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TIES 2009: Google Apps in Education: Osseo's Model

I decided to sit in on my new boss, Steve Beutner's presentation on the implementation of Google Apps that Osseo Area Schools Implemented this fall. He began sharing the Common Craft video on Google Apps.

Initially, they thought that Gmail would be the most important tool, but in actuality, the productivity applications of Word Processing, Spreadsheets, Presentations, and Forms have been more popular.
You can turn on certain apps, but they are turned on for all users. You can't limit groups to certain applications. It's all or nothing.
Just last week, Google Groups was added to the application suite along with Google Mobile and Postini monitoring and managing services. This is used to quarantine e-mail and manage it effectively.
They implemented this for students grades 6 and up, as it would have cost $490,000/year for them to provide just cloud e-mail. Google does it for free! Not only that, but they provide 7 GB of storage for staff and students.
"Ultimately, it's for the kids!" Students have the ability to continue to work anywhere they can access the Internet. Teachers and students are collaborating on group projects all along the way. There is no cost for software for students. "Automatically backed up, so 'the dog' can't eat their homework."
Beutner provided tips on what to do before you begin including questions to be answered:
  • Decide your audience? Initially, they were just going to provide student e-mail. They narrowed down too closely, and decided to include all staff as well. Now front office staff are using it for collaboration and productivity as well.
  • What services will you offer? They turned on the contact list for student e-mail, so that teachers could create groups for collaboration. They do have the IM feature turned off, but have provided a tool for IM. They are currently encouraging other options rather than sites, so that is turned off.
  • How is it going to be supported? No cost now for Postini, but when will it be charged for? Google says that their current plan is to keep it free for educational institutions.
  • How do you get people in?
  • How do you train end users? They have help desk staff available for triage.
  • How do you market it? They call it OsseoApps, to differentiate it with gmail. They want staff and students using OsseoApps, as opposed to regular gmail.
  • How does this effect the organization policies?
  • What will your username convention be? What privacy settings will be in place? They did the same type of model we did, to keep the last name private.
  • They started by saying students couldn't send outside the district, but now have changed it because there are policies in place to deal with AUP violations.
Buettner later discussed methods of managing users. For organizations under 500, a CSV file is an option. For organizations larger, using the Google Directory Sync is the better option. Unfortunately, it's complicated, can erase accounts, it's open source-it can change often, you may need to modify the directory! (We have found this too!) Ultimately, they moved to a Single Sign-On approach through Moodle.
They used Moodle-Google Apps Integration
Moodle Users are automatically created in Google Apps.
The Gmail block in Moodle is how students access e-mail.

To implement, they created for trainings in Moodle along with Face to Face training.
They used project management templates to complete the process.


Jeff Krause said…
Mike, I think you're going to find EPS teachers will resist moving from MSOffice products because it requires training and conversion of their material. I know Google apps easily converts MS Word, Excel, etc., but this extra step teachers need to do will cause wailing and gnashing of teeth - especially since training (therefore time) is needed.
Unknown said…
Training will definitely need to be part of the process. Initially, we'll be rolling things out on a voluntary basis.

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