Best Cloud Productivity Tools 2018
Office 365 vs G Suite For Education
As many schools consider the move to the cloud, they are faced with the dilemma of choosing which productivity tool is best for their institution. The market’s leading cloud computing platforms for education are Office 365 and G Suite for Education which both have similarities but marked differences. If you’re new to cloud computing and don’t quite understand the point of it, or you would like more clarification, we have provided a definition of cloud computing below for you. So, let’s get started!
As per definition: “Cloud computing is an information technology (IT) paradigm that enables ubiquitous access to shared pools of configurable system resources and higher-level services that can be rapidly provisioned with minimal management effort, often over the Internet”. In easier terms Cloud Computing is using a network of remote servers hosted on the internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer. In fact, you are probably using cloud computing right now! “If you use an online service to send emails, edit documents, watch films or TV, listen to music, play games, or store pictures and other files”, then you are using cloud computing.
Cloud computing is changing the way schools operate, moving away from locally installed tools and resources and utilising the power of the internet. Not only can the cloud help schools to deliver and manage lessons, it can also help to manage your infrastructure, provide secure off-site back up and enable you to communicate and collaborate like never before.
As cloud storage and backup have become a bigger part of the ICT landscape in schools, these are some of the things to keep in mind when looking for cloud computing that will work for your school:
- Scalability – storage and backup capacity should grow with any school’s requirements without having to make any major changes
- Flexibility – it should be able to accommodate users running various operating systems and devices such as desktops, notebooks and servers alike
- Centralised management – administration should be policy-based with various levels of administration rights
- Simplicity of use – managing and accessing school’s data should never be an unnecessary drain on man-hours and learning time
- Cost – with the cost of buying hardware and software, setting up, running on-site data centres, the servers themselves, the electricity for power and cooling off, as well as the IT experts used to run, cloud computing eliminates all of that meaning you’ll have more time and money for more important thing at your school.
The main choices are not whether you opt for Google or Microsoft, but how you get beyond the core tools that simply focus around communication and productivity. Both Microsoft and Google offer some of the best collaboration tools out there, the main ones being Microsoft Teams and Google Classroom. Both make it very easy for a teacher to create a space that they can share with students that is more akin to Facebook and LinkedIn than the usual VLE-style spaces that schools have gotten used to. In both Microsoft Teams and Google Classroom teachers can set assignments, store curriculum resources and in the case of Google Classroom, even include parents in the process. In the core productivity apps of Word in Microsoft and Docs in G Suite, word processing is pretty much the same with the biggest differences being some great new features. To a highlight a few; Voice Typing in Google Docs is brilliant for supporting students with EAL and SEND as is the Immersive Reader in Word Online which makes chunks of text instantly more accessible for learners with the focussed scrolling and reading aloud features.
Both tools integrate structured web searches within the documents, removing the need for students to search online via Google or Bing. This removes a huge distraction often faced by teachers and students. Collectively, these great features showcase the power of being in the cloud and offer a real step up from the desktop productivity tools we’ve been using for decades.
It is impossible to talk about the potential of Office 365 for teaching and learning, without mentioning Sway. Sway is arguably the best tool since PowerPoint. Sway uses the power of the web and responsive design to curate content in seconds. Simply enter a topic and Sway will automatically create a horizontal or vertical presentation with embedded video and images and further ideas on how you can extend your understanding of the topic. The Sway can then be shared with students, perfect for creating flipped learning content and engaging learners in new and highly visual ways. Many schools have already begun making good use of Sway by using the platform to create weekly newsletters that are sent directly to parents or shared on social media to keep parents updated on their kids. If your school hasn’t embraced Sway in some way, it may be time!
The recent addition of Quizzing to Google Forms makes it a favourite in G Suite. Teachers can now create self-marking tests and quizzes with all the results collated instantly into a Google Sheet and easy to interpret charts and graphs. Google Forms really does make educating much simpler than quizzes and tests on paper.
Please find more about Google Forms: 6 ways Quizzes in Google Forms are getting smarter!
So, the question isn’t which do you go for. Each will lend itself better to your specific circumstances. For example, if you are thinking about Chromebooks, you might opt for G Suite due to simplicity, although Office 365 will work just fine on a Chromebook as well. G Suite’s products offer simplicity, which can be ideal for schools that do not require the endless features offered by Microsoft programs. In fact, some Microsoft products like Word can seem daunting and overcomplicated due to its countless features. However, most of us will be used to Microsoft’s Office and will prefer the familiarity of it over G Suite, which can very well be a deciding factor as most of us already know how to use Microsoft products, meaning the transition will not be as daunting. If you value the “Office” experience you are used to and like the scale of apps offered by Microsoft, then opt for Office 365. Each will play a significant role in moving your school to a new echelon.
Please find below the top 10 expert reasons to use both that will help you with making decisions on which it’s the best option for your needs:
TOP 10 EXPERT REASONS TO USE OFFICE 365 FOR EDUCATION
TOP 10 EXPERT REASONS TO USE GOOGLE SUITE FOR EDUCATION
If you are still undecided and would like further information on which would work best for your school and your devices, get in touch with us and a qualified education technology expert will help guide you.
Would you prefer to speak with one of our EdTech Specialists direct?
CALL US TODAY ON
0845 37 000 38