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Student Email Will Shift to Google Apps for Education


By Kathleen Sullivan | Chronicle Staff

Published: Feb. 17, 2011

Information Technology Services has announced that Boston College student email services will move to Google Apps for Education, with a pilot group of a thousand students beginning the transition next month and full migration expected by summer’s end.

With Google Apps for Education, administrators say, students will retain an email address while improving their email experience with a web-based system that offers significantly more storage space and a full suite of integrated services, such as a calendar function and document creation.

The selection of Google Apps for Education was made after a lengthy review by the Student Email Committee, comprised of members from key academic and administrative areas as well as undergraduate and graduate student representation.

“The collaborative effort this committee brought to bear on this project was fantastic, second to none,” said ITS Support Technology Director Scott Cann.

BC joins a growing list of universities using Google for student email, including Brown, Georgetown, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame and Michigan.

Faced with inadequate storage and poor performance and vendor support with its current student email system, ITS administrators made the decision in 2010 to reconsider student email at BC. Although students are gradually turning to other means to communicate with each other, email is still the primary way that BC faculty and staff communicate with students. The committee determined that a reliable email system that retains a BC address for students was a necessity. After exploring various options, the committee selected Google.

“We’re very excited,” said Cann. “This move will bring to students the power of Google in a BC wrapper.”

With Google, communications between faculty and staff and students, including via class lists and campus groups, will continue to work as they do now. Cann noted that since many students already use Gmail, he expects the transition to be seamless.

Any concerns about security and privacy have been addressed as well, said Cann. Because many universities use Google for student email, FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) issues have already been addressed by Google. There also is no advertising on Google Apps for Education. “We’ve done due diligence regarding the contract,” said Cann.

He emphasized that students with email issues in the new system can still contact the Help Desk for assistance. “We’re ready and available to help.”

He added that at this time, there are no specific plans to move faculty and staff email to Google Apps for Education.

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