The Circle Voice

Groton Email to Pivot from Outlook to Gmail

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Spring break this year will not only mark a change in the weather on the Circle, but also a shift away from the school’s long working relationship with Microsoft Outlook – the School will change its email provider to Google Mail. On February 2 – Groundhog Day – Chief Technology Office Elizabeth Preston recently sent an announcement via email to staff, faculty, and students. Like Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction of springtime, this gives the school six weeks to prepare for the transition. Ms. Preston is enthusiastic, and described the shift to Google as an “exciting new direction for Groton.”

 

The idea to step away from Outlook has been a priority of Ms. Preston’s since she arrived at Groton in 2015. “OneDrive wasn’t proving to be collaborative space,” she explained, “It was a great place for file storage and backing up your stuff but it wasn’t a place that you could really collaborate with colleagues and/or students.”

 

Google applications for educational domains (branded under G Suite) will provide the community access to applications such as Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides – rough equivalents of Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. Ms. Preston believes that the Google Platform is a more “unified core of information,” excelling at combining email services with office applications. The Technology Office committed to the transition at Ms. Preston’s third proposal this past fall, after reviewing community interest via survey and creating a committee to evaluate the pros and cons.

 

In her discussion of the transition’s benefits, Ms. Preston noted a 2013 study by John DeWolf at Backupify that stated 72 of top 100 Universities in the US use Google Apps, including 7 of the 8 Ivy League universities. “The environments you’re going to go into for college, they’re using these spaces,” she explained, “so it would be nice to give you that skillset to be masters at collaborating and sharing and organizing your life.” Other benefits she mentioned included email organization, with smart folders or “labels” that can automatically sort incoming messages, and an increase in overall efficiency, specifically in searching for old emails.

 

Some community concerns in the fall survey included group email distribution and loss of email history. The Technology Office assured, however, that the switch to Google will transfer the standard email groups such as “All-Student”, as well as add additional groups for classes, clubs, etc., and will carry old emails and calendar events to the new platform. groton.org email addresses will remain untouched. The only data that will not transition is OneDrive files. In addressing this concern, Ms. Preston said “We can help [OneDrive users] migrate … that piece I’m not worried about.”

 

The Technology Office also hopes that the move’s timing will make it easier. “By doing it over spring break, it is a really light time,” said Ms. Preston, “you want to make the change in the delivery around a time when there isn’t a lot of traffic.” The Technology Office will be training staff on the Google Platform during the first week of the transition, and will offer training to students and faculty from the commencement of spring term until the end of the school year. They hope to offer sessions during many different color blocks so that people can drop into Hundred House during free periods and learn how to use the new software. The Technology Office wants this transition to be as smooth as possible for the community, and said that it hopes to be of as much aid as possible as the School transitions email systems.

About the Writer
Lily Cratsley '19, Editor-in-Chief
Lily Cratsley ’19 is very excited to step into the role of Editor-in-Chief of the Circle Voice. Since fourth form she has been a consistent contributor, writing for Arts, Opinions, and News. She served as the Assistant News editor her fourth form year, reprising that role in fifth form. She hopes her passion for reporting will continue...
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