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ValleyApps ValleyApps featured in the DNR

05/20/2010

ValleyApps was featured recently in the Daily News Record for our WeWantGoogle.com campaign. You can read the entire article below.

Migrating To ‘The Cloud'
Business Offers One School Free Setup Of Google Apps

By: Doug Manners

Image from the DNR

HARRISONBURG - Mike Vanderpool credits his students for helping encourage him to leave his teaching job at Harrisonburg High School and take the plunge into entrepreneurship. "They said, ‘Hey, you've got that talent, you should foster it,'" said Vanderpool, president of Vision Studios and ValleyApps. Four years later, Vanderpool wants to help ensure that students in Virginia have access to top-notch, up-to-date technology in the classroom. ValleyApps, a Google partner and reseller, is giving all K-12 schools in Virginia the chance to apply for a free deployment of Google Apps for Education. The company would also migrate old data over and train the school's IT staff at no cost. Nominations are being accepted through June 15 at www.wewantgoogle.com. Google Apps is a web-based application that handles e-mail, documents, storage and calendars. Sometimes called "cloud computing," it eliminates the need for a local server, reduces hardware and therefore, Vanderpool said, will hopefully free up school systems' budgets.

Costly To Convert

Google Apps provides schools with a free license. For businesses, the license costs $50 per year for each e-mail address. But converting to Google Apps isn't cheap, Vanderpool said, and that's why's his company is offering the promotion. Installing the product, migrating a school system's old data and training the IT staff can cost more than $15,000, he said. "Changing to a new system is a shock to your staff and to your faculty," said Vanderpool, a 2003 James Madison University graduate who worked as a technology education teacher at HHS from 2004 to 2006. "Someone needs to come in and deal with that." Vanderpool, 31, said he would take into account a variety of factors when choosing a winner from the applicant pool, including how easy migrating from the current system will be and the number of students and staff that would be using Google Apps. A native of Manassas, Vanderpool said he would like to provide the free service to a school in the Shenandoah Valley. "I think this area, and a little bit south, traditionally has been a two-year adoption time from all the technology filtering over the mountain from Northern Virginia," Vanderpool said. "I want to catch them up and this is the perfect vehicle to do so."

County Schools Not Convinced

Rockingham County Schools aren't likely to jump on board with the program, said Joe Hill, the system's director of math and technology. Hill said he doesn't envision the division moving toward Google Apps for Education unless the Mountain View, Calif.-based company changes the way it allows users to access the applications. County schools used some of the applications, Hill said, until Google changed the access capabilities earlier this year. "We don't allow students on open e-mail during the school day," he said. "Prior to a few months ago, we could allow access to all those features, but block [Gmail]. Now we can't." Aviva Gilbert, a Google spokesman, said the ability to manage applications has not been disabled. "They can use e-mail but not docs, or calendar and nothing else, or any combination of Apps within the Google Apps suite for their domain/county," Gilbert said. "Administrators have total control over that." Karen Campbell, instructional technology supervisor for Harrisonburg City Schools, said the system uses Google Docs, which allows users to create and edit web-based documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Campbell said that Skyline Middle School has expressed interest in deploying the Google Apps for Education program. Last month, Oregon became the first state to partner with Google Apps for Education in K-12 classrooms. Oregon estimated that it could save $1.5 million statewide. In the last two weeks, though, two universities - the University of Massachusetts and the University of California-Davis - announced that they would discontinue the Google Apps service, according to published reports. Hill said he plans to meet with Vanderpool in a few weeks to talk about Google Apps, but he doesn't foresee the service as being the best fit for the county school system. "I'm not as optimistic that we'll find as much there as what he would like us to use," Hill said.

Contact Doug Manners at 574-6293 or dmanners@dnronline.com