Growing business into Africa with Google for Education
Google for Education is transforming education in even the most rural schools in southern Africa, helping teachers streamline admin and improve the learning experience at a very low cost.
This is according to Digicloud Africa, Google's chosen reseller enablement partner in Africa. Digicloud Africa CEO Gregory MacLenna says: “The COVID-19 pandemic was a catalyst for the adoption of cloud-based solutions for many rural schools in Africa. Now that schools have gone digital, they are finding more and more use cases and resources online to help them modernise education.”
Growing Google for Education adoption has enabled Radical Cloud Solutions, a Digicloud Africa partner and one-stop cloud solutions and IT management provider, to fast-track its growth into Africa. The company delivers a range of cloud and digital services for businesses and rolls out Google Workspace for Education in schools. Google is proving to be the ideal solution for schools challenged by a lack of financial resources, unreliable infrastructure and limited IT skills, the company says.
Radical Cloud Solutions COO James Houghton says: “Google Workspace for Education has enabled rural schools, with very little infrastructure, to take their teaching and learning environment to the next level."
Houghton says Radical Cloud Solutions is helping numerous Zimbabwean schools modernise and upgrade their systems with Google. “We find that many schools start with the free Fundamentals. It’s a powerful tool and schools typically come back to us saying they wished they had known about it sooner, and now they can’t live without it. It saves them time, improves efficiency and they can work offline and sync later if there is a power failure. Within 18 months, most want to upgrade. Individual teachers will champion the tools and play around with them, discovering new functionality,” he says.
“Importantly for schools, it is value for money. The first SKU out of the door is $3 per student per year, and no one else gives value for money in a consolidated package like that. It’s simple, cost-effective and downtime is non-existent.”
Radical Cloud Solutions builds on this transformation by looking at schools’ hardware, replacing Windows with Chrome packages to refresh and extend the lifespan of their old equipment.
ChromeOS Flex is a version of ChromeOS that is made to modernise a school’s existing devices. At no cost to download, ChromeOS Flex transforms existing devices and provides everybody with a unified, modern teaching and learning experience.
Google Workspace for Education is available as the free Fundamentals version, with a suite of secure collaboration tools including Classroom, Docs, Sheets, Slides and Forms; and communication tools including Google Meet, Gmail and Chat. Fundamentals also offers originality reports and simplifies marking and corrections. Google Workspace for Education Standard includes all the features of Education Fundamentals, as well as advanced security and analytics tools. The Teaching and Learning upgrade delivers enhanced video conferencing, enriched class experiences and tools to drive academic integrity and transform learning. It includes tools such as attendance tracking, Q&A, polls, transcription tools, live streaming to YouTube and breakout rooms, with ongoing improvements – such as the coming practice sets to transform existing content into interactive assignments. Google Workspace for Education Plus is a comprehensive edition that includes all the enhanced security features and tools from Education Standard, with the Teaching and Learning Upgrade, and additional features.
Houghton explains that Radical Cloud Solutions, first launched by his brother Mark Houghton 12 years ago, is enjoying exponential growth into Africa on the back of Google solutions, and with the support of Digicloud Africa. “We have grown into a one-stop cloud solutions provider for Africa, with a presence in South Africa, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Kenya and Zambia, and ambitious plans to scale up into five more countries in the short term. This growth has been enabled by the way Google operates in Africa – they are investing heavily in the continent, and we are at the forefront – surfing the Google wave that’s coming.”
Why Google? “Because it works,” Houghton says. “You never have customers calling to say something doesn’t work. It’s so intuitive that if you can use Gmail, you can learn to use all the tools and features. And it’s priced right for Africa.”
Google’s approach to supporting partners has also boosted Radical Cloud Solutions’ growth, Houghton says. “We see a big drive among customers to move to Google, and in this, we enjoy strong support from the likes of Digicloud and Google themselves. Their response times and turnaround times are amazing; and Googlers at the very top are willing to help out at the lowest levels – for example, support sales. If you have backing from the OEM, you can do anything, and give the best of the best service to the customer,” he says.