Skip to main content

Thoughts on Google versus Office

This was a recent question posted amongst school educators
G suite versus Office 365. Thoughts?
Since I wrote a fair bit, I thought I'd also post it here:



If people are learning with a modern pen-based tablet pc, or are learning math, science, or languages outside of the QWERTY keyboard, then it is Office365 specifically because of Microsoft OneNote. There is nothing in the Google Suite that provides a 360 degree flexible, open digital learning environment. However, that flexibility & openness does require a bit more work on training for novices (and some handholding for those teachers who aim pedagogically for a, umm, less-than-21st century and/or paperless classroom) . I cannot teach without it, and its use has improved instruction and assessment school wide.

I have experienced that Google Classroom is really good at structured (and perhaps inflexible) document management, given its genesis on top of Google Drive. Teachers also seem dependent on a collection of 3rd party apps/plugins that extend functionality to the Google system; Microsoft tends to build that extension by themselves (likely since it's a smaller part of the market).

Now, if you're only running Chromebooks then maybe it makes sense to go with Google, but iPads are becoming pen-active.

I would also say that in the past 18 months Microsoft got its stuff together in terms of the rest of the package. OneDrive (their cloud based storage) now actually works and the online versions of the Office suite are better than their GDocs options (not to mention that you can pull them into desktop versions for more functionality). Microsoft's other apps in Office365 all bring something new, different and powerful to the table (Sway, PowerBI, Yammer) or lack some features of their Google alternatives but are quite functional (Forms, Video, Group, Planner). Having said that, the latter group are also under aggressive development, with considerable improvements every four months. Forms isn't even a year old and already it's nipping at the heels of Google Forms.

And then finally (since I could likely write considerably more) there is Delve, the Office365 intelligence, something completely missing in Google. Given the massive amounts of information in the cloud, Delve sorts through it all and presents it to you prioritized. I work with Google for several other projects outside the school and get frustrated trying to search for materials in 100G and ten years; Delve proactively surfaces materials for me from across the school often before I realize I need it. And it's completely individualized, so students get their upcoming assignments and critical dates automatically highlighted while teachers get report deadlines and policy documents, for example. It is also beginning to be able to offer feedback on how people use the technology in order to be more efficient, productive and healthy.
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Teacher Professional Development and Microsoft OneNote

During the first three weeks of July, I have the amazing opportunity to work at the Park City Mathematics Institute.  It is, without exaggeration, the best professional development opportunity for teachers of mathematics.  Participants spend three weeks thinking deeply about mathematics and mathematics education.

There are three main aspects of PCMI:

learning mathematicsreflection on practice (RoP)becoming a resource to others.I'm part of the team for RoP and in charge of the third aspect, in which participants consider a gap in professional development back at their home districts and work in small groups to help fill that hole by developing a rich PD seminar on that topic.

It is not easy to develop professional development.  Teachers who haven't written PD have to patiently learn how to write (essentially) lesson plans for someone else.

This year, I used Microsoft OneNote to facilitate the process.  We have a central OneNote Notebook through which I lay out the daily schedule…

OneNotes upon OneNotes...

We're just prepping for the start of the school year (we don't start teaching until the 12th) and I just thought I'd run through how enmeshed Microsoft OneNote is to our school.

1) Class OneNotes -- this is where it all started five years ago, so we have over 2500 Class Notebooks in our archive.  Each year, we run a script against our timetable and a Class Notebook is created for every class, with a Teacher Content Library section group (including a private planning space), a Group Collaboration Space section group (with a wide-open collaborative space along with the opportunity to add additional small-group spaces at the teacher's whim), and a section group for each student (with appropriate student assignment dropbox, private teacher marking space and a returned section which the student can't edit for marked work.  This is all spelt out here here and here.

But then there are all the other places we use OneNote that I thought we should mention.

2) Department OneN…

Five reasons to learn Math with OneNote

So, Alice Keeler - @alicekeeler- who is an amazing blogger and an incredible resource for those using Google products, posted 60 Ways Math Teachers can use Google Classroom last April.  It came across my desk the other day and, since school hadn't started yet, I thought it might be a good reflection for me on how one could do similar tasks with OneNote Class Notebook.

I went through the list and checked that I could accomplish them all with OneNote and re-wrote her post with those modifications ... but it was looking a little "plagiarism-y" so, just to check, I emailed Alice to see if she was okay with it.  She was not, but encouraged me to do my own brainstorming.
So... Math Teachers & OneNote (including OneNote Class Notebook).  My top five... 
1) The Under-valued value of scribbles & notation
If you really want to be "paperless" (and that should never be a goal - you want to be digital so that content is no-cost) in a mathematics classroom, it's n…