Google Apps for Education or follow the link to this site that will essentially walk you through the migration process.
Click on the blue box that says, Get Google Apps for Education, and then, Get Started. You will need to register your school, choose a domain, and confirm eligibility (by being a non-profit educational institution - it may take up to two weeks).
Through this process you can work and speak with an expert or take it on yourself. Another appealing feature about Google is that there are guides and resources to help you along the way.
Here is an Essential Resource Guide that provides background and overviews of all they have to offer. And once you make the transition and need help deploying GAFE you can use this Deployment Guide. The transition and support are easy, but you may also be asking how GAFE is different from your Gmail.
If you are already using a personal Gmail account you may ask how GAFE is different from your typical Gmail account. GAFE is free and offers 24/7 support, that alone may be worth the switch.
When your school transitions to GAFE, you gain access to Google Classroom, which is a fully integrated LMS with all the great productivity tools GAFE has to offer.
Your school will also have additional storage space (I have yet to find the limit), your own personal domain instead of Gmail.com, and access to all contacts within your school’s domain for easy communication and collaboration.
Their biggest selling point is the ease of collaboration with all users within your school’s domain.
Google does state that managing one domain is the best option; however, it recommends choosing a different domain for your teachers and your students, for example: S.Wolves.edu and T.Wolves.edu.
I feel that choosing separate teacher and student domains is bad advice. Administrators can set up contact sharing, but at my university we are still battling these obstacles.
Choosing separate domains has created several problems for me as an educator. For instance, I cannot create a Google Group with my students because Groups can only be created with people with the same domain.
When students share Docs, and select the anyone in my organization option, it leaves out the educators; again, because we are in a different domain.
Additionally, if you will be using Google Classroom all your files will be separate from your students and you will be required to create an additional student account to overcome this obstacle.
Long story short, one domain for your teachers and students is really the best option.
If you have already been using Google Drive, you know how wonderful it is. If your school isn’t using GAFE, perhaps you have some fodder here to help convince them.
Hopefully, these steps will help your school understand the ease of migrating to GAFE. If you are interested in more, stay tuned. We will offer a webinar with more information to help you. But my question to you is, What are you waiting for?