One our most popular blog posts pondered the question, “Which online learning environment is better for schools, G Suite for Education or Office 365?”
With the productivity and safety of students, teachers, and IT teams to consider, that question is difficult to answer in one blog post. So we wrote a sequel! Here are three more factors to take into account when picking the ecosystem where your students will live their academic lives.
Preparing Students for Education vs. Preparing Students for Work
While more than half of students in the U.S. use G Suite, Office 365 is still the industry standard for businesses, especially among big companies. There is certainly something to be said for having students work on a platform that opens them up to collaboration and connection with the largest possible number of their peers, but in today’s world where schools are increasingly judged by their students’ success in the workforce, teaching them the most common professional tools also makes sense.
Real-time, Multi-person Collaboration vs. Clearer Version Control
In Google’s shared, online environment, groups of students and teachers can work together in real time, commenting back and forth, capturing ideas as they happen.
On the flip side, with so many hands on deck, it can be challenging for teachers to track individuals’ contributions to a project, and there is always the chance that conversations will veer off-topic. Also, while online autosave is convenient, many educators prefer the clarity that comes with having a separate document for each draft of a project.
The Philosophies of Free vs. Freemium
While G Suite for Education is free, Office 365 Education offers a “freemium” pricing structure. The choice here is about more than price; it’s about what lies behind those costs.
A free product certainly simplifies your budget planning, but even when you’re not paying anything, you’re buying into an all-encompassing suite of products and are subject to the changes that Google might decide to make to their platform in the future. A freemium model, by contrast, might require you to upgrade from free to paid if your technology needs change, but it makes the feature set more predictable because you know that you’ll get precisely what you pay for.
The choice between G Suite and Office 365 affects everyone at a school or district every day, so it’s worth taking the time to reflect on what advantages or challenges each of them will offer, both immediately and in the future.