The switch to Google Apps has allowed teachers and tech staff to divert time they used to spend futzing with hardware and software problems, and direct that time to teaching and learning.
The Maine Township High School District was behind the average school district in instructional technology. The schools were using a slow, text-based email system and an outdated calendar application lacking essential features. Although the network infrastructure was secure, there was not enough bandwidth. Teachers, students, parents, and board members also wanted to foster a system of collaboration within the schools.
After assessing technology needs, the district hoped to find a system with HTML support, improved storage limits, and intuitive use. The desire for a cloud-based solution led them to Google Apps for Education, which was free and included a range of tools for document creation, sharing, and publishing. Maine Township migrated its students over a few days; the success was immediate, with an outpouring of shared ideas and teaching methods across the district. Using the full range of Google Apps for Education tools to enrich learning and teacher innovation, the schools have created a dynamic, collaborative culture. Students enjoy access to their work from school, home, or other places they work--thus taking learning beyond the classroom walls. And teachers can distribute notes online, make assignments, and easily track the participation of workgroups to build curriculum. The system has been cost-effective as well: $35,000 (budgeted originally for student email) was reallocated toward a new email archiving system.