Getting on the same page

Collaboration expected to be easier with student email change

The process of switching all of Ferris to Microsoft Office 365 started with faculty and staff six years ago and it now finally has a completion date. 

In December 2018, student emails will be switched to Office 365. Student Gmail accounts will not be deleted and no data will be eliminated at first. Ferris chief technology officer Jake Martin said the process will be non-destructive and everything students have in their accounts when they leave for break will be there when they get back. 

“I really think that this aligns with the university’s core values of collaboration, excellence, learning and opportunity. By putting everybody into a unified system, collaboration will be off the charts. Now the faculty members can work with the students to pursue excellence. It leverages the tools that we have to encourage that lifelong learning pursuit and opportunity for capstone. It’s going to be a huge victory for the university and for students long term,” Martin said. 

Through Office 365, students will have free access to all applications in the Microsoft Office suite without downloading anything as it is web-based. According to Martin, Office 365 functions on every platform: Mac, PC, phones, iOS, Android and all web browsers. 

“The cool thing is, the apps that Microsoft has developed for the mobile platform are easy to use, straightforward and you get access to the full suite of applications and the power of the applications they deliver through the web,” Martin said. “It’s a great platform.” 

According to Martin, there is currently a “schism” between directories because students are in Gmail and faculty are in Office 365. Faculty cannot look up student accounts and vice versa and often, faculty emails will end up in student spam boxes. With everyone on the same system, that will no longer happen. 

Ferris social work sophomore Kristina Samson said the change will be welcomed as there have been problems with Google in the past. 

“I had a situation last semester where we had a project to do on Google Slides and we shared it with our professor but she never got it because her email wasn’t on the same system. She never got it and we failed the assignment,” Samson said. “If we were on the same page, it would be a lot easier.” 

Among the popular Microsoft applications—Word, Excel, PowerPoint—there are many other apps students will have access to, such as OneNote, Stream and Planner. 

A Frequently Asked Questions form will be sent out to students to help with transferring data from Gmail to Office 365 and learning how to use Office 365.