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America's Dairyland schools moooove to the cloud

Posted by Julia Stiglitz, Google Apps for Education Team

When it comes to education, Wisconsinites have always been on the cutting edge. The very first kindergarten in the US was founded more than 150 years ago in the town of Watertown, WI. In higher education, the University of Wisconsin-Madison awarded the first Ph.D. in chemical engineering ever granted in 1905. Continuing the trend of advancing education in the state, K-12 schools in Wisconsin are going Google.

Thanks to a collaboration between the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and the 12 Cooperative Educational Services Agencies (CESAs), over 850,000 students and 55,000 teachers across Wisconsin will have access to Google Apps for Education, professional development and technical deployment support.

"It’s fantastic to have such support for public education from Google, an outstanding leader in the business and information systems world," says Wisconsin State Superintendent Tony Evers. "I’m glad we were able to dedicate resources to help schools take advantage of this opportunity. Schools need to save time and money, and students need to learn collaboration and technology skills so they will graduate ready for higher education and the workforce. "

One of the reasons Wisconsin decided to bring Google Apps to the state was the overwhelming support from individual school districts. In fact, 81% of educators polled in an exploratory survey were already using or strongly considering Google Apps for Education. Many school districts who had gone Google offered to share their experiences to help the state make an informed decision.

Joe Tanner, Technology Director of Oregon School District in southern Wisconsin, moved to Google Apps in 2007 and found that "by choosing Google Apps, the Oregon School District has saved tens of thousands of dollars, improved the reliability of our email systems, enabled easier collaboration for staff and students, and provided students with experience on the kinds of web-based, collaborative software that they will use in the workplace."

40 miles south, teachers in the Janesville School District have been using Google Apps for the past 2 years to create paperless classrooms. Franklin Middle School uses Google Sites to distribute the school's newspaper. Third grade teacher Nicole Andresen has gone paperless by relying on Gmail and Google Docs to distribute assignments. "I can create comprehension questions, surveys and other assignments for my students to answer from their email using Google Forms," she said, "and it's so much easier for me to grade since I don't need to remember to bring worksheets home."

Kathy Boguszewski, Library Media & Instructional Technology Coordinator in Janesville, is excited for other Wisconsin schools to join the 12 million students and teachers that have gone Google worldwide. "Google Apps is changing how we work and teach," she said, "and we are loving it!"