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Students, staff satisfied by Google

Jillian Stinchcomb | Monday, September 28, 2009

The first year with Google has “absolutely” been a positive experience, Katie Rose of the Office of Information and Technology (OIT) said.

Incoming freshmen of the Class of 2012 were introduced to Notre Dame Gmail in May 2008, and the rest of the upperclassmen made the switch on Sept. 3 of last year.

“All 12,000 accounts were switched in one day,” Rose said.

OIT made the switch for several reasons.

“All of the stars aligned,” Rose said.

In January 2008, Legacy, the old Notre Dame server for e-mail, informed OIT that they would stop supporting parts of the old infrastructure.

Meanwhile, the majority of student government candidates in that spring had at least part of their platform based on improving e-mail, particularly by switching to Google.

“Students were asking for Google in a variety of ways,” she said.

Students are making use of the applications available to them on Gmail.

“I use all the apps available,” Kevin McKenzie, a sophomore, said. “Gmail, obviously, but I also update my calendar almost every day, chat with classmates about projects, and I use Google Docs consistently. Also, I have the Ninja theme as my background of my Gmail.”

Junior Chris Dinkins, who is on the cheerleading team, uses the cheerleading Google calendar to keep track of events.

“It’s very convenient and easy to use,” he said.

He also uses Google Docs with his work at OIT, when they are testing new software.

Sophomore Stephanie Sansone uses the start page for weather, Observer news and her Google Calendar.

“We saw a 36 percent increase in student satisfaction with mail,” Rose said in reference to the yearly satisfaction survey.

It’s harder to tell how much use the other apps are getting, since they weren’t available with the Legacy server, but students as well as clubs are using Calendars (such as the cheerleading squad) and Google docs.

Google has been a great support. Since Google is in charge of their apps, “there’s much less internal maintenance,” Rose said.

Google also has a blog and Twitter account to support students, give tips and answer questions, as well as their continued technological improvements.

For OIT, however, the most important aspect is student satisfaction.

“The biggest benefit is better teaming with the students. Google improved our relations with the students. It’s been a fantastic move for us,” Rose said.