New College faculty and staff switch to Gmail

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The transition from Microsoft’s Exchange 2003 e-mail service to the web-based Google Mail, also known as Gmail, began last week for New College faculty and staff members. The move, approved the Technical Advisory Committee in April, is slated for completion in January.

“We’d like to have the majority of everyone migrated by Christmas break,” Director of Technology Support Jeff Smith told the Catalyst. “That’s going to be mighty aggressive, so it’s probably looking more like a January time frame that it will be completed.”

The faculty e-mail overhaul comes two years after New College students were switched to Gmail. “Students were very excited, everyone was happy — the mailbox limits increased leaps and bounds,” Smith said. “Since we had great success when we moved the students to Gmail, we decided to start looking at that option for our staff and faculty as well.”

Google Mail will also improve upon the security software currently in use with faculty and staff email, with better spam filtering and enhanced “phishing” protection. “We’ve been using the Barracuda system and it’s a very well known system — however, it’s not as robust as the Google system,” Smith explained.

In addition to security improvements, Gmail also complies with Florida’s public records law concerning email. “Google has all the protection and security in place for HIPPA [Health Information Privacy Act] and FERPA [Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act] so they’re compliant with any regulations we have to abide by,” Smith said.

The transition will also give faculty and staff access to the roster of Google Applications currently available to students. “They can edit the spreadsheets, documents, presentations and forms,” Smith explained. “They can work on it together in real-time over the Internet so that’s something that we’re really excited about because it’s gonna offer just another tool for our students and faculty to collaborate on different projects.”

Another improvement being made to New College’s technical infrastructure is the development of a single sign-in system for Google Apps, NewCleis, NewDLE, Library applications and other online systems. The foundation for the single sign-on project was laid last week with a new login screen for Gmail. “It’s a new look and feel for the page and it’s going to enable us to grow with a single sign on and we’re going to end up putting all of our applications into it,” Smith said. “You log in one time, you have all your icons and just click where you want to go and you’ll be right there.” The unified login system is expected to be completed in February.

“We’re really looking forward to having a single sign on portal implemented,” Smith continued. “That’s just gonna be a great tool for everyone to enjoy and you’re not gonna have to remember separate passwords and logins for different systems which is gonna be very beneficial.”

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