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Google explains Apps on pit stop

Becky Hogan | Thursday, October 2, 2008

With the switch to Google Apps service for student e-mail accounts earlier this semester, students have been able to do more than just send and receive e-mails – and the Google bus made a special trip to campus Wednesday as part of its “App to School” road trip to help students learn about these new features.

“The Google bus has been on its way around the country, visiting 10 schools since Sept. 8, starting out in Mountain View, Calif.,” said Mirriam Schneider, associate marketing manager for Google Apps. The bus’s trek across the country will end at Northwestern University on Friday.

Schneider said that “tons” of students stopped by to check out the 1978 eco-friendly bus, and learn about the additional features that Google Apps offers. In addition to the Gmail service, students also have access to other applications such as Calendar, Docs, Talk and Sites.

At the bus, which parked near Notre Dame Stadium’s northwest corner, students could explore the applications on computers.

Schneider and her team showed students how to use applications on Google Apps by visiting google.com/apps/students.

“It’s a great Web site that gives an overview of the products which are all linked to student’s ND accounts,” Schneider said. “A lot of students are familiar with the e-mail application and are already aware that Notre Dame has switched over its [student e-mail] accounts, but many students are not aware of other tools they can use like Docs, the collaborative word processing application.”

Senior Mei-Kay Wong, who visited the bus, said she has been using many of the Google Apps features including Calendar, Docs and Spreadsheets.

“I sometimes use Docs and Spreadsheets when I’m using another computer,” she said.

Wong also said that she uses G-chat frequently because she can chat and check her e-mail at the same time. However, she explained that the Google chat utility is not easier to use compared to other chat utilities such as AOL Instant Messenger or MSN Instant Messenger.

“It’s not really easier to use because you have to manually invite people to chat with you the first time,” Wong said.

The Google team also used the trip to campus to make students aware of a new application called “Forms” which is their newest application and will allow students to send surveys out through e-mail and get quick responses.

“There are always new things to learn, and we’re learning how students are using these things as well. It helps us with the next step of the process,” Schneider said.

Wong said that when she visited the bus she learned about the new “Forms” application, as well as “Sites.”

“Sites” allows students to create Web sites and add content easily so that they can “share all their info in one place,” according to the Google Apps Web site.

Students who stopped by the tent also received Google t-shirts, frisbees and whiteboards Schneider said. Students also had the opportunity to play Rock Band on the bus.