We are an 1:1 lap top school. Our students don't have a school email account and they can't save on the server. We are looking for the best "cloud" option. I have been reading many things on Google apps for education and Window Live and now, I'm a bit confused!
What is your opinion ? Are you using one or the other at your school ?
We decided on Google Apps this summer and have been using it all year in grades 5-12. It has been very successful. Docs are easily the most used app in our school. We are also 1:1 and the students use collaborative writing and file sharing all of the time. In fact, I thought we would use it mainly for file sharing but it turns out that collaborative work has been more important. In a lot of ways, it can change the way you teach.
My high school history students take lecture and reading notes collaborative. They share a single document and create notes on the fly. They end up collaborating at home as much as they do at school.
We decided on Google over Microsoft for a few main reasons:
1) At the time, docs (Word Processing, Spreadsheet, Presentation) were superior on Google. The Microsoft solution was buggy and awkward. I am not sure if that is still the case.
2) The Google solution seemed to work better in a broader range of browsers/operating systems. We feared that Microsoft's solution would push us towards favoring Internet Explorer and MS Office. Our 1:1 implementation is done through a laptop requirement. We do not supply the laptops or software. So we have a very mixed environment with about 60% Macs and a mix of Office, Apple iWork, OpenOffice. A good portion of our students now use Google Docs as their primary office suite.
All of our students have a school supplied email/google apps account. We also have a WordPress multisite installation and each student and teacher have their own WordPress blog. We use the blogs instead of Google Sites.
we're a 1-1 school and we chose to migrate from FirstClass to Google Apps two years ago because we wanted our students to have access to the best collaboration and communication software available...we also wanted to give our students access to a platform that is ever evolving with new features that are useful to young scholars. We have not been disappointed in the least. In two years we've seen the addition of Groups, access to 62 other google services like Reader/iGoogle/Blogger, incredible mobile access, etc. We also like that Google's architecture is incredibly open, which allows our community members to access the network from a variety of operating systems and computer form factors (we actually implemented a 1-1 model that is hardware, OS and software agnostic).
Here is a link to a document that compares the features of MS Live and Google Apps Education Edition-this was created by many educators around the globe who were interested in a comparative feature analysis.