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Next Steps and Town Hall Recap 2/22 11:30-12:30

Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012

 What do we do now?

The rubric created from prior town halls is available here. We appreciate any comments you have on the blog -- or join us one more time - next Wed 2/22 11:30 to 12:30 in LC 205. Please come to provide comments about how you see the offerings matching to the rubric. The Task Force will then be meeting from 1pm-3pm to begin organizing our suggestions to the Provost and President. 

 

We are at the stage where we have gathered a huge amount of information and need to move to making a decision. Thank you for all your help. 

 

Comments Comments

Brian Moon said on Feb 17, 2012

Wow. What great product sets these two companies have! It is interesting to see, though, how each company has targeted a different market segment. Google has a very simple product set that targets the casual user. Microsoft, on the other hand, has a very robust product set that can be used by the casual user and the power user alike. Below is a list of some of the pros and cons I see of each solution:

Google:
Pros-
- Simple interface
- Conversation/thread view of emails
- No extra software needed, just a web browser
- Great search capabilities
- Familiarity for most students and a number of staff and faculty
- IM client
- Ability to concurrently edit files
- Instantly receive new features when available

Cons-
- Very simple feature set (missing advanced functionality)
- Not HIPA compliant (would not be able to support Cowell Health Center)
- Internet connection is required
- Instantly receive new features and may see the look and feel suddenly change over night

Microsoft:
Pros-
- Advanced feature set
- Ability to concurrently edit files and lock the section(s) being edited
- Can easily work offline
- Ability to edit files or send emails either from a client or a web application and have a very similar experience
- Conversation/thread view of emails
- Great search capabilities
- Tremendous integration opportunities (such as with the Cisco IP phones)
- Amazing IM client that is also capable of desktop sharing, video, and phone calls
- Familiarity with the Office suite of products
- Stable scheduled release cycle

Cons-
- Clients are currently required for document editing (except for OneNote)
- Will not be as good of an experience on Linux

After looking at these pros and cons we can see that there really is a big difference between these two. For the work that I do as a staff employee, as an instructor, and as a student, I can easily say that Microsoft's offering will best fit my needs. Below is a role based view of these products:

Staff Employee:
I have a desperate need for a robust calendaring application. GroupWise has been great for this. Microsoft's solution will allow me to continue using the calendar as I have to schedule meetings (some recurring) and do a busy search. Microsoft also has a very easy way to take an email conversation and turn it into a meeting request.

For basic email, either product would work. Both provide 25 GB of storage and the ability to organize my mail either manually or by rules. Both products also seem to have great search capabilities (I was very pleasantly surprised to see how much Microsoft has improved). I do like Google's concept of labels for emails and the ability to attach multiple labels to a conversation, but this is not a must have.

For document editing I will always use a full client. There are advanced features I use in Word to create templates and forms that are simply not available with Google Docs. In my oh-so-humble opinion, Google Docs is simply multiplayer WordPad; for quick note taking it could be helpful, but never would I use it for a professional document.

Instructor:
As an instructor my needs are a bit different. We already have a robust LMS in Camino (Angel), so I do not need a new tool to manage my class or create documents (see above for document editing). Instead, I need some ways to communicate with my class. Email is a great way to keep in touch and send messages back and forth. But what about IM? When Microsoft first mentioned Lync Online, I assumed that this was just another IM client that I would ignore and instead continue using Yahoo! IM and Google Talk. But then I started to see the possibilities of this. Imagine having an IM client where you could quickly and easily contact anyone in the university. Imagine what this would do to the accessibility of professors! Currently we hold office hours and limit our students to a specific time frame that they can come to our office for help. What if professors could offer this same help and interaction virtually? With Lync, a professor can still have the traditional office hours but also be easily accessible outside of those times for those students who may have a conflict with the posted time. And with the Lync client it is possible to share desktops or have a virtual white board to aid in answering the student's question. This possibility has me really excited as a new way to connect with and assist my students.

Student:
As a student I am concerned about email, document storage, and collaboration on group projects. In the past I have used Google Groups to connect with the team members and to share files. We would use Google Docs to consolidate all of our work; then one person, usually me, would take that document and convert it into a Microsoft Word document. Once in Word I can then generate a table of contents and enforce consistent styles across the document (this helps give the document a cohesive feel). This final document is then shared around by email, edits are made, and then the final product is reviewed and printed. With SharePoint it looks like this process would be a lot easier. The document can start as a Word document with whatever template we want to use, which will then save the effort of reformatting later. We can also take advantage of Word's ability to manage sources and insert citations in whatever format is required (MLA, APA, etc.); this is a great time saving feature.

