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How Consolidated High School District 230 integrates Google Apps for Education into everyday learning

[Editor’s Note] Today’s blog post is a case study featuring the work SADA Systems has done to migrate the staff of Consolidated High School District 230 (or D230) to Google Apps for Education. 

Client: Consolidated High School District 230
Website: http://d230.org/
Organization size: 900 staff; 9k students
Country or Region: Illinois, USA
Industry: Education
SADA Service(s): Google Apps for Education migration

Customer Profile: Consolidated High School District 230 (The District 230 or D230)  is made up of three high schools in Illinois: Victor J. Andrew High School in Tinley Park, Carl Sandburg High School in Orland Park and Amos Alonzo Stagg High School in Palos Hills.

 

“The migration was flawless – it was great to have SADA as a partner.”
– John Connolly, Director of Technology at Consolidated High School District 230

 

Business Challenges:

Consolidated High School District 230 (The District 230 or D230)  is made up of three high schools in the south suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. Prior to moving to Google Apps for Education, the staff of the School District had been using Microsoft Exchange, while the students used Microsoft Live@edu.

There were several challenges with the District’s setup, including having students exist in one system in the cloud, while staff still worked off the on-premise system. Staff had difficulties with accessing email at home on the Outlook web-client, which had a different interface that the on-premise Exchange. Students also had difficulty accessing email or finding their cloud storage. Both staff and students struggled to be productive with a rough user experience that made it difficult to access critical tools to complete coursework or organize class resources.

The IT staff of D230 was also challenged with the management of these multiple systems, and found it resource intensive to keep up with the maintenance that was required in order to keep their technology centralized, as well as their hardware and servers up-to-date. When D230 began to evaluate its systems, the District focused on improving access, a better user experience, and fixing what was consuming the most time and productivity: management of their servers and the issue of downtime. D230 decided that moving to the cloud was the best option for its needs, and began to poll several teams within the District to initiate an evaluation process focused on selecting the right cloud solution.

 

Solution:

D230 chose Google Apps for Education as its communication and collaboration solution after a careful evaluation process by the District’s technology advisory committee, technical department and leadership team. A number of factors were considered: in addition to alleviating the IT issues the District faced Google Apps for Education also offered a comprehensive set of tools for collaboration. D230 noted that Google Apps was the solution that provided the most matured system for real-time collaboration with documents, along with superior services and integration. Google Apps was also the solution that seemed to be where the market was headed for higher education, as well as an increasing number of businesses. With the constant improvements made to the platform over time, D230 chose Google Apps for Education for its dynamic collaboration features.

SADA Systems worked closely with John Connolly, Director of Technology at D230 to migrate the faculty of D230 to Google Apps for Education. “The migration was flawless,” said Connolly. “It was great to have SADA as a partner.” Change management also played a crucial role to the success of the migration, with carefully timed coaching of Google Apps best practices to an “early adopters” subset of users, to better ensure adoption of the Google Apps platform. The project was kicked off in March, and continued to go live in June, after teachers had finished delivering their finals. All three schools and 900 faculty members were smoothly transitioned to Google Apps by July.

 

Results and Benefits:

The reception to Google Apps has been extremely positive, with more teachers and staff doing their work in a more paperless, green fashion using Google Docs and Google Drive. Drive and Docs have proven transformative for staff and faculty, who can now access files and whole portfolios of work (whether produced by staff or students), over any device with an internet connection. Connolly notes that Google Apps has also been forgiving of the staff members who might be slower to transition, by allowing the option of dropping Office files as they are, right into Google Drive.

Teachers have also found ways to integrate more advanced tools in Google Apps for Education into their teaching methodologies, including Google Chrome, YouTube, Google+ and Google Voice. Google Voice is particularly useful for foreign language teachers, who use it as a tool for students, who call into a Google Voice number to complete speaking prompts for tests and assignments. Google Voice is also helpful for teachers going on field trips or events, in order to reconnect or be available to students, without needing to hand out personal mobile numbers.

A surprisingly significant change for D230 was the shift from Internet Explorer as their primary browser to Google Chrome, which integrates perfectly with the District’s use of Google Apps. While Chrome was new to many users, the ability to log into the browser from anywhere and pull up all former work, extensions and bookmarks, as well as powerful customization capabilities, makes Chrome an essential component to the success of D230’s Google Apps transition.

Today, the staff and faculty of D230 continue to find ways to leverage the suite of tools in the Google Apps platform. “Email is just a portal into a world of tools that help you transform how you work,” said Connolly. “Email and calendaring help us manage our lives – but with Google Apps, you have a whole world of tools that help you work smarter and more efficiently.”

By moving to Google Apps for Education, Consolidated High School District 230 has saved on infrastructure costs, including server, storage, database and backup/archiving costs, all while increasing end-user collaboration.


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