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Maryland – Latest to Install Google Apps in Educational System

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Google has provided yet another service related to education. The search company has partnered with the Maryland Education Enterprise Consortium (MEEC) to make Google Apps for Education available to 1.4 million students in the state.

The deal with MEEC could put the Google Apps suite into each of the private and public institutions for higher learning, 24 public K-12 districts, and libraries across Maryland. MEEC is made up of the Maryland Higher Education Commission, Maryland Department of Education, and University System of Maryland, Baltimore County. The consortium provides services and software applications to its 194 members scattered all over the state.

In addition to getting access to Google Apps, the agreement also allows member institutions of MEEC (such as University of Maryland, Baltimore County or UMBC) to license Google Postini-powered message security services that protect messaging systems for staff, faculty, and students.

Maryland’s move isn’t the first time Google has closed a statewide deal. In fact, this is the fourth time the major search company struck a far-reaching agreement. The Official Google Enterprise Blog stated that Iowa, Colorado, and Oregon were under the same agreement to employ Google Apps in their education system. Additionally, over eight million other faculty members, staff, and students around the globe actively use Google’s collaboration suite and free messaging.

While the blog didn’t indicate the reason why Maryland has turned to Google Apps, it’s safe to assume that the move was for typical reasons, such as cost cutting of infrastructures and improving mobility for the busy and active student. According to Mike Carlin, UMBC’s assistant vice president of IT, students were extremely glad of the decision to use Google for the e-mail service can perfectly suit their mobile and active lifestyle.

The partnerships with the four states are major achievements for Google, considering that Microsoft recently closed deals with institutions that embraced the software giant’s cloud computing solutions.

Google Apps is one of the search company’s services where various customizable versions of Google products are available under one custom domain name. Among Google Apps’ Web applications are Gmail, Google Docs, Talk, Calendar, and Sites. The Standard edition has the same storage space as Gmail accounts and is free, while the Premier edition has more storage space and requires an annual charge. The Education edition, on the other hand, is a combination of both and has additional features designed primarily for students, staff, and faculty.