Friday, May 08, 2009

UMass Amherst and Google Join to Offer Students Google Apps!

Undergraduates at the University of Massachusetts Amherst will return to campus after the summer break to find a new, but familiar, way of communicating—Google.

The Office of Information Technologies (OIT) at UMass Amherst is partnering with Google to launch “Google Apps at UMass Amherst,” a customized version of Google’s popular suite of online productivity and collaboration tools, including Gmail, designed especially for educational institutions.

Beginning in late summer, the university’s 19,000 undergraduates will be able to sign up for a Google Apps account, choose to have their official UMass Amherst e-mail delivered to Gmail, and start using the other tools in the Google Apps suite, including Google Docs, Google Sites, and Google Calendar.

Using Google Apps, students will have dramatically increased e-mail storage—7 GB and growing—and will be able to maintain their current official student.umass.edu e-mail addresses. They will also be able to collaborate on documents, spreadsheets and presentations in real time using Google Docs, easily create Web sites using Google Sites, and coordinate their schedules and events using Google Calendar.

“We decided upon Gmail and Google Apps after a study of options for an e-mail system to help us meet our rapidly growing needs and students’ expectations,” said John Dubach, special assistant to the chancellor and chief information officer. “Google Apps stood out because it offers cutting-edge technology and a high level of service. Because Google offers this service for free, we’ll be able to refocus our IT resources on other projects.”

For now, students will not be required to have their UMass Amherst e-mail delivered to Gmail. OIT will be gradually making the transition from UMail, the current e-mail system, to Gmail for undergraduate e-mail. Gmail will be the default e-mail system for undergraduates starting with those entering the university in spring 2010.

UMass Amherst joins other large research institutions, including Arizona State University, Northwestern University and the University of Southern California, that participate in the Google Apps for Education program.

OIT will be keeping the campus community informed as the project progresses using the project website (www.umass.edu/googleapps), e-mail and other communication channels.

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