With e-mail tools and on-line collaboration services continuously improving in quality at a high rate of speed, Colorado State University has partnered with Google to significantly enhance these services for students.
Google Apps for CSU, which is now available, provides communication tools such as e-mail and chat as well as the ability to share documents, spreadsheets, presentations and calendars with others. The implementation of this program follows the current trend in higher education institutions to outsource e-mail and collaboration services, providing the opportunity to free up resources for other important and pressing technology initiatives.
Google Apps, essentially Gmail with a few differences, will remain completely ad-free for current students, faculty and staff.
The choice of Google Apps was a decision made by students on the University Technology Fee Advisory Board. They studied outsourced communications suites by Microsoft and Google during fall semester 2007 and chose Google as the best fit for the university. A pilot program was used during spring semester 2008, and the UTFAB voted to make Google Apps available at the beginning of fall semester 2008.
The Google Apps suite includes a robust user interface (Gmail), large quotas of seven gigabytes, personal, shared and public calendars, integrated chat, shared files and a template-based website creation. With the inclusion of these features, the two primary goals of the program include moving services supplied by the undergraduate server "simla" – also known as "holly" – to Google servers and providing the campus community the ability to collaborate electronically with a number of integrated applications. Faculty also may subscribe to Google Apps for CSU, allowing them to effectively collaborate with students.
"We are certainly encouraging ‘simla’ users to sign up for Google Apps this fall," said Rusty Scott, associate director of Academic Computing & Networking Services at Colorado State. "Students who do not move their account to Google Apps will be mass-migrated during the winter break."
Google Apps is now available for all students on an opt-in basis at the website mail.rams.colostate.edu. Upon subscribing, users will be given two e-mail addresses in association with their Google Apps account: firstname.lastname@example.org and First.Last@rams.colostate.edu.
E-mail addresses for "simla" users (email@example.com and First.Last@colostate.edu) will deliver mail through May 2009, but only "rams.colostate.edu" addresses will be valid after that date.
"With the implementation of the Google Apps for Education, students can access these new services through a Web browser, enabling them to collaborate in new ways and store and organize large amounts of information," Scott said.
All websites currently on the "simla" server will remain available through May 2009. Google Apps will allow students to use the template-based features, but those requiring more flexibility in Web page creation should investigate local resources offered by their college. For faculty, staff and graduate students who opt into the Google Apps program, accounts on "lamar" or the central Exchange system will remain unaffected.
Through the Google Apps for Education program, the university will be able to provide e-mail to students after they graduate and will allow existing alumni to join the program. The program for the alumni rollout will be available by the end of the fall 2008 semester. While Google Apps will be ad-free for all people currently associated with the university, alumni accounts will include Google contextually-targeted ads.
For more information, visit mail.rams.colostate.edu.