Gmail pilot starts for students

The campus has invited 500 undergraduate and graduate students, randomly selected across academic classes, majors and most colleges, to try Gmail as their UC Davis email program for about eight weeks starting in mid-January. If the tryout meets campus objectives, the Google email service might be offered to all UC Davis students starting this fall.

Information and Educational Technology, seeking a better set of email features for students, started examining options last spring. It held forums, surveys and focus groups with students, as well as discussions with campus groups, leading to the pilot with Google.

Students who use the system will notice significant changes from the current Web-based email system. They include more storage for messages (Google offered 5GB per account as of December, several times larger than the campus's 40MB); an ability to access email from cell phones, BlackBerries and other mobile devices; and the option to use tools in Google Apps, such as the calendar.

The participants keep their address, and can access their accounts from the MyUCDavis Web portal or directly through the UC Davis Gmail Web site. Tech support for Gmail is available through IT Express, the computing services help desk; support for Google Apps comes from Google.

Students will be surveyed during the pilot to see how the service is working for them. The campus will evaluate the results and offer a recommendation this spring. Read more here, and send questions or comments to