Google Apps Subs for Microsoft Office in New York Schools

The state of New York has chosen to substitute Google Apps for Microsoft Office for public K-12 schools.

Google is replacing Microsoft in a bid to provide collaboration software for more than 3.1 million students in New York state.

The NYIT (New York Institute of Technology) has agreed to use the Google Apps for Education for all K-12 schools through the state, Stanley Silverman, director of Technology Based Learning Systems and professor in NYIT's School of Education, told eWEEK in an interview Oct. 5.

Students in 697 public school districts Silverman oversees are using Google Apps' Gmail, Google Docs, Calendar and other collaboration tools, replacing the Microsoft Office suite in many instances. Silverman's team at the non-profit NYIT is creating a network of certified trainers to teach faculty and staff how to use Google Apps.

Silverman said he and his team chose Google Apps over the Office suite to save money from conducting maintenance, upgrades and hiring specialized IT management personnel by moving to the cloud computing environment Google espouses. Schools, he said, were paying $20 and in some cases $60 per student to use Microsoft Office.

In the cloud model, Google hosts the collaboration applications on its servers and provisions them to users over the Internet. Organizations using Google Apps needn't worry about maintaining servers and upgrading applications.

Google's education edition is free, which is hard for Microsoft, IBM, Cisco or other collaboration providers to challenge.

When asked whether he was concerned about moving to the cloud, where schools cede control of apps to Google, Silverman said that there are always questions about capacity, reliability and security regarding the cloud.

However, he said these are outweighed by the need for students to access their application data from home or other computers when they leave school.