I got an email in my inbox today announcing that the university will be transferring all taught students’ email accounts to Google Apps for Education (also previously discussed on Chris Sexton’s blog). As is fairly standard, university email has until now been handled in-house. I’ve never had any problems with it: it’s reliable, and the webmail interface (based on Horde Imp) is clunky but dependable.However, it’s never compared with either the interface or the storage available with Google Mail. As soon as Google enabled POP3 download I set that up and I’ve never looked back. I think it’s great that the university is outsourcing its email to Google, and this is going to mean a major improvement in the student experience; after all, most students use email as instinctively as breathing these days.
It seems to be a win for everyone. Google gets a whole generation of students exposed to more of its products. The university gets email services for free while allowing its support staff to concentrate on doing the stuff they specialise in: supporting the institutions educational and research needs.
My one issue so far is that this change is currently only affecting taught students. Research students and staff will still be on the old system for a while yet. I can understand that some staff, at least, will be more resistant to this change than the students, who are with us for a few years at most. I also know a number of staff who, like the students, don’t like the current system because it’s a bit dated and awkward to use at times. It looks like I’ll be sticking with my own GMail account for now, but the transfer to Google Apps for staff/research students certainly gets my vote.