Lakeview School, a U5 school in Masterton is fast becoming a Google school. Here's how:
Last year we replaced our locally hosted Microsoft Outlook email system with school gmail accounts. Since this time staff haven't had a single problem with their email accounts. Previously a lot of our ICT support time was spent addressing a wide range of issues that meant staff couldn't access their emails. Additionally, being cloud hosted, email can be accessed from anywhere that an Internet connection is available; be it school, home, or Timbuktu!
Our school website (www.lakeview.school.nz) was created on Google Sites and is also hosted in the cloud. Updating it is ridiculously easy, meaning that it is as up to date as any school site that I have seen anywhere (take the time to check it out). Our student Tech Crew has taken on responsibility for maintaining the website.
Class pages have been created on Blogger. Teachers are very good at keeping them up to date with what is going on in their classrooms. The ease of using this product is highlighted by the fact that teachers who had struggled with ICT are now doing (at least) weekly updates.
This term all of our Year 5 - 8 students will be trained in the use of Google Docs as their primary word processing tool. This has been done by creating a Google account for every student within the Lakeview School Google Apps account. Students will have access to their work anywhere that there is an Internet connection, meaning parents and caregivers will be able to check out what their children are doing at school.
Student Google accounts also give students their own email address. This provides them with another means of communicating with their peers and teachers.
Our school calendar is now a Google Apps calendar. This can be accessed by our parents and caregivers via the school website.
I stumbled across Google Apps when I clicked on the 'more' option on the Google home page. From here I, an ICT novice, have become self taught in the wide range of applications within the Google Apps product base. Staff and students are now doing a lot of what our ICT service providers had done in the past, saving us potentially thousands of dollars.
Oh yeah, Google Apps for schools education edition is free. What more can I say about a great range of products from Google. I strongly believe that cloud computing is the way of the future, a future that we are embracing at Lakeview School.