Google: Too far out of the box for some? But now there's Presentation Apps.

In a couple separate meetings today the topic of hosting email versus outsourcing to Google was discussed. Many of my colleagues seem to have come to the conclusion that presently Google is not a good fit for our needs. While I feel comfortable with continuing to host email, I have a nagging feeling that we'll be back discussing this issue wihin the year. Looks like Google is now getting ready to bring a PowerPoint like web-based presentation application to their solution set.

Here's what Zdnet has to say about the new app:

Google Presentations…one more step in the right direction by ZDNet's Christopher Dawson -- Google's announcement of presentation software to be added to their existing Docs and Spreadsheets applications is welcome news for those of us in Ed Tech. Google doesn't pretend that this is meant to compete with MS Office or even OpenOffice and it doesn't represent a viable alternative to these products for us. According to Google [...]

The outsourced vs self-hosted issue is significant and is broader than just cost savings. It covers the entire productivity spectrum. Having word processing, a spreadsheet, and presentation software, with a good measure of collaboration capabilites mixed in, makes Google Apps impossible to ignore. Oh, and don't forget all those mashup capabilities. There's little doubt in my mind that by next year, Fall '08, entering first year students will be equally, if not more comfortable using Google Apps to do school work. Keep in mind, for the most part these are 1.0 versions of these applications, (yes, I know in the 2.0 world we don't talk about versions), but imagine them in 3,5,...years. Google Apps for Education is an opportunity to apply the integrated outsourcing principle. We are going to have to embrace and extend web-based servcies and continue to support the mission of the instituion and maintain a sense of community.

Of course there are the issues of security, data mining, and a general fear of a big corporate behemouth, but that's why a near-follower strategy might be the smartest bet at this time. But sooner or later...

Google, email, productivity, higher education

Zimbra vs. Google

My colleagues and I have been discussing the direction of email at PSU, i.e., whether we should be using an outsourced model like Google or continue hosting an email application at Plymouth, specifically a vendor based solution like Zimbra. Of course the issues are larger than just the email "killer app." We've been following ASU's efforts to work with Google Apps for Education, with the Google personalized web page, SSO to the start page and other ASU resources. Particularly interesting is that ASU is using uPortal which is the core portal technology behind Luminis portal, which is what we are using at PSU. Here's what Adrian Sannier, CTO at ASU has to say.

So far in our debates, the tally below indicates our current thinking between the two possible alternatives. Our analysis will evolve as we continue with our present "near follower" strategy and engage in further research to develop a better sense of what the best fit for our environment is.

 Zimbra Google
Security
Policy
 Cost
Flexibility
Innovation Innovation
Backup
Realiabilty
Community Community
One Account for life

google apps, uportal, luminis, zimbra

Building Community

I've been thinking a lot about what a web 2.0 higher ed portal community would look like. Mind you I believe our current portal at Plymouth State is successful, but the challenge is to make it even better. This post by FutureBoy caught my eye as it has some contrary insights. I particularly like this line: "Successful Web 2.0 enterprises are very good at creating accessible walled gardens." Hmmm.

portals, web 2.0,

Luminis IV and uPortal

We'll be upgrading to Luminis IV as soon as possible. I'm looking forward to the improvements in the user interface. We're getting a glimpse of some of the possibilities by reviewing the online tour based on uPortal 2.3.3 put together by Virginia Tech .

Portal, uPortal, Luminis