Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Google Apps for Schools

There are so many different applications that Google now provides. And now you can tie a few of those to your own domain. We used them at the end of an online class here at ESU 10. It was pretty successful. I'll highlight a few of them today.

Domain Control Panel allows you to set up your domain to use the tools below. You can setup your own accounts, passwords, etc. You also manage the settings for each of the services to best fit the needs of your district.

Start Page is a service that allows you to set up a dashboard that is specific to each individual that has an account on your domain. The cool part about this is it is completely customizable by the administrator of the domain. You can lock in certain sections and have parts that are editable by the account holder.

Gmail is a revolutionary new web based mail application. It is built on the foundation of "conversations" or what you might know as threads. It also uses the Google search piece so it is much easier to find messages you may have archived. I really like the Labels feature which is sort of like sorting your messages in folders but better. Check out an overview.

Google Talk is an instant messenger that can be either a domain only service or one that is shared to the outside world.

Docs and Spreadsheets is a wonderful tool that allows for team collaboration. Students or teachers can share documents together and add their knowledge to the project. The documents can be share collaboratively so that others can edit the file or they can be shared as view only so it can be shared with anyone. In our experience here at ESU 10, it has become an indispensable tool for meetings and other collaborative events.

Calendar is a pretty straight forward calendar application that has powerful sharing features. I like the option to discuss events within the calendar. I also like to embed the month view calendar into other web pages. Very nice.

Lastly, Page Creator is the web page application for the domain. This is a nice application and fairly simple to use. The downside that I see at this point is that there is not an application for each account within in your domain. The web pages are shared with all the accounts and so anyone can make changes. I look forward to seeing some better collaborative controls in terms of what can edit what.

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