by Carolyn Turgeon
Executives have reviewed and approved the proposal to implement the Google Apps for Education online suite at Ryerson.
The proposal, which was submitted by the Advisory Committee on Academic Computing (ACAC) and Computing and Communication Services (CCS) was reviewed by public town hall meetings before being put forward to the executive.
Julia Hanigsberg, vice president administration and finance, and Alan Shepard, provost and vice president academic, accepted the committee’s recommendation and advised them to go ahead with the next step.
Hanigsberg made the announcement to members of campus media in her office early Friday.
The full suite of Google Apps will be available to the university, but their primary focus will be Gmail and Google Calendar.
As a collaborative app, the calendar will allow students, staff and faculty to share assignment dates and other important information.
“One of the main things people want is cross-platform calendaring,” said Hanigsberg. “This will just create so many ease of use things that I think people find normal and expect you to have but that we haven’t been able to achieve.”
She said the hope is to complete these steps and have the system implemented by Fall 2012.
“There are a number of things that have to happen between now and the day you log in,” she explained.
The first issue to be assessed is privacy, which has been a concern in the past and a primary consideration in moving forward with the implementation of Gmail at Ryerson.
The university has been aware of the option to migrate systems for over ten years but hesitated over the privacy discretion associated with American servers.
In November 2012, the university was working with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario to assess the privacy concerns and found that Canada’s terrorism laws already allow our information, including Rmail, to be shared with the United States.
Gmail is actually considered to be the safer of the two options, due to the security of their information and Google data centres.
“Our strong believe is that from an information and security perspective, [email] will be much less vulnerable in their system than it is in the current Ryerson system,” said Hanigsberg.
Rmail will be kept and funded for students who do not wish to switch to the new system and by the end of August students should expect to recieve information and the ability to decide if they would like to migrate accounts.
Google Apps for Education is offered free to the university, though there will be some costs to implement the system and continue to maintain Rmail.