Since it was introduced in 2005, then made available to schools at no cost a few years later, “Google Docs” has changed the educational technology landscape. Since then, the platform has undergone nearly continuous upgrading and updating, and renaming. In 2023, it is called Google Workspaces and the basic level of service which includes productivity tools, file storage, email and calendaring, and other tools continues to be provided to educational institutions at no cost.
Many individuals have signed up for the free consumer version of Google Workspaces as well. The basic service can be supplemented with a paid version of Google Workspaces. The capacity of the applications can also be enhanced and extended by add-ons, some of which are free (or available as freemium) others of which require a subscription. It is the responsibility of school IT professionals to manage the tools that are available, the add-ons, and the tools used to integrate Google Workspace files into the other systems provided by the school.
Many educators are familiar with the consumer version of Google Workspaces. The features and operations of the consumer and education versions of the platform are similar, the advertisements and data tracking that are unavoidable to consumers are disabled for school users. The familiarity of Google Workspaces independently of the school system can introduce some difficulties that must be negotiated. The complaint, “but I can do this on my personal account” is commonly heard by those who manage the schools’ Google Workspace must address.
Almost every IT professional hired into a position in a school will be expected to have some level of expertise using Google Workspaces to create and manage information.