Google Apps for Education: Frequently Asked Questions

About Google Apps for Education

What is Google Apps for Education?

FCPS Google Apps for Education (GAE) is an integrated communication and collaboration solution, hosted by Google and managed by FCPS.  GAE will provide the ability for FCPS students, faculty and staff to communicate, store files and collaborate on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in real time from school, work, or home, all within a secure “closed campus” online environment.

How will it be used?  

Google Apps will provide the ability for students and teachers to store files and collaborate on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in real time from school or home within a “closed campus” online environment. The use of these tools is optional, and intended to provide an approved and supportable alternative to “consumer” Google accounts.

What can my student/child do with Google Apps?  

Students will have easy access to their documents, spreadsheets, and presentations within Google Docs. In addition, students will have additional storage for other files they may need to use between home and school.
As the use of FCPS Google Apps continues, there may be other features that are added within Google Apps for Education.  You will be informed about any significant changes to the tools your student is using in the secure FCPS environment.

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Costs and Fees

How much is FCPS paying for this?

Google Apps for Education is free to FCPS.

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Computer Access

What if I don’t have a computer, how is my child going to get to use it?

The use of FCPS Google Apps for Education is part of the instructional program and students have many opportunities to work in their FCPS Google Apps account during the school day.  Because FCPS Google Apps for Education is safe and web based, it can be accessed from the public library or other places where computers are available.

Should I get my child their own computer?

The use of FCPS Google Apps for Education does not require students to have their own computer or any other personal device.  That is an individual family decision.

How will my child access FCPS Google Apps for Education?  

With teacher guidance, students must first activate their GAE account and set their password from a computer at school. Once the student has an active account, there are a variety of ways to log in:

Will my child be required to access GAE at home?

The instructional use of FCPS Google Apps for Education is optional, with decisions about GAE in the classroom often made at the school level by teachers. Since GAE is accessible from any device with access to the Internet, your child does have the opportunity to log in to his or her FCPS Google Apps account from home to access their information or work on their documents, and collaborate on shared documents with other students and/or their teacher.

Why can’t my child e-mail me with this account? 

FCPS Google Apps is a “walled garden.”  It will not allow students to send or receive email outside of the FCPS Google Apps domain.  You will not be able to email your student at his or her fcpsschools.net address, nor will they be able to email you.   

My child already has a Gmail account, why can't they use that one?

FCPS Google Apps Mail is one of the applications offered. Please be assured your student’s fcpsschools.net account will work only within our secured environment.  In other words, your student will only be able to use this account for messaging within FCPS Google Apps.  It will not allow him or her to send or receive email outside of our “walled garden.” You will not be able to email your student at his or her fcpsschools.net address, nor will he or she be able to email you.

Do these apps work on an iPad or other tablet?  

Google Apps documents may be edited using a mobile browser.

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Parent Access

Can parents use it?

Currently only FCPS employees and FCPS students can access FCPS Google Apps for Education.  

Can I see what my child is doing on Google Apps?

Will there be a Parent View account?  No there is not a Parent View account.  Parents are encouraged to explore Google Apps with their children by logging in together. You will be able to have your student log in to his or her FCPS Google account at home and show you what they are currently working on in class, as well as items that have been “turned in” and commented on by the teacher.

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Privacy and Security

Why is my child’s FCPS Google Apps account her student ID number? It is my understanding that student ID numbers are private information.

FCPS employs a “walled garden” approach to implement Google Apps for Education (GAE). Use of the student ID number as userid is consistent with existing privacy regulations. While FCPS does use student identification numbers in different internal applications, they are protected by a PIN (Personal  Identification Number) as in the case of lunch money or the students have no direct access to the system as in the case of the library system.  Google Apps was reviewed by the Information Technology department and the issue of students being able to see the ID number of other students, was found to be within our acceptable security guidelines, since their Google Apps account is also secured by a personal password.  If you have additional questions, please contact the IT Service Desk at 703.503.1600.

Please explain the reasoning and process that went into approving the use of the student ID as my child’s Google Apps for Education username.

FCPS has standardized on the use of student ID in combination with a unique password for student access to network and application resources including GAE.  Student ID is considered directory information for this limited purpose.   All FCPS teachers and staff have been notified about acceptable as well as unacceptable use of student ID numbers. 

Online security – How protected is my student from outside people?

FCPS takes security and privacy of student information very seriously.  FCPS Google Apps is not accessible by anyone outside of FCPS, so your student will be able to work and collaborate in a safe and secure online environment.  

What about Privacy?

