Over winter break, the student and faculty emails on campus will be converted from Microsoft Exchange to Google Apps.
Jennifer Wright, the Assistant Director of User Support and Learning Technology Services, said, “It offers a lot of advantages, both for students and for the institution. For students it means larger email inboxes, so it’s moving from 5-gigabyte to 25-gigabyte inboxes.” Wright added, “Google allows colleges to claim a domain and then within the domain we can create accounts, much like we do for Exchange, but it also offers us Google Docs, Google Spreadsheets, Google Forms.”
Up until now, only alumni had emails that consisted of “@smcm.edu” in Gmail. However, starting this spring, alumni, current students, and faculty alike will have their emails put into Google Apps. In addition to having access to Google Docs, Google Spreadsheets, and Google Forms, Google Apps will also offer a calendaring solution for campus. Wright said, “It allows us the ability to share calendars with groups, and the calendars have some features that Microsoft Exchange calendars don’t have, like the ability for faculty, for example, to set up a block of appointments and have students sign up.”
There has long been a need for electronic tools that allow for more efficient collaboration, and collaboration tools has been a large part of what Google has been dedicated to, for several years. Because of this dedication by Google, and the conversion to Google Apps, it will be easier to share electronic documents within a class or within committees and groups. Additionally, significant in the reasoning behind the conversion is that many students on campus are already familiar and comfortable with Google Apps, especially Gmail.