Lync also becomes a great tool to allow us to communicate remotely or have a virtual meeting. Most students have very busy schedules (especially at the master's level), so getting everyone physically together in a room can be difficult. With Lync, this is no longer a requirement. That said, in-person meetings are still my preference, but it is nice to have this option.

In summary, either product offering will work for SCU. Both have some nice features that will be useful. With Google's offering I will be looking for ways to work around its limitations. With Microsoft's offering I will have a whole new set of tools that I can use to make me more productive and to better connect with others in SCU. If it is affordable, I would love to see Microsoft's Office 365 implemented for SCU.

Terri Griffith said on Feb 18, 2012
Brain, thank you for the detail provided in your comment. Great outline for Wed's discussion. One question - do you see issues with the offline capabilities in Google (constrained by only calendar, docs, & mail - and constrained to Chrome). I used these when I have to. I'm going to be sharing a "table of use" for both M & G: using Office (or other clients) and then uploading to G, G only, MS365 w/o client, MS365 w client.
Brian Moon said on Feb 20, 2012
I don't tend to do much travel, so offline editing is not a must have feature for me. However, I am sure that there are those in the community who would say that it is.
Melissa Gilbert said on Feb 18, 2012
I was unable to attend the Microsoft session so I cannot comment on the new features that would be available there. I appreciate that whichever option is chosen will be much better than what we have now. I see in Brian's posting that Angel is referenced. However, I think that the client is going away soon so as a professor I definitely need: email, ability to edit documents simultaneously (while keeping formatting), course management system (I like that I can email my students and have a nice inbox to archive them within the CMS), and want plenty of capacity. I am a bit concerned about the size limit on files you can attach with Gmail, and would have to look into the cloud for how to make that work for research project work. Thanks to the task force for the great work!!
Terri Griffith said on Feb 18, 2012
Thank you for highlighting critical feature needs. Much appreciated.
Brian Moon said on Feb 20, 2012
No official word has been given as to the future of Angel. Angel was purchased by Blackboard in 2009. Last year Blackboard released Angel 8.0. The big question now is what support will Blackboard maintain for Angel. If Blackboard does decide to end of life Angel, then SCU will be forced to consider alternative learning management systems. Neither Google Apps nor Microsoft Office 365 is a LMS; so in the event that Angel needs to be replaced then we will find a robust solution that is a true LMS to take its place.
Class of 2012 said on Feb 21, 2012
Unfortunately, I was not able to attend either session. I have a few questions/comments to make about the switch, for anyone who can answer them. Are Google/Microsoft courting the school with regard to switch to a new e-mail client, or is Santa Clara having to initiate discussions? If Google 'cares' about Santa Clara's decision, perhaps there could be incentives for the school to choose that company, such as Chromebooks to replace the aged laptops at this school, a mutually beneficial arrangement. The school could also make Chrome the standard browser on every computer on campus, as a nod to Google. The local company, which I think it's something to keep in mind, would possibly develop closer ties to the university, sharing technology, recruiting on campus, joint projects, etc. There's a great deal Santa Clara could potentially gain through cultivating a closer relationship with Google, perhaps starting with their e-mail client. On the other hand, Microsoft seems to have some pre-existing relationship with the university? I recall certain days in which Microsoft had its own tent set up outside of the library promoting its own products and services. If Microsoft were to be chosen, would they also be willing to update the school's computers beyond Windows XP at no or little cost to the school? The upcoming launch of Windows 8 provides a perfect opportunity to bring the school's computers fully up-to-date. I suppose my question boils down to, "Is this decision about the e-mail client significant enough for either to make additional accommodations to secure the deal?"
Terri Griffith said on Feb 21, 2012
I'll do my best and other Task Force members can chime in: SCU initiated discussions with both Google and Microsoft. With Google we would be part of their Google Apps for Education (free) program, with some fees for additional services to partners (e.g., backup, auditing, etc.) With Microsoft we would be negotiating a set of licenses for students, faculty, and staff. Our focus is on email, calendars, and document sharing/collaboration. Will be interesting to see how the negotiations go. Good to be thinking creatively.
Ed Ryan said on Feb 23, 2012
