For those of use using -- or considering using -- Google apps in the classroom, what do you think of this recent (6/30/08) opinion: "Anyone hoping that Google Apps can rival Microsoft’s products in the enterprise marketplace will have pause for thought after reading the astonishing testimony of development manager Sergey Solyanik, who has just gone back to Microsoft after a stint working at Google."

Blog here:
http://blogs.zdnet.com/SAAS/?p=545&tag=nl.e539

Tags: apps, google, microsoft, productivity, software

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Well, we get what we pay for. Anyone who's ever used any of the free software and had problems with it knows just how capricious the developers can be.
My pet hate is the crowd who sneer at pleas for help with sarcastic feedback about how *they* never have a problem because they have Unix, Mac, Firefox etc as if somehow their choice of software is morally or intellectually superior.
And the issues vary, depending on needs. Security is a primary issue for some corporate users, while access/cost/collaboration might be the major need for others.

A few links -

Google, Microsoft Online Apps Raise Security Questions

Microsoft Brings Exchange into the Cloud

Microsoft sets pricing, fee sharing for services

Create a Permeable Classroom

Freeing Education - Google Docs and Spreadsheets

Google Apps Added to the Curriculum

Like everything else with technology, this is a highly dynamic area. While all areas of computing and information creation/access move online, the issues of security, cost, accessibility, features, etc. will have to be addressed.
Wow, I found the arguments made to be completely irrational and more of a "rant" I would expect from a Microsoft employee (albeit one that worked at Google for a time).

I can’t write code for the sake of the technology alone — I need to know that the code is useful for others, and the only way to measure the usefulness is by the amount of money that the people are willing to part with to have access to my work.

Really? We can't measure Firefox's success because nobody is charging money for it? How about Apache in the server environment? The idea that you have to charge people to find out whether a product is successful or not is such a stretch that it blow my mind.

Some of the web properties are useful (some extremely useful - search), but most of them primarily help people waste time online (blogger, youtube, orkut, etc).

If you can't see the value in blogging platforms, social networks, and the most popular video sharing service, I question whether your opinion on value holds any kind of weight. Pretending these products are nothing more than time-wasters reminds me of someone so stubborn as to stick their fingers in the ears, close their eyes, and pretend they're still relevant. Live Search, Live Mail, Live Maps, seems like while the author is busy hating the products Google is focusing on, his company is busy trying to emulate the exact same thing with very very little success.

I appreciate that he puts in the caveat about his observations being about his personal experience and focus, but so many of his arguments are being held up by these misconstrued "truths" that it's hard to take the whole thing seriously. Google continues to upset the field by continually releasing products that change the way we interact with the web (or in some cases buying them). When they introduced Gmail, it was Microsoft and Yahoo who came late to the game saying "Oh ok, we can offer gigabytes for e-mail too!" but it was too late. The fact that Microsoft and others borrow so heavily on the successes of Google is indicator enough that Google is doing a lot of things right in the development of their software.

As far as classrooms using Google apps I can at least speak to higher education in saying there's a huge push to have Google, Microsoft, et al manage student e-mail. University of Virginia already gives out Gmail and Live mail addresses and my own university in Virginia is working with Microsoft to have them manage ours. Web-based apps have a place for sure in the corporate world and there will continue to be competition that fuels this.
Interesting article - thanks for posting.
Shouldn't schools have a "fear" giving up control of their data?
A very interesting article! Here's where I stand after reading it and after using it with high school students. Students need to learn MS Office - say in the middle school years (6th thru 8th). They also need to know about how to access and use Google Docs for portability reasons and for pricing issues as they head into high school. As students head off to college, many now realize that they can use Google Apps for many papers and assignments without having to drop serious money to own and use Word, Excel, etc. But Office is still the #1 office productivity software in the real world - it is robust far beyond what Google Apps offers and no one should be mislead about this. The differentiating focus is that Google Apps is about ease of use and just-in-time-access. They need experience with it as well. We should be teaching both to our students. Are they flexible enough? I've found that they are.
I am starting up Google Apps this year with grades 3-8. My first and second graders will still use Microsoft Office only, and my 3rd-8th graders will use both Apps and Office. They complement one another. I have a definite need for my students to be able to collaborate and access work from multiple locations. However, I think I like the option of taking an almost finished doc, for example, and bringing it into Word to put in headers/footers and set up margins the way I am more accustomed to doing. But the majority of the composing can take place in Docs where we can go back and observe the process -- and my students can see how well they collaborated versus letting one kid do most of the work. These two products serve different needs for me. I'm going to just ignore what the talking heads have to say about it.
I agree. Although I do tend to use more open-source, free products I agree that in most cases there are products that do a better job than others while those others do better at other things. I never use Macs and honestly don't like them (maybe because I'm so used to PCs) but I acknowledge that they are a lot better for certain things. You can't be bias just because you prefer or have a favorite product or brand. You don't HAVE to use one product : ) You're doing yourself a disservice if you are not open to all products.

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