Gmail student tryout planned this fall

This fall the campus intends to invite about 500 students to join a pilot project that will use Gmail, from Google Inc., as their main campus email system.

Creating local email programs--or updating existing ones, to make them comparable to the tools offered by Internet companies like Google--would be prohibitively expensive. So the campus wants to see if working with Google can get UC Davis students a better set of tools than the campus alone can provide, and wants to collect data to decide if Gmail should be offered to all students later on.

The service will mostly feel like part of campus email. Students will keep their address and be able to access their accounts from the MyUCDavis Web portal. The campus will offer tech support through the IT Express help desk.

(The students can also use the other tools offered in Google Apps, such as the chat room and calendar, but support for those tools will come directly from Google.)

The pilot is due to start near the end of November. A survey will ask participants for their comments. Other UC campuses are also looking into teaming with Google for student email, and the Office of the President is negotiating a systemwide contract with the Mountain View company.