I want to thank the Committee for hosting the two vendor sessions. I attended both presentations as well as the wrap up meeting. I wanted to take a moment to provide some additional feedback. I have one comment that relates to the actual products. I also have comments about storage, timeline, and security. Products My sense is that both vendors have strengths and weaknesses. It seems that a large number of students, staff, and faculty like the usability of Gmail. And, I think it is a fine program. At the same time, I am concerned that we are losing some key features that we currently have with Group Wise. On a daily basis, I use the calendar busy search, the retract and resend, and the opened email function. While I recognize that these features may not be as important to students or faculty, I think they are critical to staff who complete administrative functions. While I have concerns about both vendors in terms of the calendar function, it seems that Microsoft has a superior busy search function. Storage I have concerns about storage size with Google. One GB of storage for native files in a cloud system is not enough. I think we need to consider that faculty, staff, and administrative departments have years (and in some cases decades) of information that needs to be stored in native files. I think there needs to be conversations with Human Resources, the Registrars Office, the University Library, Student Life, Athletics, the Deans Offices, and the Provost about storage needs. Even from an individual users perspective, I have concerns. I do qualitative research and have interview audio files. Twenty interviews (which is not that many) could easily consume 1 GB of data. Timeline This project strikes me as a massive undertaking, both in terms of implementation and training. Yesterday, there was a discussion of a July 2012 start date. I fear that such a short timeline is not feasible. Even if Santa Clara focused on email in a first phase, I dont think the University could transition the email system and train 1,700 faculty and staff in four months. An 18 month implementation seems more realistic. Safety Have there been any conversations about the security of communication systems as it relates to Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)? Yesterday, there was some talk about changing the culture of faculty, staff, and student communication and moving away from email as the primary communication tool. In theory, I do not have a problem with that. But, I wonder if new tools (online chat, Microsoft Lync) are considered secure from a FERPA perspective. Under FERPA, it is critical that any conversation about student records (even a conversation about a student grade) is secure. Again, I think conversations with the Registrar and Student Life about their communication needs as it relates to students would be useful. I know that you are receiving feedback from dozens of community members and that you have a difficult task of sorting through the information and making a decision. I just wanted to add my insights. Best wishes in your work. Respectfully, Ed Ryan Assistant Vice Provost, Academic Affairs
Terri Griffith said on Feb 24, 2012
Ed, thank you for the thoughtful comments. FERPA is clearly on the radar and the legal team will be doing a full review. The good news is that we have many universities ahead of us to look at these issues for both vendors. Similar to Group Wise, much of the solution/problem is human in terms of staying inside the boundaries and will be part of the implementation/training. As to the timeline - we're taking a hard look at that as well. My personal view is that if we don't make a move, transition will be even more difficult as different units on campus are already making their own independent moves given how slowly the overall process is going. That said, we want to make a good, informed choice with a realistic implementation plan.
Ed Ryan said on Feb 25, 2012
I hope you are well. I had one more thought. In the wrap up session, there was a discussion about changing the culture of communication among the four constituency groups (faculty, staff, students, and administrators). But, I think there is a fifth group: administrative units. I think the ways in which administrative units operate, communicate, and collaborate is different than how individual users communicate. I dont know if the Task Force has done this but I think it would be worth while to consult key administrative units (Student Records, Library, Deans Offices, Student Life, Financial Services, Auxiliary Services, Health Center, Bursars Office) about their communication needs. Many thanks. Ed Ryan
Terri Griffith said on Feb 25, 2012
We've have a variety of conversations & outreach (other Task Force members please chime in within who I'm forgetting): I'm remembering: Chris Bachen, Michael Meyer, Dennis Jacobs, President's Council, Eva Blanco is on the committee, Engineering School meetings, and hallway conversations. We've been pleased to see individuals from a variety of administrative units (I was including them in my list of faculty, staff, students, & administrators, but I see the nuance) in the early town hall where we asked that question - "what are the scenarios of your work?" Those scenarios then became the rubric that is part of the evaluation process. Our doors, email, and this blog are open if anyone feels we haven't heard their needs. How we come to communicate will be a community process - it can't be any other way. We're also taking the advice of using a survey (to go live on Monday) to try and touch every member of campus.
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