FCPS is responsible for protecting and safeguarding the confidentiality of student information.  FCPS has contracted with Google to provide access to Google Apps for Education to its users (students and staff) in a closed and secure environment that is not accessible by anyone outside of FCPS.   Google Apps is governed by detailed privacy policy and security measures which FCPS has reviewed and is satisfied they appropriately protect the privacy of its users of these tools.  Under our Terms of Service Agreement with Google, like FCPS, they are obligated to comply with FERPA regulations.  Additional information about GAE security & privacy may be found at http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/edu/privacy.html.

What assurances has Google given FCPS that they will not collect data on my student?

FCPS has a signed agreement with Google based on the terms of this agreement. http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/terms/education_terms.html Please see Section 7.  FCPS Google Apps for Education is compliant with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Children's Online Privacy Protection Act  (COPPA.)

Who has access to my child’s account?

The Google Apps Terms of Service agreement with FCPS contractually ensures that our institution (students, faculty, and staff) are the sole owners of their data.  Google will only access content stored on Apps when an administrator from FCPS grants Google explicit permission to do so. One example would be to investigate inappropriate use.

Does my child retain copyright of their creations?

The same copyright rules apply to content in GAE that would apply to any other creation, provided the student is the sole owner.

What protection will FCPS provide so that my child is not accessing inappropriate content on the web?

There are no advertisements used with Google Apps for Education. GAE is an online collaboration tool that is accessed using a web browser and requires a login and password.

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Google Apps in the Classroom

What apps are available and how can I expect my child’s teacher to use them?

FCPS Google Apps for Education will provide students with secure and easy online access to documents, spreadsheet, presentation and communication tools that can be accessed easily from home or school and enhance teacher and student collaboration in the classroom and beyond.  

Teachers can use Google Docs to facilitate group projects and use the history tool to see the level of participation of each student in a group. Teachers will be able to give feedback to students directly in documents shared with a teacher. Turning in assignments will be as easy as sharing the file in Google Docs with the teacher, or by emailing it to the teacher through the student’s FCPS Google Apps Mail account.

What if another student deletes their work?  

The owner is the only person who can delete a document. Once a document is deleted, no one can access it, including those with whom it was shared.

How will Google Apps reflect in their grade?

The use of Google Apps for Education will not in itself impact grades. Consult with your child’s teacher/s about individual class requirements.

Why is Google necessary for the students; can’t the teachers just answer the students’ questions?  

The use of Google Apps for Education is another tool FCPS provides to help students and teachers communicate, collaborate, apply critical thinking skills, and work creativity.  Teachers will continue to answer students’ questions in the classroom. Google Apps for Education provide students an additional opportunity to ask a teacher question electronically, helping students learn to communication in a real world environment.

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Why Use Google Apps for Education?

Why is the school system doing this?  

"Digital Citizenship” and “21st Century Skills” are concepts which help teachers, technology leaders and parents to understand what students/children/technology users should know to use technology appropriately. Digital Citizenship and 21st Century Skills are more than just a teaching tool; using these tools can be a way to prepare students/technology users for a society full of technology. Too often we are seeing students as well as adults misusing and abusing technology but not sure what to do. The issue is more than what the users do not know but what is considered appropriate technology usage.”

Why do students need an e-mail?  Isn’t there another way to communicate?

Google Apps for Education is available in all FCPS schools. Schools can implement GAE when they are ready. Providing students with a closed email address will allow for streamlined collaboration among their peers and teachers, and provides a consistent digital tool that can be accessed from home and at school.  This will also allow email to become an instructional tool and allows students to participate in authentic online learning in a safe environment.

Why do we need Google Apps for Education when we already have FCPS 24-7?

FCPS 24-7 Learning is the online resource that allows Fairfax County Public Schools students to extend learning beyond the traditional school day and beyond school facilities.  Use FCPS 24-7 Learning to access homework and classroom assignments, view class calendars, explore links to enrichment activities, and update emergency contact information.  

What is the value of Google Apps for Education (GAE)?  

Classroom collaboration, Students and teachers can open and edit their documents quickly. No more distractions like USB keys, outdated file attachments, or confusing client software. Anytime, anywhere access Google Docs lets users be productive at school, at home, and even on their mobile phones. Because Google Docs runs in a web browser, students can work from almost any family computer without having to purchase new software. Easily upload and share files Google Docs works on PC, Mac, and Linux computers, and supports popular formats such as .doc, .xls, .ppt, and .pdf. Files stored on Google Docs are always accessible and backed-up online. Smarter commenting, better feedback Google Docs' intuitive commenting feature is ideal for instructor and collaborator feedback. Revision history allows users to review document edits over time.

Frequently Asked Question Topics:

About Google Apps for Education

Cost and Fees

Computer Access

Parent Access

Privacy and Security

Google Apps in the Classroom

Why Use Google Apps for Education?

Contact:

Kathy Manley
SBTS Program Manager
571-423-4643

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Rebecca Tenally
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Last Updated

March 28, 2014