For schools, Google holds a number of advantages over other online programs. I'd like to focus on one aspect in particular. Google's products all play well together. Examples are listed below.
Docs and Blogger- Blogger is a pretty good blogging platform. I can get all of the basic functionality that I expect including the ability to change fonts, add images and link to other websites. It’s a pretty limited word processor, though. Notice that I’m able to adjust the left margin of the lower portion of this paragraph. Blogger doesn’t allow me to do that, so I go over to Google Docs to write and edit my work. Then I simply cut and paste. Since these are both Google products, the formatting is perfectly preserved.
Docs and Calendar- Google Calendar is a wonderful product which allows you to easily record and share events online. One of the great features of Calendar is that you can attach any file stored in your Docs to an event. This integration makes the entire process of lesson planning effortless. Plans are easy to produce since they are laid out visually. Students can see the events you allow them to see and be able to access attached study guides. Teachers can collaborate on planning and restrict the public from accessing any sensitive events or files. Click here to read more.
Gmail, Chat, Google plus and Docs- Google’s email platform is top of the line. Space is almost unlimited (I have over 15,000 emails and only use 29% of my allotted space) and its search ability is unmatched. It also works beautifully with Google’s other social products. For schools with Google apps, this means that you’d be able to send instant messages to colleagues and administration to ask for assistance or to verify a student’s excuse for coming in late. In addition, you have the option of storing any and all email attachments in your Docs account. You can even adjust Gmail’s search preferences so that it will look through your Docs as well as your emails.
Openclass and everything else- Openclass is a learning management system (LMS) produced by Google and Pearson. The platform is very similar to products like Blackboard and Moodle. Accounts are free and since it is all online, there are not upkeep costs. One of the big advantages here, however, is the single log-in. After logging in once, students have access to Gmail, Docs, Calendar and Youtube as well as being able to access any online course material.
I know that there are dozens of great online products for schools to choose from. Some of these products are better for certain faculty than Google. However, given all of the great ways Google’s products work together, it makes sense to look closely before going with something else.