Google has made it fairly clear that adoption of Google Apps at schools and colleges is vital to the growth of the productivity suite as a whole. The strategy makes sense; not only do educational institutions represent a huge market for Google Apps, but schools and colleges are where many people get trained, start relying on, and form brand allegiances to productivity apps. Today, Google is announcing that it has signed on two more states, Colorado and Iowa, to extend Google Apps for Education to the 3,000 schools across the two states.
The two states join Oregon, which was the first state to adopt Google Apps for Education in its schools. One of the advantages of “going” Google is the productivity suite’s attractive price point for public schools that are on a budget.
And Google is also rolling out a tool set for for teachers and educators to transition to the cloud-based productivity suite. Google is offering teachers and administrators a free online training center, a set of qualification exams for teachers, and a Certified Trainer and Partner program. The toolset is designed to offer a more self-service approach to adopting Google Apps, and includes in-depth resources on how to use Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Sites, as well as tests to certify proficiency in using the suite.
A month ago, Google announced that 8 million students, faculty and staff at educational institutions around the world are using Google Apps. Of course, Microsoft has also recently touted the adoption of its newly launched cloud-based version of Office by Kentucky’s school districts. According to Microsoft, 700,000 students, teachers and staff are using Microsoft’s cloud productivity tools in Kentucky public schools.
One of the challenges for Google is convincing educational institutions of the security in the cloud. But Google is offering incentives to help mitigate this challenge. Google is providing Google Message Security (GMS) at no charge to schools who sign up with Apps through the end of this year. GMS’ real-time technology filters spam and viruses, reducing downtime and on-site complexity.
We know Google has significant ambitions for Apps as a revenue stream; statewide school deals will only help build out this channel and perhaps eat away at Microsoft’s market share.