The Case for Free

Have yogoogleappsforedu ever been approached by someone with that “too good to be true” offer? Most people will probably answer this question with a resounding “Yes!”.  The dream vacation where half of your time is spent with sales people trying to sell you property on a distant island. The free merchandise that you only have to pay shipping on. Or my personal favorite, a free activity tracking device that requires an exorbitant monthly subscription fee I was not expecting. It’s not surprising that we are skeptical of free offers that come our way. “You get what you pay for” is the mantra ingrained in most people’s minds. Except for those few who don’t mind sitting in a half day sales meeting in return for that “free” Caribbean get-away, most of us tend to lean toward satisfaction guaranteed. In recent years, trends in education have been shifting toward the use of free tools to help engage our students.

Many Internet-based, free tools promise to increase student engagement and improve teaching and learning in the classroom. We get excited when we find something new and are eager to share. Then comes the myriad of let downs. You may only use it once, then you must pay. It’s free for the teacher, but there’s a per student fee. Streaming of ads, some inappropriate, that distract students from the task at hand. We have lost faith in free and with good reason.

Enter Google Apps for Education, an entire suite of integrated tools that can be used not only to increase student engagement, but also to improve productivity in schools at all levels. Unlimited space, no ads, secure, reliable service, and free to K-16 schools. Yes. Free. School Districts, as well as Colleges and Universities are jumping on the Google train and not looking back. The list includes some of our Nation’s top ranked colleges and universities, according to U. S. News & World Report. And it is growing.

If we are preparing our students for college and beyond, we also cannot ignore the fact that Google’s list of customers includes the U. S. Federal Government, as well as businesses worldwide. Sound interesting? It’s free so it’s a no-brainer. Or is it? We can learn from each other’s experiences by sharing with each other. I will be sharing my own school’s Google Journey at this year’s Leading the Future Conference sponsored by MassCue and EdTechTeacher. Hope to see you there. I promise not to try to sell you any swamp land in Florida. For more information visit: http://leadingfuturelearning.org/
About the Author : Susan Kiley is a Technology Coordinator and Authorized Google for Education Trainer. In addition to her role as the Technology Coordinator for her school, Susan provides professional development to staff and teaches Applied Technologies to help desk students. She also provides Google Apps for Education training, upon request. For more information visit her website: www.susankileyile.wordpress.com

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