Email: What System Should CPS Choose?

Everyone loves to complain about FirstClass (though me, I just want someone to pass along juicy tidbits from it).  For previous discussions, see here and here and here. Now there's some (completely unverified) news from a friendly reader about a possible replacement coming down the line that supposedly comes from the CPS internal page:  "CPS is Getting a New E-mail System! In spring 2011, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) will be on a unified e-mail system! Currently, schools use FirstClass and administrators use Exchange. However, to save the district more than $500K per year, CPS will move to one of the leading free e-mail and collaboration suites: Google Apps or Microsoft Live... Employees that use Outlook won't see a big difference. Both systems will work in Outlook, just like Exchange does. But there's the added benefit of a strong web-based interface and the new ability to save and share documents. Evaluations will occur in October, and a decision will be made by the end of the year. We'll provide more information as it becomes available." (From its.cps.k12.il.us internal site. )

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  • I responded to this request for 1,000 evaluators, too. I have not heard back from CPS. (By the way, the return address in this e-mail was constructed improperly. That's why your e-mail didn't go through. Brilliant, huh?)

    Ditching FirstClass is a great idea and it will save a good deal of money. I'm all for it. I'm shocked it took them so long and I'm a little surprised it will only save $500,000. The answer - Google or Microsoft - isn't as obvious as the Google geeks or the Microsoft nerds among us might think. Both systems have strengths and weaknesses.

    If CPS wants to utilize either setup for anything beyond e-mail they're going to have to invest in significant upgrades in technology in CPS. Collaboration requires access to computers. Large numbers of schools don't have enough computers for teacher access much less student access. My school has about 250 computers for 3,000 students and teachers. Many of our classes are too big to fit into a computer lab. Very few of our students have computers at home. The computers at school are really tricked out if they have 500MB of RAM. Most have 256 or even 128.

    I'm excited about CPS finally gearing up to move out of the early-90s. What really shocks me is that the Board is asking for actual input from teachers and school based personnel: Who are you and what have you done with the real CPS???

  • Teachers were told that we were only to use First Class for work communications and correspondence with students and parents.

    Yes I tried in vain to do web publishing on FC. It was really easy on google sites. As far as correspondence about behavior, etc., I use FC but I know there are many more like me who do not use a CPS service for uploading and linking.
    Now if we could just get them to scrap gradebook...

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