When students return to school next fall, many things around campus will be different. An addition to the campus will be the new residence hall and dining hall, but what students aren’t anticipating is the change to the email system. Starting next semester, all University of West Georgia students, faculty and staff will change over to Gmail, an email service run by Google.
Staff members at the Information Technology Services (ITS) office have been holding trial runs with “early adopters”, composed of faculty and staff, to ensure a smooth transition. “We’ve migrated our core ITS people, so about 60 people, and our “early adopters”, about 180 users, and now we’re moving forward with our faculty and staff,” said Dale Driver, Lead IT Project Manager. “By the time we get to students, we will have done this plenty of times. The transitions will actually be easier for students.”
In March, the “early adopters” gained access and tested the new system to try to fix any problems. Faculty and staff had a harder time switching because they use their account for more than just emailing, unlike students.
Throughout the semester, faculty and staff have attended workshops to help them transition easier. ITS is not holding workshops for students since they will only have to change where they sign in online. “For faculty and staff, we had to consider what computer they’re using and what kind of client. Students basically sign into myUWG to check their email messages,” said Driver. “This will be easier for students because if they have an iPhone, or whatever mobile device, they can configure it by going to Gmail. They enter their email address and password and it’s done.”
Students and staff will have their own UWG ID, which will link them to their email and the wireless network on campus. This will not change D2L as of yet. ITS is working on signing a contract where the UWG ID will become student’s sign-in to D2L as well, connecting everything through one username.
Switching to Gmail will hopefully alleviate some problems and miscommunications between students and their professors. “We have two separate email systems. We have one for the students and we have one for the faculty and staff. Our one for our faculty and staff was antiquated and we were having a lot of problems with it,” said Driver.
Students will hopefully adapt more easily to the new email system since many already use Gmail. “On our student side, they preferred using other providers so we basically wanted to improve our services and make it to where students are more comfortable using their email. Google was a natural selection for us.”