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OIT to provide more Google apps for students

Nicole Toczauer | Monday, December 6, 2010

The Office of Information Technologies (OIT) will flip the switch Dec. 21 to increase the number of Google applications at the fingertips of Notre Dame students.

Katie Rose, an OIT infrastructure specialist, said there have been many requests from students and faculty to increase the number of Google services linked with their University accounts. The top three requests were for Google’s Blogger, Picasa and Reader.

According to the Google Apps website, Picasa is a service for uploading and sharing photos, Blogger allows students to create their own blogs, and Google Reader offers users a faster way to access blogs and news feeds.

“Students will now be able to access services like Picasa and Blogger automatically with their ND accounts. I know Blogger has been requested a bit since a lot of classes use it for collaborative work,” she said. “And Picasa is popular in the arts and even some of the sciences because of the types of graphic work they do.”

Rose said students will benefit from the easy access they will have to these services once the change is made. In the past, students have had to sign up for separate accounts to work with these applications.

“There was just a core set of services originally. It had Gmail, which was the most popular, but we also had Google Calendars, Google Docs and Google Sites when we initiated it,” she said. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to add many of the other services before because that wasn’t part of what Google was offering initially.”

Google offers 60 services overall as part of its suite. With a commercial account, any user may access them. For Notre Dame and other academic institutions, however, Google offers a smaller set of services. Rose said requests for more Google services from these universities are common.

“A lot of other schools get similar requests and that gets sent back to Google from the Customer Advisory Board and other various online mechanisms,” Rose said.

Google has taken these requests and analyzed account management, she said. With the upcoming change, they hope to offer more services in the most effective manner.

“They are making an infrastructure change that will allow them to do all of these other services in one fell swoop,” Rose said. “That’s why it’s essentially happening all in one day here at Notre Dame.”

Rose said the change would most affect students who have signed up for commercial Google accounts using their Notre Dame G-mail address.

“There are approximately 3,600 that have conflict accounts. That means they made a commercial Google account with an ‘nd.edu,'” she said. “They need to take some steps to prevent problems. They won’t lose data, but they need to tie it with a different account.”

Rose said students who received an e-mail on their conflict account follow the directions provided to ensure a smooth transition.

OIT will adjust the system Dec. 21 to include the new services. Rose said they planned to make the change at this time to avoid conflicts with finals and the new semester in January.