Friday, December 20, 2013

Google Apps for Edu: Learning the Ropes - guest post

By: Rob May, CEO, Backupify

More and more schools today are moving their data to the cloud, and more specifically to Google Apps. In the past two years, there has been a 100 percent increase in the number of students using Google Apps for Education – with 72 of the top 100 Universities (based on US News & World Report) using Google Apps and saving upwards of $1.5M annually.

The shift to this new solution is exciting but can be stressful if participants are not sure how exactly to use the platform. Google Apps for Edu is a powerful application that, like many other technologies and workflows, must start with basic training. How do you make sure your school is ready to go? Follow these steps:

1. Gain support from school administration: Like any new technology, the key for rapid adoption is to get major stakeholders behind the platform. Before spreading the word on Google Apps to teachers and students, provide the administration with an informational training session. If they understand how to use it, see its value and begin leveraging the service for internal documents, the rest of the staff will be more likely to adopt it quickly.

2. Get feedback and revise your training accordingly: After the first round of administration training, ask participants what they thought of the experience. Gauge which tactics worked and modify those that did not. For example, if participants found you spent too long on Gmail but not enough time on Google Drive, consider amending the schedule for the next round of training accordingly.

3. Assemble Google App Guides: Select individuals within the school to be the "go-to-resources" on all things Google. This group should get advanced training and can actually become Google Apps certified. Now they can easily organize and lead training sessions for other teachers and students.

4. Visit the Google Learning Center early and often: The Google Learning Center provides a wealth of tools for both those just getting started in Google Apps and those that are experts on the platform. The site breaks down each app and provides detailed training videos for users to watch. Google also puts on conventions throughout the year to share the latest updates on the platform. Check out the list of Google in Education Global Summits and see when sessions are going on near you.

5. Back up so nothing gets lost in the shuffle: The Google Apps service provides limited backup for all the documents stored within it. . Bring in a third party solution to ensure a secure, second copy of all information is always readily available. With new users on the platform, there's likely to be user error that could put vital data at risk.

There are several resources available for those who are implementing Google Apps. One is our newest eBook, “Mastering Google for the Classroom.” Google is constantly updating the Google Apps platform and there is always more to learn. Getting your school on Google Apps is the first step. As you continue to use the platform for every day learning, be sure to keep up with the latest it has to offer. This will not only ensure you are taking full advantage of what Google has to offer, but it also will guarantee your Google Apps experience is a success.



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