1.    What is Google Apps for Education?
Google Apps for Education is an integrated, cloud-based communication, collaboration and creation tool. It includes a collection of applications that work together seamlessly in a cloud-based environment, allowing users to share and access files anywhere, anytime and on any device over the internet.

Users within the Nova Scotia public education system domain (gnspes) have approval to use the following core applications within Google Apps for Education:
  • Gmail
  • Drive (docs, sheets, slides, forms, drawings)
  • Sites
  • Calendar
  • Contacts
  • Groups
  • Classroom
  • Hangouts
For a full list of approved applications and tools within the gnspes domain, go to the Privacy page.
2.    Why Google Apps for Education?
After a year-long evaluation, a committee with representation from all regional school boards and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development recommended Google Apps for Education as the best cloud based solution for teachers and students within a P-12 environment. Many factors contributed to this decision including, but not limited to: 
  • real-time collaboration 
  • user friendliness 
  • ease of sharing capabilities
  • unlimited storage
  • platform neutrality (android, iOS, Windows)
  • less technical support and administration required
  • confidence in Google's long history of providing cloud application services
  • support and sharing from a large online community of educational users
Google Apps for Education was seen as providing the best overall user experience and a simplistic approach that will help keep the focus on learning outcomes rather than technology tools.

3.    Who can receive a Google Apps for Education account in the gnspes domain?
Google Apps for Education is being implemented provincially.  Teachers, students, and staff in all regional schools boards, as well as staff at the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development can receive an account in the gnspes domain for educational purposes.

A Google Apps Planning (GAP) committee has been established with representation from all school boards, the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and the provincial government Chief Information Office (CIO).  The committee will look at global decisions to be made about the domain, initial set up, short and long range plans and needs of school boards and users.   

4.    When will Google Apps for Education be available at my school or board?  
A multi-year implementation plan for Google Apps for Education began during the 2014-2015 school year. Each school board will determine when components of Google Apps for Education will be made available to students, teachers and staff based on their current environment and unique needs. To learn more about a school board's implementation plan, contact the appropriate Google Apps for Education Administrator.

5.    Am I required to switch to Gmail to access Google Apps for Education?
No. You are not required to switch from your current work/school email, however you will need to have a Gmail address to access your Google Apps for Education account. Your account will be created within the provincial domain (gnspes) and your Gmail address (xxxx@gnspes.ca) will be required to log in, share and collaborate within Google Apps for Education.

6.    I have my own Gmail account already, can I just use it instead?
No.  Google Apps for Education is different from a personal Google Apps account.  There are privacy and security differences, the Nova Scotia public education system has its own domain (gnspes) which will allow for proper management of users, and school boards only have permission from a privacy perspective to use Google Apps for Education for educational purposes.  There is also no advertising within Google Apps for Education.

7.    How do students get set up with a gnspes account?
Students can access their account by using the following instructions.  If you have difficulty accessing your account contact your Google Apps for Education Administrator.

8.    What's the difference between using Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari as my browser for Google Apps for Education?
While Google Apps for Education does not require Chrome, some services and features do rely on it to function. Examples would include offline access to Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Sheets and Slides, as well as desktop notification for Gmail.  Google Apps for Education will work with alternate browsers with slightly diminished features.  For a list of supported browsers, ghere.  Chrome also provides the ability to sign-in to the browser, allowing users to access their apps, bookmarks, extensions and other web settings on any device. 
9.    Will Google Apps for Education replace Ourcloud and nspes email?
At this time there is no plan at the provincial level to replace OurCloud or the nspes email address with Google Apps for Education.  To learn more about your school board's Google Apps for Education implementation plan, contact your respective Google Apps for Education Administrator.

10.    Is my information safe in Google Apps for Education?
Google uses industry-standard technologies and processes to safeguard user information, and maintains several third-party certifications with respect to security and privacy. Some of the security features Google has in place include:
  • spam and virus filtering
  • constantly developing new security-related features for its services
  • conducting significant independent audits and certifications of their security practices
  • data replicated in multiple data centers for redundancy and consistency availability

Based on the completed privacy impact assessment, user data can be expected to be at least as secure as it would be in any well-managed data centre. For more information about Google's Security practices check out their Security and Privacy site and review the Google for Work Security and Compliance Whitepaper.