DepEd jumps to Google cloud in nationwide first for Philippine government

DepEd Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro sending the first email using the agency's Google Apps for Education system. InterAksyon.com

MANILA, Philippines — Google may be the thorn on the side of teachers when it comes to student research, but a recent move by the Department of Education (DepEd) is aiming to turn the search giant’s online tools into something productive for public schools nationwide.

In a landmark partnership with Google, DepEd on Friday announced that it will be bringing its email system, collaboration tools, and calendar system to the cloud to help its more than 600,000 staff spread across the archipelago communicate better.

“DepEd [then] didn’t have a central email system — staff used personal email accounts,” related Reynaldo Laguda, Assistant Secretary, and ICT Chairperson at DepEd.

“And although DepEd sent memos to district offices or posted website updates, we lacked a unified and reliable channel to communicate and connect with each other,” Laguda added.

By signing up with Google Apps for Education, popular online tools such as GMail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Talk, and Google Groups will be at the DepEd’s immediate disposal.

Seven in eight Ivy League universities, as well as 72 of the top 100 US universities, use the same cloud-based apps for teaching and school operations, Google said.

And because the tools reside on the cloud, teachers and DepEd personnel will be able to access documents and other files using only their mobile phones, a common reality in far-flung areas with limited access to computers and the Internet.

“Moving content back and forth can be difficult and disk corruption or computer failure is common,” Laguda lamented. “With all DepEd’s content now in the cloud — 17 petabytes of storage devoted to teachers alone — staff no longer need to worry about keeping track of their data across multiple devices.”

The DepEd official stressed that the agency’s recent move is meant to make teachers “lead by example” in its drive to underscore the importance of technological literacy for teachers and students alike.

“We’re delighted to be joining 16 million teachers and students around the world who are already using Google Apps to work more efficiently and collaboratively, and to be bringing 7,000 islands into the cloud with us,” he added.

DepEd is the second government agency to employ Google Apps for use in delivering government services, the first being the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), back in January.

DepEd’s program, however, is the first full-blown nationwide implementation of Google Apps for Education in the country.

It follows the ongoing modernization of DepEd’s facilities and systems, which started with the use of thin clients for computerization of public schools and field-testing tablets for use in classrooms in place of traditional textbooks.

Taguig Rep. Sigfrido Tinga, chairperson of the House Committee on ICT, had earlier stressed that DepEd can solve its woes — such as lack of classrooms, textbooks, and competent teachers — by funneling funds to use of technology in schools.

InterAksyon.com