A reader of one of my last posts, "Google Presentations…one more step in the right direction", did not share my enthusiasm for Google Apps:
"More Google spyware One more way for Google to build their database about you. Or, you could just use Google for search, and keep their database at that!"
I have to say, however, that Google can have my data. Obviously I don't search for too many sites I wouldn't want anyone knowing about on Google or store my most private documents on Google docs. I'm not as stupid as some of my readers would like to believe. However, as long as Google can keep collecting information and turning it into cashflow, then they'll keep pushing the envelope of Web 2.0 functionality. I'm a Gmail addict and use Google docs and spreadsheets to share documentation and information with several other "Google-enabled" students. All for the mere price of some data about my searches. I'm just a poor teacher, but that's a price I'm certainly willing to pay.
For those of us in education, Google currently provides a host of services for free tied to your existing domain (Google Apps for your Domain) allowing you to leverage the power of Gmail, Google Talk, Calendar, Docs, and Spreadsheets for your users. Better yet, the same technology labeled as spyware also allows us to track electronic communications within our school as recent court cases have dictated we should.
The educational version of Google Apps also dispenses with text ads for students, allowing students to have school-sanctioned (and controlled), ad-free email and collaboration tools. While we have yet to migrate away from our existing email provider (currently our ISP) since the introduction of one more IT project this year would probably drive me over the edge, Google Apps provides a really attractive suite of communication applications in familiar and intuitive ways. Anyone who's had experience with Google Apps, please feel free to burst my bubble below or let us know if it lives up to the rosy picture painted on Google.com.