Gmail transition underway

 Due to requests from the board of directors and the continued malfunctions with the e-mail server, the Information Technology department has announced a transition from the University’s current e-mail server to Google’s system, Gmail. 


The complete system, Google Apps Education Edition, offers students and faculty numerous tools for online correspondence and relieves the IT department of the costs and maintenance of running an in-house server.


“We had talked about it over the summer … but the problems in the fall really crystallized the plans,” Administrative Computing Director Mike Sanker said.


The transition will begin on Feb. 1 with a small pilot group made up of students and faculty chosen by the Student Development office. During the transition, all new e-mails will be sent to the Google server and students will be able to use a tool to transfer old messages to the new site. 


With the previous server, students only had 10 megabytes of storage. With Gmail, they will have access to 7,000 megabytes, meaning that warning messages, like “account is over quota” when professors send large files such as powerpoints, will be a thing of the past.


Gmail also has a “threaded messaging” feature that keeps all messages from an e-mail correspondence in one place so users can easily track back to the original messages and all replies. 


During the transition, e-mail addresses and passwords will remain the same, but Sanker said IT is looking into a “strategy for password management” that would allow students to create their own password.


In addition to Gmail, the new system includes GoogleCalendar, GoogleDocs and GoogleTalk.


“There’s a lot of tools and hopefully the training will help people and change the way people share documents,” Sanker said. 


GoogleCalendar is a web-based calendar that allows users to share schedules, meetings and events with others. 


GoogleDocs represents a space where users can create and share documents, spreadsheets and PDFs. This feature will help students complete group projects because they will all be able to see the documents at the same time while working from their personal computers. 


Sanker is unfamiliar with the GoogleTalk feature, but it is described as offering free PC-to-PC voice calls and instant messaging.


E-mails will be sent to students and faculty with updates on the transition and training for GoogleApps. Sanker said IT is also working on a Web site that will hold all this information, including training documents and webinars.


If students have any questions about the transition, they can ask the IT department through their Facebook group, Eastern University Computing, or call the office at ext. 5821. 

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