SOU embraces Google

Over the course of winter vacation, Southern Oregon University’s information technology crew introduced Google Apps for Education as the new campus emailing and communication system. Both staff and students seem to view this major technological change as a positive and progressive step in the right direction.

The changes began Dec.13 when students were able to access their new Gmail accounts, the first in a series of changes within the Information Technology department on campus.  The initial rollout also included Google Calendar, Docs, Sites and Google Talk.

SOU is boasting the switch as a “green” choice because by taking advantage of Google’s off-site data storage, the e-waste that is normally created by SOU cycling through outdated hardware will be eliminated. The IT department estimates the switch to Google will save the university roughly $2,500 a year in energy costs, and roughly $18,000 over the next three years in hardware expenses.

The new Google products mean students, faculty, and staff are saying goodbye to the old system of Novell NetMail, a significantly more basic email system that SOU had to pay licensing fees to use.

One new feature of the email system is the fast and easy to maneuver message archiving system which will allow students to view their sent messages.

IT Department System Administrator Andrew Krug highlighted additional problems with the old system, explaining that the IT department received an impossible amount of emails and phone calls each day pertaining to the difficulty users were experiencing in attempting to perform basic email account functions.

“Since the implementation of Google Apps for Education, we have had 29 calls from people with minor set-up questions”, said Krug. “This is a huge reduction, and most of the calls were about synching their g-mail accounts to their Blackberry, IPhone, or Windows phones, which is a good indication that people are taking advantage of the new features Google is offering.”

According to Krug, the most exciting aspect about the switch is the web-based word processor, which allows students, faculty and staff to collaborate and communicate in real time, where as with the old system, students and professors were working with two completely different systems.

“The best part of this is that students and faculty will be able to share the same communication experiences”, explained Krug.

Students can expect more changes in the coming months, including access to most of Google’s other apps, including Blogger and Google Voice.


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