University of Michigan official: Switch to Google will change campus communication
University of Michigan switched more than 113,000 students, faculty and staff to Google mail and tools this month, marking what officials say is the start of a new way of collaborating at U-M.
In a recently posted video, Laura Patterson, U-M associate vice president and chief information officer, said the switch to Google systems brings more than a new mail and calendar system. It also introduces online tools that allow people to work simultaneously on a project and encourage collaboration, such as Google Documents and Google Plus.
"In the Google environment you start with a document that everyone can go into and edit at the same time," Patterson said. "You can watch each other's edits, you can comment on each other's edits, you can chat while you're editing."
"This real time editing... it dramatically decreases the amount of time that it takes to produce the document," she continued. "The impact of this? We will be more productive."
The school finalized an agreement with Google in October . The switch —dubbed the NextGen Collaboration Project— will cost roughly $1.8 million to initiate and is expected to create a more uniform, streamlined and collaborative communication system at U-M, Bill Wrobleski, U-M director of infrastructure projects, told AnnArbor.com recently. It's also expected to reduce costs $750,000 annually.
The school has switched all current students to the Google platform and plans to continue to gradually phase staff and faculty into the program throughout spring and summer.
In her video, Patterson acknowledged that some faculty and staff are wary of the switch but said "the university will grow into" the new platform.
"We'll just go places that we cant even envision right now," she said.
U-M's switch to Google follows a trend of universities adopting the platform. University of Delaware, Northwestern University, and Yale University each use Google tools.