U-M prepares for spring rollout of Google Apps for Education
In preparation for the introduction of Google Apps for Education in the spring of 2012, NextGen Michigan has launched a new website, google.umich.edu, to assist students, faculty and staff in their transition to the new tools.
In addition to a large collection of training materials and special resources for administrative support and technology staff, the site will include:
• Detailed implementation schedules
• RSS feeds to subscribe to updates
• News and event announcements
• An extensive questions-and-answers section
"The site will be the central information hub for our move to Google," says Bill Wrobleski, who leads the effort. "We expect it to grow and adapt as the project progresses. As we get feedback from users, we'll learn more, and share that knowledge on the site."
The project will conduct two pilots prior to the rollout to campus. The first pilot will launch in January with a group of approximately 200 students, faculty and staff. The second pilot of about 1,500 participants will take place in February. Following successful completion of the pilots, NextGen expects to release the core suite of Google collaboration tools — including Docs, Sites, Blogger, and Talk — to all users on the Ann Arbor campus in early March.
At that time, students and U-M Online subscribers will be provided with a web tool that will allow them to move their email and calendar data into Google. They will have until August 2012 to complete the process. Beginning in May 2012, most remaining Ann Arbor faculty and staff will have email and calendar data moved into Google in several phases over the summer.
Due to various regulations on how restricted data is handled, U-M Health System Exchange users and some research groups will not switch to Google email and calendaring. Those users will be given access to the Google collaboration tools, though their use would also be subject to restricted data policies.
The Dearborn and Flint campuses will follow the Ann Arbor deployments. Dearborn will move to Google email, calendar, and collaboration tools. Flint will receive the collaboration tools, but has yet to finalize a decision about moving to Google email and calendar.
The move to Google is one of many projects being led by NextGen Michigan, a universitywide initiative for changing the university's information technology service approach and investing in "next generation" technologies.
"The university's adoption of Google Apps for Education supports U-M's leadership in teaching, learning and discovery by helping to improve collaboration across campus and beyond," says Laura Patterson, chief information officer.
A related NextGen project is U-M's recent partnership with Box, an online file sharing and storage service. That effort, announced in October, is completing its pilot phase and also is targeting a spring 2012 rollout pending further testing and evaluation.