2012-2013 Google Student Ambassador Program

For more than a few years now Google has offered students an opportunity to serve as liaisons between their campus and Google through the Google Student Ambassador Program. Students selected for the program participate for one school year. During the program, students might be challenged to demonstrate how Google products can enhance studying or sociallizing, and they are invited to Mountain View for a training summit July 30 & 31.
HMC’s Google Apps Manager has requested referrals for the program and provided more information about the program.  Google would like to receive recommendations by May 4th.
For 2012-2013 Student Ambassador Referrals, please visit this site: http://goo.gl/kXXWx

To learn more about the program, please visit this site: http://goo.gl/RZ316

Email and Calendar Migration Project Update

Migration of administrative staff email and calendars to MS Office365 is moving along. The Computing and Information Services department and the Office of the President have been migrated to the new service, with the College Advancement department completing this week.
The target for completion of all HMC staff email migrations is first week of June.

Updated pricing plans for MS Office365 for education were posted last month. The highlight of these changes for our campus is the Academic Plan A2 being offered for free to students, faculty and staff. More details can be found at Learn About Office365.

Migrations of faculty email accounts from Zimbra mailbox-01, Odin, and Thuban mail systems continue. These migrations continue to be completed via one-on-one, in-person support from the User Support Group. Our current count is (61) faculty members migrated in the past six months. In April, May, and early June, the project team will focus on the Engineering and Chemistry departments, as other academic departments are more than 80% complete.
The target for mailbox-01 shutdown of email service for faculty is first week of June.

Investigation of calendaring functions available within and between Google Apps and Office365 continues. During the calendar migration process, the project team learned that recurring events would need to be recreated.

Ongoing development and socialization of project documentation, which includes new information for Office365 available on HMC email.

Tracking of function or feature inquiries related to email, calendar and other compatible collaboration applications continues. These inquiries should be emailed to helpdesk@hmc.edu for tracking and communications via a ticket with the project team.
The project team continues to post updates to the google site tracking our activities, Google Apps for HMC

March 2012 update from the CIO

The semester progresses and we’re getting closer to the moment when we graduate a new class.  So I’ll keep this update brief.

iPad 3 and Kinect
If you’re in need of distraction, we have a couple of the new iPads and a Kinect available for loan from the CIS help desk.  You can borrow them to try out for a couple of weeks. Contact the Help Desk.

Google Privacy
Google introduced a new privacy policy for their suite of consumer products.  The HMC  contract for Google Apps for Education is not affected by this new policy, as it is a separate contract. There are more details at.http://www5.hmc.edu/ITNews/?p=1963

Sakai service changes
It is almost certain that Harvey Mudd College will no longer be the “lead Claremont College” for the Sakai service after this summer.  This is as a result of long discussions about the options for sourcing the service, either with a specialized company or with another lead college.  Again, there are lots more details in the article about Sakai service changes coming.

Email and Calendar progress
The Email and Calendar team has been busily migrating people off of mailbox-01.hmc.edu (Zimbra).  We have migrated more than 40 faculty to Google Apps for Education and have begun migrating staff to Microsoft Office365 (CIS moved a couple of weeks ago; the President’s Office moved this week and OCA begins moving next week).  It looks like we are on target to remove all the accounts by the deadline we have set, which will allow us to discontinue the licensing agreement for Zimbra.

As with all technology changes, there is a learning curve, both for us and you. We have a plethora of options at HMC, with a high emphasis on autonomy. So there are lots of different email clients and practices that people have, which inevitably means there is at least a little bit of learning for each new migration.

We’ve started collecting anecdotes about how people use Google Apps.  For example, read about a couple of things that Eliot Bush does. If you have ideas to share, let us know.  Also, Calvin wrote in detail about an issue we were seeing with mails forwarded to yourself in Google Apps for Education.

Survey on Student Use of Technology 
I recently sent a message to students-l about participating in the Educause Center for Applied Research survey of student use of technology.  It’s an annual survey that is widely cited and helps many institutions make technology support decisions.  This is the first year that HMC had an opportunity to participate. As I wrote to the students, it’s time that the national survey included opinions from students at the institution that gave the world the MIME standard (Ned Freed ’82), SQL (Don Chamberlin ’66), Flash (Jonathan Gay ’89), Remote Procedure Calls (Bruce Jay Nelson ’74) and Audacity (Dominic Mazzoni ’99).  If you agree, prompt a student near you to complete the survey!  Thanks.

Next update will be late April/early May.  Not very far away. Until then, may the end of the semester be a good one for you all.

How do you use Google Apps?

