Washburn is planning to convert its existing web interface to something new in January 2014. This will dramatically change e-mail and calendar capability for students, faculty and staff. The conversion is in its planning stage which includes determining which interface is best suited to university and student needs.
The changes are necessary because existing technology is outdated. It does not adequately leverage mobile technology or leverage advantages of cloud service.
“Our hardware is in need of an upgrade in addition to browser options,” said Eileen Brouduss, Application Systems Specialist, Information Technology Services. “It’ll most likely be an upgrade package we are looking at.”
“We have an evaluation committee that has been meeting for several months now. Members represent students, faculty and staff,” said Broudduss. “They are considering two specific options for an interface, Google Apps and Office 365. Part of the planning process includes collecting student and faculty feedback as to which of these would be most favored.”
The committee sent out a survey to the greater campus asking for input. There have been about 600 responses so far.
“At least half of those responses have been from students,” said Broudduss. “The committee will look at all advantages and make a recommendation to the Board of Regents.”
In addition to the on-line survey, Information Technology is providing side by side demonstrations of interface options for students and staff. The first event was April 24. On April 29 they presented a demonstration in Henderson 112.
“Most people favor their comfort zones, or what they are comfortable using,” said Floyd Davenport, Director of Information Technology Services. “Students really like Google. But there’s no clear winner.”
“I’m not really familiar with either one,” said Dr. Cheryl Childer, Chair and Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology. “My biggest concern is privacy. Google changes very fast, I wonder how that will be managed.”
Davenport noted that there is a generational gap in perception about managing changes. Some students see immediate updates as beneficial, while others may not.
One clear advantage from the upgrade will be increased space for students and versatile customization. Currently students have only 100 MB of space, compared to 25 GB in the future.