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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Google e-mail has students, staff ‘feeling lucky'”

    Students and staff members at the UA are saying good-bye to what has been the e-mail standard for years, as they look at converting university email to Google.

    All students’ e-mail will be converted to the Google system by fall; however, the UA is still deciding if faculty and staff should be converted to the same system.

    Michele Norin, the chief information officer and executive director for University Information Technology Services, will investigate the main “”deal breakers,”” presented by staff after June 30, and decide if Google is the way the whole UA will go.

    The administration has been looking for new systems to convert to in recent months, because the current system is largely obsolete, they said.

    While other systems, such as Microsoft Exchange, have been considered, the UA is focusing on a $150,000 deal with Google, the least expensive option available to the UA.

    “”If they split and the faculty and staff go with something else, there will be a barrier between them and the students,”” said Tom Rees, associate director of UITS Frontline Services.

    The UA is offering what is popularly known as a “”Google Roadshow,”” where members of the campus community, who are involved with making the changeover happen, give a 10 to 15 minute presentation. A slide presentation is shown aiding the main focus of the meeting – telling people how Google works, how it will work for the UA and answering questions.

    “”The students want Google,”” said Hale Thomas-Hilburn, the principle computing manager for the humanities department. “”ASU has had it for a year; NAU is going for it, and we’re going for it.””

    “”The students are going to this. The faculty and staff have the opt-in option now to join them,”” added Gil Salazar, the principal support systems analyst for the educational communications and technology department.

    E-mail addresses and logging in will remain unchanged; it is only the Web site that will be different.

    If the UA decides to convert faculty and staff to the Google system, there will be many changes to all parties involved.

    The storage space in e-mail will be increased to 7.6 GB, an increase from the current 250 MB. Attachment sizes will double from 10 to 20 MB, and deleted e-mails can be recovered up to 30 days after deletion, instead of the 14 days set by the current system.

    Google will sync with Webmail to transfer over all contents currently held by users.

    Faculty and staff can choose to link up information with their alternative e-mail carrier. Google will copy all information and contents without replacing the original account.

    Some faculty said they are concerned with the switch from a folder system to a labeling one. Webmail currently has folders and subfolders, while Google labels emails and does not allow for sub-labeling. In the transfer of the systems, however, all items in folders will be labeled by the folder name, once they are in Google, so information is neither lost nor unorganized.

    E-mails between two people are recorded as “”conversations,”” or single threads, instead of separate emails under this new system.

    The other large change if switched, is the calendar application with Google, which will replace Meeting Maker. The calendar plugs in with all e-mail clients and syncs to the user’s Google account and mobile device wirelessly.

    Legal issues such as privacy were raised by those attending the Google Roadshow. Google currently reserves the right to look into e-mails on their system, however the education system, that Google has created for schools, will have a much different end user license agreement.

    The system at the UA will be considered intellectual property and will be

    maintained by Google but administered by the school itself.

    “”Try to keep in mind everything that’s going on now with policy will continue,”” Salazar said.

    “”The policies and legalities will be the same – no better no worse,”” Rees said.

    Communication would improve between teachers and students, as Google offers a chat option with the approval of teachers, Google representatives said.

    “”The Internet is moving in a new direction. Facebook and other social networks were targeted for younger audiences, and they’re now expanding,”” said Kristin Wisneski, a rangeland ecology and management graduate student who attended the roadshow session. “”If you’re not learning these new applications and tools, you’re falling behind.””

    In the end, officials are hoping the change will be appreciated and accepted by students and other members of the UA community.

    “”I’m hoping it will happen, because I believe it will be beneficial for students, faculty and staff,”” said Lisa Stage, a marketing specialist from the Office for Student Computing Resources.

    The last public information sessions will take place at 2 p.m. in Room 141 of the Manuel Pacheco Integrated Learning Center on June 18 and 19.

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