Thursday, October 19, 2006

Google Apps for Education

At last week's EDUCAUSE meeting, I went to Google's rollout of their new services for campuses, aka Google Apps for Education. Adrian Sannier from Arizona State was there to talk about their well-publicized switch to gmail for students, plus integrated calendar, forthcoming spreadsheet, etc.

The rationale at ASU goes something like this:
- services like email are now commodities, and many students are already using the commodity versions
- there is no way the campus can match Google's service level (2GB allocation, for example) & ongoing R&D
- it is free (by virtue of Google's business model), so the resources otherwise required to maintain this service can be dedicated elsewhere.

In the Q&A that followed, it was perhaps ironic that the chief concern about privacy was the need to maintain unmarked admin access to user accounts for investigation of security incidents & academic violations. Google's standard privacy policy doesn't permit this without subpoena, so they are allowing colleges to overlay a clickthrough user agreement.

Google & Blackboard have also announced a new partnership featuring
a) integration of Google Scholar search directly from courses within Bb, and
b) integration of Google OneBox (enterprise) searches of course catalogs, organization catalogs, and learning object repositories.


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