Google Drive is Good

Google Drive has been out for a week so those who had been waiting for it should have it running by now. If you did not grab it early then you typically waited at least a day to be provisioned to load it. We have intentionally kept the announcement quiet at our university so that we could evaluate and formulate a plan for how we might transition our employee/student web storage to Google. So far it is all that I had hoped it would be. If you have jumped on the Google Collaboration bandwagon you are aware of the strategic advantages and that the “Drive” component was the missing link.

We have used Xythos (now Blackboard) web storage solution for 7 years and it provided the web storage flexibility that we desired but it never reached that ease of use level that would have commanded our loyalty. So now it does appear that we will formulate a plan to migrate from Xythos to Google Drive. And for this move I want to be proactive. We allowed our users to adopt Google Apps as they desired and for the most part we are happy with their usage. When we replaced our university email with gmail there was a major uptick in the strategic use of the Google Collaboration suite and again we were pleased with the overall usage patterns. This has driven new IT coaching initiatives to promote the most effective ways to utilize Google Docs.

Google Drive is the completion to the overall cloud based solution. With the increasing use of Google Docs, management of those app files was starting to be a problem, especially with all of the sharing relationships. Google Drive’s initial task migrated all of your Google Docs into a folder based organization that returned control to you for of those original Cloud files. Now with the option to move or co-locate our traditional drive based files to G-Drive with collaboration flexibility, and providing access for all of our computing devices (IOS version coming soon), we are happy.

Of course we can’t adopt another Google tool without dealing with the privacy question. Google’s Terms of Service are clear. Google does not own your files. By accepting Google’s Terms, you authorize Google to provide the services you have requested. They may learn more about us from the file names we use, but they are not mining our files for secrets. Doesn’t mean we should have secrets in our files, because the real security issue is still maintaining our own account security.

Now we begin to strategize how best to leverage this completed collaboration tool kit. And what is great is that we have the Summer to prepare for a university rollout. It does not look like we have any concerns about early adopters for our .edu domain accounts. I am optimistic that the pricing model for education will allow us to easily provision additional storage quotas for our power users and management of our domain with Google has never been a problem. So we just focus on the Google Drive features and encourage migration from our Xythos, but we are not looking at any hard transition milestones. Life does get better for Higher Education IT.

So let the dreams continue. It is encouraging to know that Google already has API’s addressing some of the Web based access options. I’ll be looking for Moodle LMS plugins. Maybe the next gift from Google will be an expanded Video distribution system complete with sharing controls and streaming options.

About ghsmith76

Greg Smith is currently the Interim CIO at Western Washington University. Prior to WWU Greg was the CIO at Missouri S&T, and before that the CIO for George Fox University in Newberg, OR. Greg went to the Northwest from the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology in Indianapolis, IN. where he served as the Director of IT for 8 years. Prior to the IT career in Academia, Greg was a Systems Consultant with Hewlett-Packard primarily with the Analytical Group working out of San Francisco,Cincinnati and Indianapolis. Greg's passion as a CIO in Higher Education comes from his belief that Technology can benefit Teaching & Learning.

Posted on May 1, 2012, in Cloud, Google and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Greg, to what extent does a campus really need Moodle anymore? Between Google Gdrive, forms and spreadsheets (for exams, grading, and course evaluations), Groups, Sites (including Sites with embedded Docs), course Calendar, Chat, and Hangout.. is Moodle a distraction to students and faculty?

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    • Good question. I still believe the LMS can provide a good launch portal for your courses. Use it to tie things together. Students appreciate the consistency. But those who believe an LMS is worth paying for have missed the boat. But true, the more powerful tools now reside with the collaboration suites such as provided by Google.

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  2. Greg, We are considering what it means to move away from Xythos to Drive. One of our biggest concerns we have is what to do with departmental shares that are not assigned to a unique person (e.g. Finance share with lots of spreadsheets on it). Did GFU have a similar issue and what did you do about these objects?

    Thanks,

    Dave Gibson

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