We’re putting together short articles about the ways that people make use of the new HMC Google Apps for Education service.  I asked Eliot Bush, chair of the Computing Committee, to give me examples of things he does.   Here’s what he wrote:

One thing I do is use appointment slots in google calendar. This is great for setting up meetings with students. When its time for advising meetings and registration, I set up a bunch of appointment slots and have them select them.

I also co-teach quite a bit. We often have to do things like write an exam together. Its so much easier to do this with a google doc which can be edited together. It saves us from having a thousand different versions flying back and forth over email.

If you have found a good use for Google Apps, or know of a Google add on we should activate, please don’t hesitate to get in touch, or leave a comment on this post.

Sakai Service changes coming

Harvey Mudd College has been the “Lead College” for the Sakai service since its inception in 2006.  This means that we provide the service to all the Claremont Colleges and receive some funding from the other Colleges to do so.

About two years ago I began to explore the option of contracting with rSmart for Sakai hosting.  rSmart is a company dedicated to hosting Sakai and other Higher Ed applications for a long list of higher education customers.  Hosting the service with them would take advantage of their expertise and the scale of their operation, which is based in Arizona and housed in one of the largest data centers in the country. On almost all dimensions of the comparison — cost, architecture, functionality, infrastructure, expertise — rSmart looked to be an improvement over what HMC could provide alone. Exploration of this option took many months, and then in August 2011 I made a formal proposal to the Information Technology Committee (ITC) that we should host Sakai with rSmart.  A series of monthly discussions took place, including a visit by the rSmart team in December.   However, I did not manage to persuade my CIO colleagues from the other Claremont Colleges and so the ITC voted to accept an offer from Pomona College to host the service.  The ITC is now moving forward to bring that recommendation to two other Intercollegiate committees, the Business and Financial Affairs Committee (BFAC) and the Academic Deans Commitee (ADC).  Assuming those committees endorse the idea, the Sakai service will be provided by Pomona College effective July 1, 2012.

If the service does move to Pomona, end users will not see any real difference in how the service is delivered. Pomona has offered to continue to subsidize the service and to augment and strengthen the infrastructure, which are good things.  Over time, they may install the rSmart version of Sakai which would provide some nice additional functionality over the “vanilla” version of Sakai that we have been running.

User support for Sakai questions will continue in the same way as it does now.  You can contact the Help Desk for help with issues and if you need advice on how to use a particular tool, you could contact Elizabeth Hodas.

For CIS, the change means a return of time and resources that were being dedicated to supporting the intercollegiate service.  During the analysis of the rSmart option, I discovered that we were subsidizing the service by about $50k per year. We were indeed investing time and resources in an important service and received praise from the other Colleges for our work.  But we are now looking forward to investing time and energy in other projects that will benefit the College, while confident that the Sakai service will be delivered in the ways we were familiar with.


Sending email to a mailing list or yourself through Google Apps

This past summer, all HMC students email accounts were migrated from Zimbra (mailbox-02) and onto Google Apps.  You may also know that we are currently migrating faculty email accounts from Zimbra (mailbox-01) to Google Apps as well.

Early on in the migration, we received reports from students that when they send emails to their own @hmc.edu address (which forwards directly to their Google Apps accounts), or when they send to a mailing list that contains their own @hmc.edu address, they did not get the email back in their Inbox.

Here are some common statements that describe the situation:
– I sent an email through Google Apps with my @hmc.edu email address in the To, CC, or BCC, field, but I never received that email back in my Inbox.
– My @hmc.edu email address is a member of a mailing list.  However, when I emailed that mailing list, I never got my own email back in my Inbox.

We immediately began testing this thoroughly and found that it seemed like Google was dropping a message if it detected the message had made a forwarding loop back to the sender.  We thought it might be a spam detection issue initially.  We contacted our Google Apps support rep with a thorough description of the issue and offered to demonstrate it.  However, the rep had not heard of the issue and could not help us.

We did some research ourselves and found the answer, on Google’s support page:

The page above is a troubleshooting guide for when you don’t receive an email that you expect.  Near the middle of the page, they say:

“Finally, if you’re sending mail to a mailing list that you subscribe to, those messages will only appear in ‘Sent Mail.’ This behavior also occurs when sending to an email address that automatically forwards mail back to your Gmail address.”

So essentially, Google is saying that if you send an email that makes a roundtrip (through forwarding or mailing lists) back to your own Google Apps account, you won’t get it in your Inbox!  This behavior is definitely not what most people expect!  We understand that most people want to get a copy of their own email back in their Inbox as a confirmation that the email went out to a list successfully.  We will soon contact our rep to give our feedback and desire to have this behavior changed.  Thanks for all that have reported this issue to us!