A lot of the functionality of the Google in Education suite at RMIT requires that Google Apps and Add-ons be made available. I have considerable empathy for those such as Paul Gough our Pro Vice-Chancellor and Vice President of the College of Design and Social Context. Paul set up a blog last year and diligently went about it using the university platform made available for blogging, Blogger as part of the Google suite of tools provided here. All the design and setup was done only to find that email subscription was impossible. This was because Feedburner, the Google subscription app is not turned on at RMIT.
I feel proud of what Paul was attempting. To have someone so senior in our organisation setting an example by blogging and using social media is really pleasing. For me blogging is a primary digital literacy that many of our students will need if their careers are to succeed; but blogs need engagement and email subscription is an important part of that. In the business side of blogging 80% of sales originate from email subscription. The same could be true in terms of educational engagement.
These sorts of issues don’t just exist with Blogger they exist with many of the Google tools made available by RMIT at present, and these issues remain until Apps and Add-ons are turned on. For example Google Sites have limited use as a student eportfolio until a lecturer can create a class set from a template in one place, as discussed here. Then there are Add-ons such as Flubaroo, Doctopuss and Kaizena, which are essential parts of most primary school teachers’ (alas not our Lecturers) tool skill sets for connecting and working with their students. Then there are tools such as iScanner which could be used for collecting evidence of student’s scanned work into Google Drive, once the university Drive apps are turned on.
In the mean time our staff and students are increasingly turning to tools external to the university WordPress. There are outstanding examples of using WordPress for content and student portfolios. In particular design teaching areas are attracted to WordPress because of its strong design and functional capabilities.
This is something of a shame because Blogger is still a good tool also with strong design potential and is easier to use.
As I understand it there is a plan for Google Apps and Add-ons to be turned on at RMIT. If you have any concerns about this you can contact your college rep on the Google Apps for Learning and Teaching committee. These are Philip Quealy in Business, Howard Errey in Design and Social Context, Geoff Marchiori in Science Education and Health and Robert Hollenbeck in Vietnam.
In the mean time you can read and comment on Paul Gough’s WordPress blog here.