With training help from New York state teacher centers and BOCES, New York Institute of Technology announced an initiative to make Google Apps for Education available to K-12 school districts throughout the state.
Free to educational institutions, Google Apps for Education provides e-mail, sharable online calendars, instant messaging and a website for faculty, students and staff at schools nationwide.
"Google Apps not only has the core tool sets used by schools, but they are natively built to encourage collaboration and interaction between teachers and students in schools and across districts," said Stanley Silverman, director of Technology Based Learning Systems and a professor in NYIT's School of Education.
Some New York districts, including Clarkstown in Rockland County and New Hartford in Oneida County, have already used Google Apps with great success, teachers said.
The partnership agreement, which will provide Google Apps for Education access and training, will make the programming available to the state's 697 public school districts and all non-public and charter schools. In April Oregon became the first state to make Google Apps Education Edition available statewide. Since then Iowa, Colorado and Maryland have jumped aboard.
Each district has the opportunity to choose its own resources, and there is no cost for school districts to implement Google Apps in their classrooms. NYIT will pilot the system for training of certified trainers; training will be provided by local teacher centers and associated BOCES, or professional organizations.
Due to the elimination of state funding this year, many teacher centers are struggling to stay open and continue providing services. More than two dozen have already closed.
"This initiative underscores the valuable role of teacher centers and public-private partnerships," said NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi.