Which online learning environment is superior, G Suite for Education or Office 365?
According to recent Speak Up data, two-thirds of students in grades 6-12 report using G Suite for Education while Approximately 40% of students in say they use Office 365. Although some edtech leaders swear by one or the other, neither solution can stake the claim to being better than the other. The question is more properly framed as: Which online learning environment is better for your school or district?
It’s no different than purchasing any other product. You need to ask yourself what will be best for your end users, your administration and your technology team. Here are three considerations that will help you begin to determine if G Suite for Education or Office 365 is a better fit for you.
Innovation or Perfection
Which is better for your school or district, innovation or perfection? With respect to educational software, Google always seems to be the ones blazing the path, continually developing new tools far more quickly than anyone else in the industry. With Google, you can count on receiving tools and features on the forefront of technological development.
While the innovative solution is better for some schools and districts, Google is too bleeding edge for others. What good is there in having cutting-edge features if your educators and students aren’t likely to use them? Moreover, a limitation of Google’s approach is that many tools are only half-finished upon release and need to be improved continually. Microsoft tends to be more conservative, following paths paved by other companies, while rolling out more complete packages as a result of its patience.
Simplicity or Granularity
Google has always championed simplicity and ease of use. Google apps tend to offer fewer options and out-of-the-box customization, but as a result, most users are capable of picking it up quickly.
Alternatively, Microsoft offers far more flexibility and granularity in its tools, both administratively and for end users. If you don’t have a lot of requirements and want a simpler solution with a smaller learning curve, G Suite is the way to go. Alternatively, if you have a lot of technical requirements and need more control, Office 365 will be superior.
Open or Closed
How important is third-party integration? Traditionally, Google has supported openness, and they continue to do so with their education products. G Suite for Education offers more flexibility for those who want to use third-party applications, like Gaggle Safety Management.
This is not to say that Microsoft cannot work with third-party solutions at all (we integrate with them just fine), but rather they aren’t as optimized for integration as much as Google, and you could experience greater difficulty. Alternatively, this gives Microsoft administrators far more control and engenders a more secure environment overall.
When you consider whether to use G Suite for Education or Office 365 for your school or district, don’t just look at features. Examine how each solution functions on a high-level to determine what’s right for you.
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