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Monday
Aug022010

MAPS Apps - Letter to Parents

I have been asked to share documents related to our roll-out of GoogleApps (MAPS Apps) for our students this fall. This is the first. As always, I'd love to hear suggestions for improvement and readers are welcome to use it if they can in their own districts. - Doug

MAPS Apps - Letter to Students

MAPS Apps - Letter to Teachers


Fall 2010

Dear Parents and Guardians of Students in District 77:

This fall, all students in grades 3-8 will be supplied with a new resource, MAPSApps.

MAPSApps is a set of online tools for communication, collaboration, time-management, and document storage. Provided by Google to the district at no cost, these tools include:

  • Gmail: a full functioning e-mail program
  • Calendar: a customizable calendar and to-do list
  • Contacts: an address book
  • GoogleDocs: a word processing, spreadsheet, presentation and drawing program that allows multi-user access and editing
  • Google continues to add new tools and the district will evaluate each for its educational potential


All of these tools are housed on the Internet and can be accessed from any Internet-connected computer with a web-browser. No special software is required.

Our primary reasons for supplying these tools to students are:

  • To give our students practice in using current technology applications and tools
  • To give students the ability to work on common, no-cost tools on their own documents both at school and outside of school
  • To facilitate “paperless” transfer of work between students and teachers
  • To provide adequate (seven gigabyte) long-term storage space for student work
  • To help students work collaboratively, engage in peer-editing of documents, and publish for a wider audience

There is also a cost savings to the district since fewer licenses for commercial copies of programs will need to be purchased and less file storage space will need to be maintained.

To ensure the safety of our students, MAPSApps student domains are “closed.” This means that students can only e-mail and share documents with their teachers and other students within the district. The applications also have spam filtering enabled.

Library media specialists will be reviewing our district’s acceptable use policy and Internet safety guidelines when they introduce these tools to students. Using online tools responsibly will be an important part of the learning experience.

Please ask your student about this new resource and have him/her demonstrate how it works to you. And please contact me or your child’s library media specialist if you have questions about MAPS Apps.

Sincerely,

Doug Johnson

 

(Yes, we have newer computers in the district than the picture would suggest. I just think the older ones make for prettier photos.)

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Reader Comments (20)

After years of using Google Accounts in my technology classroom, I have convinced my principal to use Google Apps for our entire campus. I was looking around tonight for some sample parent letters and ran across yours, that you posted today! Could I use pieces and parts of your letter?! Thanks for considering.

August 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmy Hopkins

Hi Amy,

Of course you are welcome to use any part of the letter if it is helpful.

All the best,

Doug

August 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

Doug -

Thanks so much for the permission. One question: is it not necessary to get parent permission? I've seen school districts handle it both ways - informing parents and gaining permission. Your thoughts?

August 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmy Hopkins

Hi Amy,

I would suggest an "opt-out" clause if you think it is needed. I believe most parents know that they can request that their children not read a book, participate in a unit, etc. if they inform the school.

Doug

August 4, 2010 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Doug, I sincerely thank you for discussing Google Apps with the rest of us. I know how incredibly useful it is because I am using this with my class as well (especially GoogleDocs ! ). I know how our activities have tremendously speedup because of this very cool resources. Everybody sharing files instantaneously in one spreadsheet still amazes me to no end.

August 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commentershorter college

I am exploring using Google Apps for Educators. Thanks for posting this letter.

I am curious which settings you used to block outside emails. Does this mean that teachers have mail accounts only for use with students via Goo Apps for Ed? And they have district accounts for other uses? Or did you figure out how to have teachers have access to the wide world, and prevent that for students?

jd

August 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjd

HI JD,

We are just in the process of setting up the student accounts, but my understanding is within Google we can restrict the accounts to allow on those within the domain to have access, not send email externally, etc.

Doug

August 9, 2010 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Parent permission is required (by Google) for any student younger than 13, which mean most 7th graders and below. Last year was our first year using Google Apps at Orono, and we did not have any parents who choose not to grant permission. We are adding email for our students this year, so it will be interesting to see if parent reaction changes. Fortunately, we did have several parents suggest last year that we add email, so I am hoping most parents will see the benefits of student email.

