This year the NSWDEC has opened up both Office 365 and Google Apps for Education, with both of these being a great Success So far. But in the classroom they have similar functions except for a number of Key features each package has up its sleeve.
Lets look at Microsoft Office365 first.
The classroom loves Office and its Comforting look and enduring functionality. Teachers love Office because of the same reasons.
But there have been some issues with various versions and how they have moved a few features around, etc. But this has been eliminated by Office 365 as it is administered through the browser and everyone has the same view. Massive bonus for teaching Office skills, especially when projecting onto the board for delivery. Also, if you are keen on the idea of the paperless classroom, the sharing function is easy to use and has excellent collaboration opportunities covered (shared notebooks, etc).
The collaboration ability of Office 365 is simple to use for any level of ability. It is very easy to set up a share with your classes (I’ve set one up for each of my classes) and sub folders are also easy to add.
If you are a BYOD school, Office 365 completes the puzzle of sharing resources, providing feedback and getting active collaboration happening.
In the same vein, Google Apps for Education has a comprehensive suite of products that cater for the 21st Century Learning environment with a few differences as well as an ace in the hole – Google Classroom.
Google Apps has all the regular options – an easy to use Office substitute (Word, Excel and PowerPoint all covered), easy to use layout and some extra products such as an image organiser, a website builder and a nice notes app called Google Keep. And if you have an Android phone, your in luck as it all syncs nicely.
But the key difference between the two major players is Google Classroom. I here you say that Office 365 has got SharePoint and Mosaic and I hear you. But Classroom takes it up a level with its ease of use and nice helpful interface, which is great for late adopters.
Classroom is used to promote the concepts of Flipped classroom, 21st Century Learning and learning any time anywhere. If you have used Moodle before you will pick up Classroom very quickly and so will the students. Set reading lists, give a quiz or set up a forum – it’s all there and moderated by you the teacher.
We are using both of these suites as, for our Campus, they complement each other with our programs and what each faculty wants to do with the students. We also are hoping that the DEC will keep both suites and not just choose one. Here’s hoping!