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The Maryland Education Enterprise Consortium (MEEC) announced today that it will make Google Apps for Education available to the 24 K-12 school districts, libraries, and all higher ed institutions in the state.
This means Maryland's 1.4 million students join those in Oregon, Colorado, and Iowa, states that have all recently moved to the Google's cloud-based educational suite of apps.
Google and Microsoft are in a fierce competition for school districts and universities to commit to their cloud-based email, storage, and document storage/collaboration offerings. Microsoft just announced last month that the 85,000 students at the University of Georgia were moving to its education-in-the-cloud service, Live@Edu.
It's notable, perhaps, that higher education students play a strong role in these sorts of university infrastructure decisions. That was the case at the University of Georgia. And it was the case at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), the lead institution in the MEEC in the push for Google adoption. Google cited Mike Carlin, UMBC's Assistant VP of IP saying that the students support for Google was a reflection of its compatibility with "their modern lifestyle."
But no mater the application package that students prefer, schools are moving to the cloud. Whether it's via the cloud-based communication and collaborative tools that Microsoft and Google offer, or with a variety of small edtech companies with software or platform-as-a-service offerings, back-to-school is going to be to-the-cloud for many school teachers and districts.