Our Willard Google Apps is basically just the normal Google products with a black W logo on it. Benefit: We can create the teacher and student accounts. That is the main reason we went with this. (When we started the year and had a class of students registering for Google Docs, it wanted their cell phone numbers to verify their accounts.) In addition to Docs, GA includes other tools like Sites, Calendar, etc. They all work just like the normal Google products. Having the GApps also adds a sharing option of limiting the sharing to only Willard Google Apps users.
At the High School, we are using GA Docs to facilitate paperless (ok, less paper) classrooms. Teachers are “passing out” assignments by sharing files. Students are turning in assignments by sharing them with their teachers. Students are sharing documents with classmates for peer editing, and using the comment feature. Teaches are using the Revision History to monitor students’ progress through rough draft to polished publication. Students are accessing their files outside of school to work. Students are “moving” files from personal stations to school via GA, since now you can upload nearly any file to your account. I use GA Docs with teachers during the planning process to collaborate and share ideas.
Teachers and students are using GA Presentations tool to create slideshows, in place of PowerPoint, because they can access it anywhere, easily share and collaborate. The teachers like having one place to go to access all the students’ shows, as opposed to navigating the various students’ folders on the server.
I’ve also used the GA Sites to throw up a quick webpage for a class. I can then easily share that site with the teacher and he/she can take ownership and continue to use it, or not.
Some of the kids have started using the GA Calendar of their own accord. This is something we may use more of in the future for staff communication. The calendar we currently have in SISK12 works well to communicate with students and parents.
GA does not have Google Reader, which I sooo wish that it did. (We are going to try that with the Journalism classes.) We haven’t activated the GA email module, but are in discussions. I just activated the Contacts module, that’s one that I missed earlier. I think Contacts will be useful to students and teachers when sharing and collaborating. I doubt that we will ever activate the Chat and Video modules.