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Islands in the cloud: Philippines' Department of Education goes Google

Editor’s note: Today’s guest post is authored by Reynaldo D. Laguda, Assistant Secretary and ICT Chairperson of the Philippines Department of Education (DepEd)

Here’s a problem to solve: How do you connect 45,000 schools, 200 divisions and 600,000 staff across more than 7,000 islands? (Hint, it’s not with lots of boats). The answer we came to at the Philippines Department of Education (DepEd) was to move our systems into the cloud with Google Apps for Education. DepEd was looking for solutions to solve the day-to-day challenges of managing a large and complex national education institution with less than perfect technology. DepEd didn’t have a central email system — staff used personal email accounts. 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.

The benefits of moving to Google Apps for Education extend beyond improving our communications. Many of our teachers working in remote areas without reliable internet infrastructure access the web via mobile devices or Internet cafes. Moving content back and forth can be difficult and disk corruption or computer failure is common. 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. They’ll now be able to access all the material they need from any device that has an Internet connection.

 DepEd Secretary Br. Armin A. Luistro FSC sends the first official email on Google Apps for EDU

The days of physically sending reports or curricula across the far reaches of the archipelago and hoping for the best are gone too. Switching to cloud based collaboration tools means everyone, from the DepEd Secretary to teachers in Kalinga province, will be able to access whatever they need from wherever they are. What’s more, they’ll be able to work together in real-time using Google Docs, Google Groups and Google Sites.

As the nation’s educators, we understand the importance of technological literacy for our students and believe that teachers should lead by example. And moving to Google Apps for Education comes at the right time. Going Google gives us the technology we need to meet the goals of "GO! Education" – a national initiative designed to improve educational access and quality in the Philippines. 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.