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Google apps now available to UNI students

Published: Thursday, April 21, 2011

Updated: Thursday, April 21, 2011 18:04

The University of Northern Iowa is creating Google accounts for every student as a way to give them the opportunity to take advantage of the many programs offered by Google, including Google Calendar and Google Docs. This process will be implemented on Monday, April 25.

"The Google Applications for Education offers many tools for students that UNI is unable to match," said Steven Moon, director of information technology services. "The tool set is easier and better to use as a service rather than reciprocate. It adds to the quality of the educational experience."

Moon commented that this implementation is a result of President Benjamin Allen's creation of an information technology task force. Graduate students, faculty, representatives from the Northern Iowan Student Government and the Student Computer Advisory Committee, ITS members and administrators comprised the ad hoc committee, which was to look at cloud computing opportunities for students.

The task force researched various applications and then recommended Google Apps for Education to the UNI cabinet, which was then approved. Moon explained that this past spring the task force has been working on details for implementation, configuration, authentication and migration.

Starting April 25, every current student will have access to Google Calendar, Docs and Sites, while every incoming student, be they a transfer or freshman, will have the same access in addition to having his or her email account set up through Gmail.     

This summer or fall, the email accounts of current UNI students will start being converted to Gmail; the details and time frame of this process have yet to be finalized.

"I would also mention that forwarding to other emails will not be an option, as that is how we are going to be able to use Gmail," said Moon.  "Additionally, there will be no change in the email address; it will remain and for the authentication of identity, students will use their CatID credentials."

"Gmail can be used for email and instant messaging," Moon commented.  "Also, Google Calendar can be used for both personal and shared calendars.  Google Docs is used to create and collaborate on documents such as various school projects, and with Google Sites students can create collaboration sites with shared documents."

"I, personally, have never explored the possibilities Google offers beyond Google search," said Dusty Kriegel, a sophomore art major, "But I have recently learned the benefits these Google applications can present for organizations. (Residence Hall Association) is working on implementing them further for communication purposes."

Alicia Jessip, a freshman Spanish and electronic media double major, commented that while she was sure the move was probably the best for students and the university, she was a little concerned that she had not heard of it until now.

"Using MyUNIverse, something that was originally created by UNI, has been a great experience," said Rekopile Belebesi, a freshman electronic media major.  "I am also excited they have decided to work through Gmail, which as an already recognized email system, offers more features and flexibility."

"The current email system has a lot of problems and is not very user-friendly," commented Leanna Schreur, a sophomore psychology major. "Although I do not use Gmail, if I knew that all my professors and fellow students were using it, I would start.  Any system has to be better than what we have now."

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