02 July 2007

Google Apps - Part 2

Hi Folks,
This is a continuation from my previous Post below on Google Calendar to look in more detail at how Google Apps is being used by various educational institutions. The basic links are hypertext linked in the previous Post for you.
I have reviewed Arizona State University earlier. Here I would like to look at Northwestern University (Evanston, Chicago) and the only other N.Am. university listed - Lakehead University (Ontario, Canada). Then for a change in cultural spice, I will look at the Faculty of Management Studies, Delhi University (New Delhi, India) and the Victoria Junior College (Marine Vista, Singapore).
First however here is a screen grab of Google Apps-type personal calendar in use at a central Japan university (I mentioned this last time), that has been up and running for about two years based presumably on Microsoft Calendar or on an early Google Calendar beta.

Now to Northwestern University ; there are more than ten million hits for this university, so I selected only the first page links from - of course - Google Search ;-)
They have their own branded version of Google Apps, and they call their online Calendar 'Plan-It Purple', with each student having his or her own 'My Plan-It' (in a Chicago accent, I guess, this sounds like 'My planet' ?). This seems to be only for students since the official webpages such as that of the registrar still use html, and pdf (click here to view it)
Their music school at www.music.northwestern.edu may be using another version since it is out-of-date showing June, though it is July in Chicago. Here is a screen grab superimposed in time and place over the WestGa July 1 dated WebCT calendar ;-

Their law school at www.law.northwestern.edu uses Blackboard, and has what appears to be a non-Google Apps installed as their Course Management System at https://courses/northwestern.edu/webapps/login. This could have Google behind the scenes, and if so this suggests the possibility for universities with Blackboard or WebCT to use Google Apps. One of the clear advantages of accepting Google Apps is that they replace (somewhat slowly) piece-by-piece student-by-student the pre-existing links and put in gmail as the hub of the new communications systems. So the indications from my brief look at Northwestern are that the full Google Apps installation may be not yet completed. Along the same lines, having started in mid-April 2007, Arizona State University plans to complete the switch before the end of the 2007 academic year - fairly soon.
The only other North American university listed by google is Lakehead University. Their CIO (Chief Intelligent Officer ?) writes "Google's track record [i.e. their past] is consonant with Lakehead's philosophy of innovative thinking" - this sentence surely should make one wonder about the cart and the horse. Lakehead set their own criteria for a replacement system as a solution to their communications problems ;
o . . High availability
o . . Scale to grow with Lakehead's enrollment growth
o . . Be fully secure
o . . Have storage space similar to, if not better than, what is beng offered by free email service providers, and
o . . be able to offer email for life for Lakehead alumni
One may wonder why the last criterion was included : their website and that of Northwestern, as well as others I guess, all have links on their pages for giving $$$ to support the alma mater ; - having one's alumni locked in seems a good criterion in this light. They chose Google Apps from a range of similar systems, and deployed gmail, G Calendar, and G Talk (for G Chat and VoIP). These three seem to be the minimum set of Google Apps. They say they will save C$6~7 million by avoiding upcoming Microsoft Exchange upgrading or re-design costs, and maintenance recurrent costs of C$2~3 million/year. Arizona State University saved US$353,000/year on email costs for its 65,000 students.

The Faculty of Management Studies of Delhi University at www.fms.edu have installed Picasa photo uploading and sharing as well. And they still keep their old message boards, and forums. They have made the files uploading function through Google Talk into a searchable storage and retrieval resource. I didn't know this was included into Google Apps, so it might be FMS software or may be G Docs and Spreadsheets beta. Moreover they advocate students share calendars for their friends' birthdays and anniverseries [sic] - adding a degree of socialization into their business-oriented courses. At least their Google Calendar does work, and shows the correct date today as 02 July.

Lastly, please let me briefly look at Victoria Junior College (Marine Vista, Singapore) at www.vjc.moe.edu.sg, one of the best university preparatory colleges in Singapore. Their Calendar of Events has been temporarily suspended. They use Blackboard as does the Ministry of Education, Singapore (click here to view) . And notice Moodle also in the right column of sponsored adverts beneath Blackboard. Surprisingly (since blogger is NOT included into Google Apps) VJC has an acclaimed award-winning students' blog (http://cosiety.vjc.sg) that doesn't appear to be a google-blog. VJC also has an award-winning blog about Second Life VJC . I put this in red, because I think this is a worthwhile direction for educational institutions to move towards. Both blogs appear to be hosted by wordpress.com, not G Blogger. The Second Life VJC started in April 2007, and is a blog-based learning resource for the 'General Paper' for university entrance in Singapore to expose students to new ideas and concepts to learn to write something worthwhile in the General Paper examination. The blog is brilliant - far better than this one you are reading. Second Life VJC reports on their hopes to get into second-life, with their application still-pending for the new island for Singaporeans only, to be named 'Lion City'. While this is drifting away from Google Apps review, it does highlight the absence of Google Blogger integration with the gmail-hub.

Google Apps 2007 say "hundreds of schools" have converted to Google Apps (click here to read) and you can read about "many schools around the world", through a link there. In summary, these mainly extol the benefits of gmail and its spam filter - such has online life become that the quality of the trash basket is the quality of life !! (Please don't overlook the point in my previous posting that gmail does have sponsored adverts included into each email, and / but excludes those spam not paying $ to google.)

At Northwestern, it was the students who told the university to implement Google Apps so the university can focus on education while outsourcing the communication services to google. It does say a lot about education when the students complain about the quality of communication by the university. That said, I have first heard this new word "calendaring' from Arizona State University. Is this a gerund from the verb 'to calendar' ?

Should I review the rival Windows Calendar here ???
It comes free inside the new 2007 Microsoft Office suite, and fully integrates with Windows Vista. There are 123,000,000 hits on a google search !!! on 'microsoft calendar'. Google are not to be undone though and introduce emigration switchover from Microsoft's calendar to its own (but not vice-versa away from Google) similar to its functioning export into gmail. Please see this screen grab, it is worthwhile inserting here
or click here to go to the live page , and notice we can put Google Calendar into our own website independently of Google Apps, and moreover add weather forecasting into Google Calendar.

More on Second Life later, and on Windows Calendar, and ...
All Best Wishes
sleepy Paul

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