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The School of Arts and Sciences will switch to a gmail platform for its email server and will test Google Apps for Education soon. Read the story here

Photo: Jenny Trang / The Daily Pennsylvanian

Penn students were not the only ones to pass some tests this semester.

Initial internal testing for Google@SAS has concluded according to schedule, and the second stage of testing is currently in progress, according to Chris Mustazza, director of Social Sciences Computing and Student Technology.

The School of Arts and Sciences Computing Department announced in February that email accounts will switch to Gmail from Microsoft’s Windows Live Hotmail.

Since then, Gmail accounts have been tested by members of the Student Technology Advisory Board and are now being tested by about 150 students.

These tests are helping SAS Computing figure out problems with the accounts. Most of the issues involve configuring the accounts for mobile devices such as the BlackBerry, according to Mustazza.

“The students helped us to make sure that our Google domain was correctly configured, and gave us an idea of the types of questions we would receive when we rolled out the product further,” Mustazza wrote in an email.

Gmail accounts will be offered to all undergraduate and graduate students in SAS and students in the College of Liberal and Professional Studies this summer. SAS Computing will begin sending invitations the first half of June.

Incoming College students have already started creating their Gmail accounts.

According to Mustazza, as of early May, there have been over 200 Gmail accounts created by incoming freshmen.

Current students who are testing Google@SAS say they enjoy Gmail more than Windows Live.

College freshman Brandon Krieger loves the new system. “I use Gmail for my personal email address, so the new Google@SAS integrates perfectly,” adding that “the new system has all of Gmail’s great features like filters and labels.”

Similarly, College freshman Ellen Kim likes the new system because “it’s better with iPhones [than Windows Live] because it syncs a lot more frequently.”

Ease of use is another advantage cited by students.

College freshman Danielle Curtis said “it was really easy to switch all of my calendar events … to Gmail.”

For students who want to keep their Hotmail accounts, Mustazza wrote that the department is working with Microsoft to allow students to keep their Windows Live accounts if they wish, adding that it is likely they will be able to.

In the future, Mustazza hopes to integrate more features from Google into everyday Penn life.

“Our overall plan goes much beyond email — we’re planning on actively seeking out ways that the applications included with Google Apps can benefit students through facilitating collaboration and by enhancing courses.”

According to Google, 66 of the top 100 schools ranked by U.S. News & World Report are using Google Apps for Education.

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SAS email service switches to Gmail

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