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The Benefits of Google for Education in Higher Ed

Google for Education tools can foster collaboration and benefit learning on campus
University Business, January 2015

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College in North Carolina has undertaken an ambitious technology strategy across the institution to simplify the student experience, increase access to technology for students regardless of socioeconomic status and enable access to multiple tools that students will use later in the workforce. Key to these initiatives has been implementing Google Apps for Education as part of an overall cloud strategy. In this web seminar, the CIO of Rowan-Cabarrus shared how this strategy has simplified staff development, created a paperless culture and enabled new levels of student collaboration.

Devin Regis
Education Team
Google

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Here on the Google Apps for Education team we believe that open technology is the key to improving education. Technology can help transform education, but let’s not forget that the real change requires people.

We have over 40 million students, faculty, and staff who use our Google Apps for Education platform. One in five devices shipped to U.S. students this year was a Chromebook built to access the Google platform. And over 70 of the top 100 universities in the U.S. have gone Google, including seven of the eight Ivy Leagues.

Going Google in education is about four things:

1) Empowerment: being able to discover a world of infinite resources and change the role of the teacher from simply disseminating information to coaching and supporting students as they explore the information accessible to them to solve real-world problems.

2) Choice: use the right device anytime, anywhere. We want professors and students to use the right device, whether it’s a laptop, tablet, phone or desktop, regardless of platform and manufacturer, in school, at home or on-the-go.

3) Teamwork: working together in real time. Using Google’s collaborative productivity suite is often cited by educators as the most profound change in the way they teach and the way students learn. Collaboration fosters teamwork, problem-solving and organization—key skills for the modern world.

4) Scale: affordable and easy to manage. Device and content management are equally important to keep the total cost of ownership low and to allow IT teams to efficiently and effectively manage all the different elements, from network to applications to devices.

We offer schools a free suite of services called Google Apps for Education. These apps include Gmail as your email service provider and things like Google Docs, Spreadsheets and Presentations for content creation. We recently announced the new Drive for Education within Google Apps for Education, along with Vault for Education included at no cost. Unlimited storage rolled out at the end of October—all the storage you could ever need, at no cost.

There are no ads in Google Apps for Education services—your data is not being scanned for advertisements, and we have no plans to change this in the future. Additionally, in K12 schools using Google Apps for Education, users do not see ads when they use Google search.

Chromebooks are web-based computers that are great for schools because they are easy to use, easy to manage, easy to customize and easy to scale. We’ve designed Chromebooks to be practically invisible in the classroom and to enable learning and connecting. Students simply open the lid, sign up, and are up and running in under eight seconds. We offer a range of devices suited for the classroom from six major OEM providers: Lenovo, Toshiba, Asus, Dell, HP, Samsung and Acer. Their hardware specs vary in terms of screen size, ports, weight and so on, but all of them are running the Chrome operating system and all of them are managed through your Google Apps for Education account.

The admin console is easy to set up and manage, with personalization of devices and touchless deployment. You organize and manage your device settings, and also set up policies for your domain, all from one webpage.

So what does it mean for schools to use Google tools? We asked and people told us it’s about more than technology. It’s about adopting a culture that extends beyond the classroom walls, and sparks a of professors and students curiosity and working together.

Ken Ingle
CIO
Rowan-Cabarrus Community College

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College is a relatively large community college located just outside of Charlotte, N.C. We have five campuses located across two counties, but online is quickly becoming our largest presence. Many of our 22,000 students never visit any of our campuses. That’s something that we support, but it definitely presents additional challenges. Relatively recently we’ve made the move to Google Apps for Education.

We have a very wide demographic with students as well. We have students of all ages, from high school students doing early college programs to students who have long been retired doing personal enrichment courses. We also have students who range in socioeconomic status. We have a number of nontraditional students—students who work full-time trying to do something different with their life. This diversity creates some unique challenges for us, because not all our students can afford to purchase a laptop.

That’s where the Google story starts for us; we wanted to see how we can make access to technology easier for our students. We developed a series of tenets that drive any technology decision we make for our students. We want our tools to be as personalized as possible, and linked to location. We want to understand not just who our students are, but where they are. If they are on one of our campuses and close to our payment center, then we should understand that so we can point them in the right direction to access different services and tools available there. If they are in one of our classrooms, how do we deliver the right technology based on their device? And, we want everything to be affordable.

Mobile is important to us. With Google Apps we found strong mobile versions of Docs, Spreadsheets, Google Drive, and Presentations, with each functioning across multiple platforms. We also wanted to reduce the IT support burden, and Google has definitely done that. Then we started looking beyond the obvious, beyond the things that people are familiar with, such as Gmail or the real-time collaboration with Drive. What are the other reasons that Google is the right answer for Rowan-Cabarrus?

One of the biggest is the community that is built around Google Apps. I’ve called any number of institutions throughout the country that use Google Apps to ask them questions—how to tie a tool together, how to do a student integration, etc. Reaching out to that community is a huge advantage.

We’ve seen an extraordinary reduction in IT support costs. The number of calls to our help desk related to our productivity tools, document collaboration and document editing have reduced tremendously since we’ve implemented Google Apps. We’re also not having to do as much training as in the past.

We’ve started rolling out Google Hangouts in our classrooms, and we’re finding that our instructors and students are asking us to turn on more features. They are finding tools online that plug into Google Apps. We’re seeing the organic growth of the toolset taking over any training that we would provide. Our students and instructors tell each other how to further utilize the tools and how to connect and collaborate.

Bar none, the most common feedback we receive is that the real-time collaboration is what makes the difference. It’s just so easy not having 50 versions of things floating around. It’s been a huge success for us.

To watch this web seminar in its entirety, please go to www.universitybusiness.com/ws112014

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