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Owens plans switching to new e-mail on Monday

Owens Community College students will switch to a new e-mail system Monday with online applications to make doing schoolwork easier.

Through a free partnership with Google, Owens is able to offer the Omail+ system that is basically Gmail personalized for the college, said Martin Stroud, Owens' associate director of information technology.

The Google Apps system will allow students to e-mail, create an online calendar, use Google documents, create Web sites, and send instant messages.

The tools will be helpful because students can access them anywhere since they are in the Web system and not saved on their hard drive, but they are also interactive, Mr. Stroud said.

"They're collaborative in the sense that you and I can have a document up and we can both look at it and we can change it and both of us will see those changes at the same time," he said.

That could be particularly helpful for online learning or group projects, he said.

The Omail+ system will provide 7 gigabytes of storage, which is substantially more than the 10 megabytes students start with now, Mr. Stroud said, adding that students had requested more storage space in recent surveys.

Owens offers e-mail now through Novell GroupWise software.

Students will keep their same @owens.edu e-mail addresses and passwords, and there is a one-button option to transfer their old e-mails into the new system, Mr. Stroud said.

The switch will take place over the weekend and be ready for students on Monday, but the old system will be maintained until the end of the calendar year for students to make the transition, he said.

The college is first changing the student e-mails, which include about 84,000 accounts when recent alumni and prospective students are added on the system. The college is investigating if the new system will be appropriate for faculty, staff, and administrators, Mr. Stroud said.

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