Gmail now available to SBCC pipeline users

Johan Hammerby, Managing Editor


City College is planning to offer Gmail as an option instead of its pipeline service this coming summer session, but not everyone sees the change as necessary.

“It’s better in every way than what we currently have,” said the school’s Director of Technology Daniel Watkins.

“We’re going down this road, and this is the road that students seemed they wanted to go, and it seems like a pretty viable option for us,” he said.

City College will upgrade its platform from Pipeline 4 to Pipeline 5, but the new version has no integrated email system.

The change will eventually affect all users, but if any students want to switch to Gmail  now and get used to it, then they can.

Watkins said there are many benefits to the upgrade.  

“It will clear up a lot of storage, it will save us on costs,” said Watkins.

Along with Gmail come other interactive components like Google Calendar, Google Sites, Google Docs and a chat function. Gmail also has better storage capabilities than the old system.

“We have a lot of students whose mailbox gets filled and then faculty gets messages back saying the students’ quota are full. Well, now your quota went from 50 Megs to 7 Gigs, so it will take a lot longer to reach that limit,” said Watkins.

Another reason for choosing Gmail in favor of other similar solutions, like Microsoft [email protected], is it’s wide use among schools.

More than 10 million students currently use the educational version of Gmail in their schools, which includes Brown University, Arizona State, USC and Westmont College in Santa Barbara.

Watkins has contacted many of them for feedback. He said they’ve had a good experience with the transition, which many of them also claim on Google’s website.

“We see these responses as validation to our product” said Google spokesperson Kat Eller.

She also thinks the collaborating tools are a big reason why so many schools have chosen to go with their system, as well as it being a free option.

“Ourmission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” Eller said.

“Google Apps for Education is one of the many tools we offer in order to do just that. Google was founded by a research project at Stanford University, and this is just one way we can give back to the educational community.”

But not everybody is happy about the change.

“I don’t like it,” said criminology major Tiffany Leiderby.  “It feels old fashion and too complicated.”

She said she was forced to create a Gmail account last semester when one of her professors refused to send emails to Hotmail accounts, citing the risk Hotmail might mark any as spam and delete them.

“Too much text and a lot of irritating small buttons. It’s not stylistically pure,” she added.

So Leiderby doesn’t like the fact that City College is going to change to Gmail.

“No! Big, big, no! Pipeline is working excellent, it’s much easier than Gmail”.

A student’s new Gmail address will be the same as before, and old mail will be migrated within a day. There won’t be any ads in the email either. Watkins wants as many students as possible to try it out.

“The only real issue I see, with this or any system that we change, is change,” he said. “Some people just have a tough time changing from one thing to another, I think we all do.”

This could also be a reason why Google offers the service for free.

“Google’s whole premise of not charging the school, for hosting it and do all those things, is they want to get students used to their tools,” said Watkins.

“So that when they go out in business they will say ‘hey, we used Google in school, I want to use Google in my business’. That’s the same thing,” he said.