Oklahoma Christian University adopted Google Apps for Education this summer, joining a small list of colleges in the state to do so.
According to the university’s Business Solutions Manager, John Hanlon, Google Apps for Education offers students more opportunities for collaboration, especially through Gmail, Google Docs, Google Talk and Google Calendars. The Google Apps for Education program is optimized for mobile devices, reflecting the needs of students that use smartphones. In addition, these web-based services are a natural fit with Oklahoma Christian’s wireless campus.
“These new options allow for more collaboration between students themselves, students and professors, and even groups of students simultaneously working on a single document or spreadsheet,” said Hanlon, who works in Oklahoma Christian’s information technology department.
Google Apps for Education allows Oklahoma Christian to replace its old Exchange-based email service. This enabled the university to save on equipment costs while improving security.
“Maintaining our own server requires equipment costing over $50,000,” Hanlon said. “In addition, previously we had a couple of staff members spending some of their time on security. Google has many more engineers for whom security is their sole concern.”
Another reason the university adopted the new technology was to stay ahead of the technology curve in higher education.
“This really is the future of online collaboration and email for universities and colleges,” Hanlon said. “The great part for us is that Google is constantly adding more apps. They have more than 50 right now.”
An additional advantage for students is the increased storage capacity for email. Due to storage costs, most Exchange accounts were capped at 100 megabytes. Gmail currently has 25 gigabytes of storage per account, which better matches student use of larger-sized media such as video files and lectures. In addition, Google Apps for Education is free and advertising-free for most educational institutions.
Oklahoma Christian has long been a leader in integrating technology into an academic environment. It was one of the first universities in the country to offer laptops free to all students and to offer a completely wireless campus. In the last few years, the university has given all fulltime undergraduate students an Apple MacBook and an iPhone or iPod touch. New students this fall will receive Macbook Air notebooks, among the fastest and most powerful laptops available.