Friday, 8 March 2013

Pay up and look cheerful?

I'm not one to moan (much) but I'm not very pleased with Google at the moment. I don't suppose that comment is likely to shake the mighty G. to its foundations, but it would be good if someone there listened.
I suspect the fact that Google Apps for Education was (and is) offered for free, probably put the squeeze on many commercial providers of VLE/Learning Platforms - but the financial pressure most schools are under means they won't have shed many tears. As a relatively long-term user (3 years) I've found GApps a powerful, flexible and simple tool to use and currently build my entire Creative Media program round (and with) it. Naturally enough Google recommends the use of the Chrome browser. Over half-term our technicians succumbed to installing Chrome, only for Chrome to let us down badly this week by refusing students access to their Start Page (mission control) and  Sites (eportfolios).
If, as seems likely, a Chrome update is to blame, and if (as one of my contacts says) Google are always playing fast and loose with Google Apps for Education,  it would be good if they were aware of the problems they have caused for children and their teachers.
Why do Google provide their extraordinary range of apps free and ad-free to education? It is possible from a genuine sense of corporate altruism. There is also possibly the desire to hook 'em while they're young. Neither of these ends is helped by this week's events.
Microsoft offer Office 365, but this is a paid-for solution. But it's tough to find out a per student cost and besides since there's no try-before-you-buy it's difficult to know whether 365 will do the job I need it to do, any better than GApps. Presumably as a paid-for solution they would offer more technical support. All of which begs the question, is it time to pay up and look cheerful?

Update 07/04/2013:
Turns out the Chrome update was a co-incidence. Our beloved Service providers filtering appears to be to blame. As I've said before (once or twice) FFFFFiltering!