Here's a summary of the major steps in the process of switching your school to Google Apps for Education.
1. Choose your Google Apps domain
The domain may be pretty obvious, but you have some options that allow you to fit the needs of your district. You'll need to decide on a single domain or multiple domains to help with work flows. It might be that the decision has been made for you, and all you have to do is go on to Step 2.
2. Apply to Google for Education
Probably the simplest step. Register your domain and verify domain ownership.
3. Decide on a structure for your Organizational Units
The most obvious organization is probably students, teachers, and administrators. You might also decide to segment the students based on grade level or teachers based on campuses. You can reference the best practices to determine the structure that is best for your district.
4. Determine e-Mail Architecture and Flow
Now we're getting into the stuff techs were made for. You'll have some decisions to make about how you want to get mail delivered. Will it need to all go through a legacy server or will the content be coming through Google? Maybe you'll have some users routed one way and others another. You'll need to think through the architecture of your current mail delivery system to decide which system you'd prefer.
5. Provision Users in Google for Education
Creating the users is the step that worries most people. Depending on the size of your district, you could be trying to migrate hundreds of thousands of accounts into the new system. You have a few options. Manual is available, although it's probably not what you're looking forward to. You can also upload up to 500 users at a time through CSV's. You have access to the Google Apps Directory Sync that will use information that already exists, or you can use a provisioning API that will allow users to be created programmatically. You might even find it best at this point to use a Google provisioning partner to take over this process.
6. Set up Google Classroom
The biggest thing you have to decide at this stage is if you'll be setting up the classrooms or allowing teachers to create their own. Google does offer an API that can help with the process, or again, you might opt for a 3rd party option. Often 3rd party developers have more expertise in customizing an API for different organizations, and they can save time because they have a lot of the work done already.
7. Decide how Students & Faculty will Authenticate in Google Apps
You'll need to decide if it will be better for your users to authenticate straight to Google or to go through the district in order to coordinate with other services you have set up. Either route is possible and Google Apps for Education is integrated with a wide array of existing software.
8. What data will you Migrate to Google for Education?
The last thing you'll have to decide is how much baggage are you letting users bring with them. If you're currently using IMAP, Microsoft Exchange or even Lotus Notes you can migrate all of your previous messages (and in some cases contacts and appointments) to Google Apps for Education.
Decide the amount of data you need transferred. While there's no risk in moving data there is a time, bandwidth and cost factor. A Google for Education partner, like Coolhead Tech, can move the data for you and make recommendations on where to draw the line on what goes and what stays.
Overall the process pretty straightforward, and you're walking down a path others have trod before. You'll have access to plenty of best practices to help you make choices that are right for your school or district. Google Apps for Education will help your students, teachers, and administrators in ways they didn't imagine possible. Congratulations, you get to make that happen!
CoolheadTech can help you with the implementation of Google Apps for Education. Contact us today about how our Google Apps experts can help you.