Gmail to Replace GroupWise
Wednesday, April 6th, 2011
For years, students and faculty have complained that the meager storage and archaic interface of the GroupWise email platform that the university currently uses is inadequate. The switch is part of a broader "Service Improvement Initiative" by Van Zandt. "In my discussions with the community, several specific areas of concern emerged," he wrote in a March 11 email to New School faculty and staff. "For some of these, we are committed to improving in the very near future if not immediately." The switch in email platforms is one of the first aspects of the initiative to be implemented.
"GroupWise is clearly not meeting our needs for usability, storage capacity, and cross-university collaboration," the president added.
Also included in Van Zandt's initiative is a move to streamline the process of faculty and staff reimbursements, and more long-term goals like integrating academic infrastructure and improving career services.
Last year, the New School department of information technology surveyed students about their email needs and determined that the switch was necessary.
"The results confirmed that our current e-mail and calendering system, GroupWise, generally does not provide the storage, communication, and collaboration functionality needed by students at the New School," Jennifer Smith, Director of Project Management in the Department of Information Technology, wrote in an e-mail to the New School Free Press.
With students and teachers increasingly communicating and sending assignments by email, many students find their inboxes filled quickly, and are unable to use them until messages are deleted.
Gmail will come as part of the larger set of services within Google Apps for Education which is similar to the standard Google Apps that is available to the public, but optimized for university use.
Student email addresses will stay the same, and will still log in through MyNewSchool.
The most noticeable change is that Gmail will provide about 120 times more storage than GroupWise. Students will have more than seven gigabytes of online storage, as opposed to the 62 megabytes currently available.
Another important feature is that Google Apps for Education is free. Smith said that operating costs for email support services will not change significantly, but that "the university will see some expense reductions associated with software licensing, servers, and storage."
How much the shift will save is not clear. The university's licensing deal with Novell includes other services, such as print management that the university will continue to use. "The software costs are all-encompassing for these products and there is not a price tag for GroupWise, per se," wrote Smith.
Google Apps for Education will not be replacing Blackboard, which may be in part because no faculty needs are different; the processes of searching for a new email program for faculty and students were separate.
Until a decision is made, faculty and staff stuck with GroupWise will have to find a way of coping with inbox-envy.
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