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By Adam Petrovsky, GovEd Practice Leader, Logicalis US

When broadband made it possible for schools to begin earnestly embracing the Internet, educators and technologists alike were unsure how they would incorporate emerging compute capabilities into the classroom. Among the first to propose a cloud-based program, Google offered K12 schools free access to its cloud-based Google for Education suite – which included Google Docs and a host of other productivity programs. Because it was both free and cloud-based, which meant no management headaches for K12 CIOs, schools across the country forged relationships with Google.  Later, improved wi-fi capabilities coupled with $200 Chromebooks allowed K12 educators to take their first baby steps toward true digitization.

During this time, however, Microsoft tools like Word, Excel and PowerPoint solidified their position as the established norms in the business world. Now that Microsoft has begun to offer its Office 365 application suite via the cloud to the education market free of charge, K12 CIOs have been forced to debate whether a long-term relationship with Microsoft or Google will be best for their evolving digital learning environments.

Three Steps Toward a More Digital Learning Experience

Many schools that had previously adopted Google solutions will soon be ready for a technology refresh, something which has brought the Microsoft vs. Google dilemma to the forefront of educators’ minds and discussions. If they stick with Google, they’re locking themselves into a non-standard format.  If they switch to Microsoft combined with today’s sub-$300, Windows 10-based X86 laptops, they gain significant functionality, but they must also address the infrastructure and security requirements that come along with that.

Ultimately, if your school is in this position, you must determine where your digital strategy is headed and select the platform that will best support that choice.  It’s not an easy decision, and you may need a skilled consultant to help you through the process, which includes three important steps.

  1. Develop a Roadmap: Start by examining the bigger picture. Look at where you are today from a hardware, infrastructure and security perspective. Then, create a digital education framework so you know where your school is heading that includes key technological milestones you must meet along the way.
  2. Evaluate Long-Term Relationships: When weighing the Google vs. Microsoft question, look at the long-term benefits and challenges you may have in terms of supporting your digital roadmap with each option. How, for example, will the choice of Google or Microsoft impact your existing infrastructure? Will you need additional bandwidth? Security? And what do you get in return? Take a look at a side-by-side comparison of the two offerings, then educate yourself about the future of both application suites.
  3. Envision a Fully Digital K12 Classroom: Imagine a digital device in the hands of every student that allows them to leverage a digital curriculum that not only imparts knowledge, but captures and submits assignments directly into the school’s learning management system – a true digital experience. How does your choice of Microsoft or Google ultimately move the school toward this vision of digital learning? Google is completely immersed in the cloud, so if the cloud represents the future of digital, students using Google apps will become very well-versed in managing applications in a cloud-based environment.  However, a Microsoft suite coupled with an HP, Dell or Lenovo endpoint delivers industry-standard business applications students will use long after graduation.

In the end, the goal is to deliver deeper interactive digital experiences that better engage students and drive increases in academic performance and test scores.  The pro and the con is that K12 CIOs now have a choice to make.

Want to learn more? Find out how Logicalis US, a Microsoft Gold Partner, can help you maximize your investment in Microsoft technologies. Wish you had a flexible, consumption-based model for Office 365 and Azure? Learn what Logicalis’ recently expanded Cloud Solution Provider program has to offer. Then, explore Logicalis’ expert blogs on related GovEd topics here: