Google for Education is back in the spotlight, with two new features in hand: unlimited storage for anyone with a Google for Education account, and a search and archive tool for administrators. On September 30, it announced Drive for Education, a free counterpart to the premium business version of Google Drive, Drive for Work, which was released in June 2014.
With Google Apps Vault, designed to assist with compliance, administrators will be able to search through files within their school’s domain. “Vault fits on top of all Google Apps, so you can archive all the data flowing through--Drive files, docs, emails--and do searches across all of them for specific text strings,” Google Education Product Manager Ben Schrom tells EdSurge. “A school admin could use it to investigate abuse or bullying.”
Previously, the archiving and discovery tool was available to schools for a price. But now it is available at no cost. “We’re including it out-of-the-box because more and more schools see it as a necessary add-on,” explains Schrom.
With the updates, administrators will also be able to track the activity of a file, a new Vault capability. “Within Google Docs, administrators have the ability to go through the history and activity of what happened in a document--when it was created, who deleted it, on what certain day,” says Schrom. He stresses that the searching and tracking capabilities will only be available to a school’s administrator, and not to teachers, students, or other users of Google for Education. In terms of file safety, “we’re now encrypting all Drive files from your device to Google, and also in transit between Google data centers,” Schrom assures.
Google for Education also introduced an infinite amount of storage. Previously, all Google Drive users received 30 gigabytes of storage. Now, “there’s no limit,” says Schrom. (An individual file can as large as five terabytes, so presumably a teacher could upload the entire human genome for his or her 25-student class.)
“We got a ton of feedback about having to worry about storage, of whether [a teacher] can put all these student presentations on Drive and still have enough space,” explains Schrom. “Our response wasn’t to figure out exactly how much storage we should give, but to make this worry a thing of the past.”
Drive for Education comes on the heels of Google Classroom’s full release. Schrom sees the two as “very complementary.” He explains, “every file that you use in Classroom is shared in Drive, so by bulking Drive up, it only improves Classroom.”
Indeed, Schrom envisions Drive for Education as the next step in a transition towards a truly Google school experience. “Classroom has eliminated paper in the classroom,” he says. “And by eliminating storage limits, we hope to make it second nature to live in the Cloud and in Google Apps.”