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Brown U Expanding Use of Google Apps

IT support at Brown University is spending the summer migrating its campus community to Google Apps for Education. The university projected that the move could save a million dollars a year.

In fall 2009 the Providence, RI campus provided Gmail e-mail service to its 6,000 undergraduate students. That service also included calendaring, instant messaging, and document storage. Now faculty, staff, graduate students, and medical students--potentially another 6,900 people--will be moved to the free service. The university reported the migration from Microsoft Exchange to Google is expected to be done in July 2010. At the time of this reporting, about 3,900 account migrations had been completed.

In a blog post published on the Google Web site, Geoff Greene, director of IT Support Services, wrote, "Our students were really the ones that led us down the Google path. They knew these tools would work because they already used them in their non-school lives. We also decided to go this direction because of the functionalities that we believe will bring our university together, namely tools like collaborative documents, better e-mail (with nearly 30 times the storage space we had with our previous system!) and video chat."

The "icing on the cake," he wrote, is "that we signed a zero dollar contract for all these top-notch tools."

Each user will have a 7.4 GB quota versus the 200 MB quota in place previously. A letter from the provost also cited as a benefit the ability to send attachments up to 25 MB in size.

The campus is hosting a "roadshow" to demonstrate functionality for the new Web-based services. It has also begun holding training sessions customized for each campus group or department. Plus, it has enlisted "Google Guides"--staff and students who have volunteered to help others make the transition to the new programs.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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