Oregon schools adopt Google Apps to save cash, expand ed-tech offerings

Oregon parents will have to sign a new consent form before their children use Google Apps.
Oregon parents will have to sign a new consent form before their children use Google Apps.

Oregon’s 540,000 public school students will be able to get teacher feedback on classroom projects in real time and create web sites and online videos, after the state school system announced April 28 that it will be the first to use Google Apps for Education in K-12 schools statewide.

Moving to the free Google Apps for Education – a host of school-friendly features the internet giant has pushed in recent months – will save the state $1.5 million in IT costs because the service is hosted entirely on the web, with no hardware, software, or technology upkeep involved, Oregon Schools Superintendent Susan Castillo said.

Oregon’s districts will have use of Google’s services for up to five years in this landmark education technology deal. The Oregon Department of Education will review an “additional multiyear extension” during the fourth year of the agreement, according to the agreement details. Participating school districts will have to distribute new parental consent forms for any student who wants to use the Google applications.…Read More

Syllabus digitization takes hold on college campuses

Students can see an updated online syllabus seconds after a professor makes an adjustment.
Students can see an updated online syllabus seconds after a professor makes an adjustment.

College students’ online calendars immediately can reflect any changes to their class schedule, test date, or homework due date, thanks to web-based course syllabi that alerts class members any time a professor tweaks a lesson plan.

Online syllabi features have been available for years on popular course management systems such as industry giant Blackboard, but four campuses have turned to an internet syllabus service called Concourse that allows for customization—meaning faculty can make certain parts of the document visible to different sections of the same course. This is a useful tool for faculty who teach courses with undergraduate and graduate students who will have different assignments.

Students can sync Concourse syllabi with web-based calendar applications such as Microsoft Outlook and Google Calendar, and faculty members can access course syllabi without building a separate web site for each class.…Read More