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UM-Flint Prepares for the Transition to Google

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UM-Flint Prepares for the Transition to Google

Will Stuart, Writer

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By the time students return to the University of Michigan-Flint for the Fall 2019 semester, they’ll find their email doesn’t look quite the same. This is because the university is switching out Microsoft’s Outlook service for Google’s Gmail.

For anyone familiar with Gmail, UM-Flint’s new accounts will look and function exactly the same except with university branding.

Dane Salisbury, Student Government’s Director of Web Development as well as an Information Technology Services (ITS) employee, summed up the transition:

“The only change that will happen is we’ll be using Gmail and Google Calendar now instead of Outlook,” said Salisbury. “The other Google products are already available to students. This transition is just going to be activating the rest of the products in the Google Suite for students.”

The other products he’s referring to are Google Docs, Google Slides and Google Sheets, which are already available to students and found within the Google Suite–an alternative and direct competitor to Microsoft Office.

Currently within the email service, every student and faculty member has a college email address that ends with @umflint.edu. Part of the change to Gmail means that everyone on campus will gain access to a new email address ending in @umich.edu.

With this new email, students will need to have a second step of verification in order to access their account. The service is found within DUO, an account authenticator, which can be used via an internet browser or through an app. Students can verify a device every time they log in or once every seven days.

For students worried about missing important emails from their professors, all messages sent to their Outlook account will be forwarded to Gmail. Those wishing to keep their old emails will be able to migrate them through a web portal on my.umflint.edu, which will become active as the transition date nears.

On April 23, there will be a password expiration event where students whose passwords are over a year old will be prompted to choose and create a new password. This is so everyone will be able to configure their new Gmail account password as well as for security reasons. Students can decline to do so a few times, but eventually will have to in order to access their account.

For students who haven’t used their emails since the first day of their freshman year and hope to keep this streak until fall, they’ll be prompted to change their password when they eventually try to log in.

If all this tech talk seems a little too daunting, rest assured there’s time to prepare for the switch. Salisbury encourages students to get familiar with the products on their own.

“For any folks that don’t know about the Google Suite, anybody who isn’t familiar with it or hasn’t used it, go make a personal account and play with it,” said Salisbury. “It’s really, really cool, all the things you can do with it.”

One of the suite items is a drive where you can store slideshows, spreadsheets and Google documents within a cloud storage unit. You’ll also be able to edit any of these documents in your web browser with those you share it with in real time.

And get ready to say goodbye to the 2 GB cap within Outlook–storage between both Gmail and Google Drive is set at 30 GB for non-Google documents and virtually unlimited for those created within the Google Suite.

ITS is confident the transition will launch smoothly, but are ready for issues if they arise–mainly those involving migration.

To ensure everything goes accordingly, they have been slowly switching some academic departments and staff groups to Gmail. They also have a group of Google guides helping them.

Students can always go to the ITS help desk and ask questions as they arise.

While the transition is in phases with pilot groups, it will be finalized on June 23 for students.

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