Groupware is “Atlas the Titan” Holding Your World

Atlas the Titan
Atlas held the world quietly. One slip or shrug and everyone would suffer. Yet no one knew or even considered his presence. He was the ultimate backend process.

Like the concept of a single entity keeping the world balanced, Groupware keeps organizations working. Most people never even think about the term Groupware. As defined by something other than Wikipedia, Groupware is Software that supports multiple users working on related tasks in local and remote networks. Also called collaborative software, groupware is an evolving concept that is more than just multiuser software which allows access to the same data. Groupware provides a mechanism that helps users coordinate and keep track of ongoing projects together ~ PC Magazine.

Groupware is communication. It is email, shared calendars, project planning and tracking, discussion groups/forums, etc. It is the core system that connects people in an organization.

Many schools now are using Google Apps for Education as their Groupware. It is basically free, and works well. Google Apps is not available everywhere so not always an option.

Microsoft also has various plans for school using their Office 365 package and some other tech. There are free and paid versions of the MS solutions.

Then there is the very common Microsoft Exchange Server, which people often think is Microsoft Outlook; not understanding the difference between the server and the client. Exchange server can easily cost a medium sized organization $30,000 – $50,000 USD a year. Yes, per year.Novell and IBM both have solutions, and both are expensive.

Cloud Options like Microsoft Exchange in the Cloud and Zoho Office with Email cost about $4.00-$8.00 per user a month. For those of you who hate math that is about $24,000 USD a year for 500 users- the low end of that range.

Opensource you ask? Good luck. I found one that was fairly well reviewed and looked promising, SOGo. SOGo was not well documented really. It was fair, but basically left me realizing that I would need a person working on it all the time. So the software is free, but the level of human capital would be very high and could cost an additional salary.

Firstclass was also on the list. I know of many schools that use it. Firstclass had the best pricing model for the feature set. The only real issue is that Firstclass has it’s own clients. So people need to transition from MS Outlook, which they currently believe is Groupware, even though there is no server behind it running anything other than email.

Not many affordable options, but there is no option to not have the Groupware. I have been witnessing a medium sized organization running without any Groupware. A Google Apps for Education campus, or a campus powered by Exchange Server, feels like a different universe compared to a campus that is missing this core software infrastructure.

Having only the one tool, email, is just not efficient. Many people in environments running decent Groupware take it for granted. They will often emote, “I only need email.” What they do not realize is that email is probably just their main notification medium. They are using other software that is nicely integrated so the email client allows them to make choices and join activities, but the email it self is doing very little.

I wish companies like Novell and IBM actually has some educational pricing that made since for their Groupware. I also am annoyed that Apple does not have an Education Server that comes with all these services PLUS easy to use i-Device management, laptop management, and App Store deployment. With all the equipment Apple has in schools, you would think they would want some of the Groupware market and server market. I know that for large companies Apple does not have what they need to power their collaboration and high-end applications.

That being said, schools need solutions that focus on simple collaboration, media sharing and streaming, basic cloud support for storage, and a semi-turnkey approach to hardware. Isn’t that what Apple is all about in each of their individual product lines?

The only other player in the market that could crack the Groupware issue and device management issue is Canonical. Their Ubuntu server is pretty easy to run and has the tools needed for easy management of media, normal files, and Groupware. They just need a package that ships with something like SOGo preconfigured. In fact, they should join up with some open hardware companies, or a normal market player like Dell and sell a configured server for schools. Crazy right? A company making money and filling a need at a reasonable price.

Bringing this all back to Atlas the Titan, there is a quote from the book Atlas Shrugged that makes me think about the supply and demand of resources for education,

If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders – What would you tell him?”

I…don’t know. What…could he do? What would you tell him?”

To shrug.” 

Maybe we just need a Kickstarter.

Tony DePrato

Mike Daisey and a tough question


If you haven’t heard of Mike Daisey let me give you a quick synopsis. He is an author, actor and play write. He has been in the news lately for a monologue that he wrote and performs called The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs. You can download the entire monologue from his blog here. The monologue talks about his love of Apple products and about where these wonderful devices come from: the Foxconn factories in China. In 2010 Mike went to Chine to learn more about these factories and part of his show is about his experiences. He recounts his conversations he has had with workers (young and old) about the terrible conditions in the factories, how they hire children to work and how the work can cause serious health risks.

There is a problem though folks. Read on past the break to learn what ethical issues Mike has stepped into here.

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Apple’s iCloud

Come and GET IT NOW!


Our good friend, and Mac enthusiast, Paulo has found a way for you to get Apple’s new iCloud service right now. In case you are wondering iCloud is Apple’s new cloud storage area where your iTunes, App store, email, and bunch of other stuff will be stored. Read Gizmodo’s overview of what iCloud is and be sure to check out Apple’s own info here. At any rate, it doesn’t officially kick off until this fall, but Paulo has found a way that you and I can get it right now. The steps below have been created by Paulo himself. All you need is a current MobileMe account. Read on and let us know what you think.

Want cheaper Mac software?

Look in the App store-but DON’T BUY IT FROM THERE!


The App Store on your Mac is a great place to find new software. It’s easy to browse, it’s easy to check out the features, it’s easy to buy, and it’s easy to install. It sounds like the App Store has it all, but wait! You may be able to find that much needed software cheaper than what Apple is offering it. How you ask? Read on past the break to find out how AND to see proof.

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Gradequick – Arrrrgghhhhh!


Image by Phaitoon: Photoshopped by Patrick Cauley

I am a frustrated educator. I mean, I am really, really frustrated. If you could see me right now . . . well you would see me typing, but pretend I am wringing a towel out of utter frustration. I’ve never been a big fan of GradeQuick but have been forced to use it. If you want to find out why this program has angered me read on past the break and if you’re a GradeQuick user yourself please read on and leave your own opinion below.

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My lesson plans are on my desk


For about 8 months I’ve been scouring the Internet for a free, easy to use, attractive, and easy to share lesson planning program. It didn’t matter to me if I could download it or use it online. I found only disappointment in my search (cue sappy violins). Then I came across this eHow article by Heidismiles (that’s her eHow username people) about how iCal can be used as a lesson planner. While this is far from perfect, it had more or less what I was looking for and beat the socks off the competition in my opinion. While Heidismiles’s guide is not bad, I felt it lacked some pictures, so I’m going redo it and throw in a video to boot! Read on past the break to see how iCal can be leveraged to help YOU out with your lesson planning.

PS iCal is only on Mac computers and the glorious video is at the bottom of the post

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