As other Universities have done we have recently moved our student email system over to Google Mail. A fantastic product which takes the hosting strain away from the University and gives our students a mail interface they are used to and a huge amount of storage space so they need never archive again!
However, what hasn't been fully utilised yet are the additional features of Google Apps, specifically Google Docs. Like many businesses we are running Microsoft Office on our desktop PC's and are now in the process of upgrading to Office 2007. But, is this the way our students really want to work?
The advantages lie with the fact that the majority of our student PC's are shared machines, so it makes sense to have your documents stored online. This cuts down on the use of memory sticks and possible version issues, you can share the document with your peers for feedback and you can collaborate on issues without having to physically share a file.
The disadvantages though are when you start to look at the slightly more complex functionality. Formulas you might use in Excel are not going to be available in a Google Spreadsheet and there are no animations for Google Presentations at all!
But, are there enough disadvantages to stop students using the service? We'll have to wait and see what the take up is like but I don't think we'll be ditching our Office 2007 contract just yet.