Date of Award

5-9-2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Communication Studies

Department

Communication Studies

First Advisor

Renée Hobbs

Abstract

Many institutions of higher education are accelerating efforts to implement technology in support of the learning process. This research paper examines the adoption of Google Apps for Education (GAFE) by the University of Rhode Island (URI). GAFE is a suite of cloud-based integrated communication and productivity applications and Google is offering this software platform to educational institutions and nonprofits free of cost. The GAFE product has many options to consider when deployed within the university setting and the university’s technical personnel are the first to encounter configuration choices that affect the functionality and usability of GAFE's software’s design. Interviews with the professional personnel responsible for deploying GAFE at URI were conducted to explore each staff member’s experience in planning and deploying the product at the University. The university's technical personnel are asked questions that investigate their roles and responsibilities in the GAFE deployment project, inquire into the goals, accomplishments, complications, perceived affordances, disappointments and business model reasoning concerning the adoption of GAFE, as well as explores the influence using the GAFE product has on communications behavior. This research paper correlates the principles recommended in the National Education Technology Plan (NETP, 2016) with GAFE functionality by providing examples of how NETP's recommendations may apply to the adoption of GAFE at an institution of higher education, including the topics of productivity, risk management, teaching, learning, collaboration, Internet presence, twenty first century skills development, and communications activity in the digital learning environment.

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