Last year we sent home the traditional paper permission slips to all 6th and 7th graders, but to ease collection and data input, we are actually going to use a Google form to collect parent permission this year. It will include a letter similar to this one, followed by a text box where parents will "digitally sign" their name to grant their child permission to use Google Apps.

August 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCaitlin Cahill

Hi Catlin,

I know that parental permission is required for the commercial GoogleMail accounts (or so I've been told). I've not read this about the education accounts that are only to be used within the school domain. I'll have to look for the language.

Thanks,

Doug

August 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

Doug:

We are have been using our version of "Spartan Apps" with teachers and some high school students since the spring. This fall we plan you open it up for all students 7-12 (and maybe younger). Your letters are excellent. Clear concise and to the point. I would also like to modify some for our use if possible.

I was in the process of looking for an "under 14" permission form to use the this fall when I noticed the comment from Catlin. I would tend to agree with you that this (parental permission) might not be an issue within a managed school domain like ours. Will be looking back here to see what you find out on that.

Have always respected the work that you do Doug. And you seem to have a good sense of humor

August 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJim Dieso

Doug,

Thanks for sharing the letter--we are implementing Google Apps for our staff and students this year and you have been a wealth of info throughout our planning process. I am curious about how you have things set up. Do you have a separate domain for staff and students? If so, how are you able to have students share documents with teachers but not the outside world. I've been unable to find a way around that without giving students the ability to share documents publicly. Would be nice if Google eventually adds a "white list" for approved domains to share documents between.

August 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMatt H

Hi Jim,

Thanks for the kind words.

I don't believe we need to get parent permission since we will use our GoogleApps with students only within our own domain - they cannot share documents, e-mail, chat etc with anyone outside of school.

I know of no resource that requires individual agreements by students when it is provided by the district. With GoogleApps, the district enters the agreement with Google, not the individual so parental permission is not needed. The permission is needed when young students want personal accounts with Google.

Hope this helps,

Doug

Hi Matt,

We are still in the process of setting up our GoogleApps for students, but the plan is to only have one domain. GoogleApps for Education can now configured for usergroups, each with its own set of permissions, restrictions, access, etc. I don't anticipate we will have problems sharing between staff and students if we are all in one domain.

I try to let blog readers know what we discover.

Doug

August 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

Hi Doug,

Thank-you for sharing your letter to parents. Our District is just starting to use Google Docs with students and your letters will be very helpful in working with parents and teachers.I also appreciate reading the different discussions concerning Google apps, domains, parental permission, etc as they reflect conversation we are currently having in-house and provide valuable insight.

Again, thank-you..

Martha

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMartha B

Hi Martha,

You are very welcome. It's always nice to know when something one has done is helpful. I appreciate the note.

Doug

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

Here in eastern Pennsylvania we have used a very slightly modified version of your letter as we roll out Google Apps for Education to our secondary students. I can't thank you enough for all that you share. In turn, we are helping neighboring districts as they follow our regional lead.

Thanks again!

September 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKurt

Hi Kurt,

I appreciate your e-mail. Made my day. Always great to know something I've written has been helpful.

Doug

September 16, 2011 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Hi Doug,
Last year we started with gmail accounts for our teachers and staff. This year it was converted into an education account and Google just increased our number of accounts so we are going to roll it out to our junior high students. I'm very excited to get them up and running so we can explore the Google Apps especially GoogleDocs.

With your permission, I would like to borrow from parts of your letter. We will ask our parents to sign a permission letter before venturing forward.

Thank you.

Eileen

March 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEileen

Hello Doug,
Thank you for sharing your letter. I am currently researching a letter to send out to parents in our district, and really appreciate seeing what you used.
Thank You,
Angie

February 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAngie

Thanks, Angie. Always nice to know one has been helpful. Pass it on.

Doug

February 15, 2013 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Hi Doug,
Thank you for sharing your letter. I plan to use bits and pieces from this letter to send to parents in my school district.
Thanks again!
Sangita

July 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSangita

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