New York University is switching it’s e-mail service to Google Apps Education Edition – enabling services such as Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, and Google chat. The university has set July 2012 as the goal for switching it’s service over.  For it’s graduate schools, NYU has left the time table up to them.  Currently, the NYU school of medicine is offering this program in beta form with key caveats – that we’ll get into later.

Contrary to other reports, NYU isn’t the first school to do this.  North Carolina State University (NCSU), known for producing great silicon valley talent – started a beta program January this year, and Brown had a program for their undergraduates in 2009.

For the NYU School of Medicine (SOM), google apps will be offered to all students and faculty.  The SOM has stated this is strictly in Beta form, and they have the ability to turn on and off features as the beta testing period continues.  Unfortunately, house staff – e.g. residents – will not have access to this due to licensing issues.

Why the Switch?

As with most educational institutions, NYU was spending a great deal of money on an archaic platform with subpar performance. NYU projects a cost savings of $400,000 a year from the move to Google Apps.  The decision was not based on cost alone – surveys of the student body showed a significant portion of students were automatically forwarding their emails to Gmail already.

Of note, students will be able to access their email in mobile form, similar to how Gmail currently works.  This is one of the strongest features of Gmail – using an exchange server on your phone to search old archived emails is painful.  Using a mobile version of Gmail on your web browser is a much superior experience.

Other Schools to follow suit?

Definitely.  With schools such as NYU and NCSU now having pilot programs in place, other schools will most likely take a wait and see approach once more data is released about the transition.  Having a variety of the Google apps available, such as google docs – an app that allows extensive collaboration between students and faculty – is just one of the many reasons why it’s a no brainer for educational institutions to make the switch.

Source: NYU news