The University of Ghana, with assistance from Google Ghana, has deployed Google Apps for Education, an integrated communication, collaboration and productivity suite to replace its existing platform. This move provides a huge to boost to the technology infrastructure of the university to enable better communication and collaboration between students, faculty and staff.
Google Apps for Education, provides a platform made up of a free suite of applications (email, documents, spreadsheets, calendar, sites, groups and more), similar to the consumer applications provided by Google. Google Apps for Education, however includes additional capabilities which allow educational institutions to deploy the suite and still retain administrative control over its access and use. Google Apps for Education also offers an ad-free use of these applications.
According to the press release from the University of Ghana, the initiative was done as part of the Google Apps Supporting Program (GASP) from Google. The Google Apps Supporting Program is one of the institutional components of Google’s Africa University Programs. The Google Apps Supporting Program targets universities in Sub-Saharan Africa to provide support to deploy Google Apps in a way that ensures increased productivity and efficiency. According to Google GASP site, it provides support through all or some of these three elements:
- Connectivity: Assistance with Internet connectivity – ranging from Internet bandwidth to campus infrastructure grants.
- Technical Training & Consultation: Campus visits and technical workshops provided by Google engineers or affiliated organizations at no charge.
- Deployment & Adoption: On site assistance with deployment, configuration and user training at no charge.
Google Apps for Education, provides opportunities for improved communication and collaboration across the whole University of Ghana community including staff, faculty, students and to some extent alumni. One of the best benefits of Google Apps is its support for the most prevalent, robust and ubiquitous data connectivity available in Ghana, SMS. This therefore ensures all members of the University of Ghana community can participate using web and mobile devices.
As part of the University of Ghana deployment, Google provided an Infrastructure Grant worth around GH¢186,977.70, which is in line with the goals of the Google Apps Supporting Program. The platform will be administered by the University of Ghana Computing Systems (UGCS), which is in charge of the development and use of ICT to enhance activities in the university. Befittingly it was the UGCS team, which championed the adoption of the platform.
Speaking at the launch event, Estelle Akofio-Sowah, Google Ghana Country Manager indicated Google’s desire to assist more Ghanaian universities to leverage the opportunities the internet provides. She also applauded the University of Ghana for being the first institution in Ghana to join this platform and said all students will now have access to a lifetime email address and 25 GB of storage space. Prof. Chris Gordon, Acting Director of the Institute for Environment and Sanitation Studies (IESS), the organisation used for a test pilot of the within the university, also spoke on the benefits of the platform.
The University of Ghana now joins a list of about seven other universities in Sub Saharan Africa ( and others worldwide), using Google Apps for Education. If you are interested in championing the adoption of Google Apps for Education in your institution, check out the following resource.