Wilkes U app upgraded and campus email migration complete

Shawn Carey, Asst. News Editor

For the 2012-13 academic year there have been a lot of changes in technology on campus with a new app and email server and now it is time for an update on those changes.

Last semester the university released an app for students so they could access their D2L account, weekly food menus, and events calendar. Now since the students have added their feedback it is time for Phase 2 of the app development.

“It has been fairly positive,” Gloria Barlow, chief information officer said. “We had some really good feedback from students, most really liked it.”

Barlow said that the biggest complaint of the app is the login screen for the app and says it will be fixed with the next phase of the app.

“People were frustrated with the sign-in process because of the iPhones automatically capitalize the first letter,” Barlow said, “but that will actually be fixed in a new integration.”

There was a meet-and-greet for students to talk to designers of the app and offer their feedback toward the app.

Based on the feedback that Barlow has received, students have said that they want the integration of the emergency alerts and access to their banner tools to check their schedules and grades.

“They would like to see the Wilkes Emergency alert integrated into it and most importantly giving students access to their banner tools.”

For now, Phase 2 of the app, will be taking into consideration student feedback of the banner integration, improvements in login, but must first talk to Public Safety before incorporating emergency alerts.

“The emergency alert piece is one that we need to be working in conjunction with Public Safety,” Barlow said. “They really manage that emergency alert and we are taking a look at our emergency alert software and seeing if we need to upgrade.”

Many students are able to use the app for things that interest them, such as sports schedules, dining menus and having mobile access to their courses.

“The biggest thing college students are asking for is mobile access to their course management system, so we are out there ahead of the game,” Barlow said.

Barlow said that they will be doing one more student session after spring break to get more feedback before releasing Phase 2 of the app. After the student session, Barlow said, she should have a better idea of when it will be released after spring break.

The Google Mail migration process has officially been completed according to Barlow.

A committee was formed to assess the need for a new communication system and see what was available. Recommendations led to transitioning to a cloud-based email system, such as Google Mail. Also, with transitioning, according to Barlow will save the university $95,000 over a five-year period.

“Google is an environment most students are very comfortable with,” Barlow said. “People are comfortable with Google apps and other tools, and this was a tool that they liked.”

The migration of the email server was done over a 10 month period with phases in that time frame. Students, faculty and staff were given control as to when they were going to switch over to the new email system.

As of Jan. 1, everyone who had not switched over was automatically switched over to the new system.

Now because of the cloud based system, regardless of anything happening, students, staff and faculty will have access to their email. Storage for each email account has also greatly increased.

Since the migration is complete the university is now looking at the different aspects that Google has to offer such as the maps, docs and hangout features that come with the Google services.

Students are also taking advantage of the new features that students have to offer because of the new system.

“I think it is much easier to work with,” Sophomore earth and environmental science major Justin Davis said. “It allows me to be much more organized and is much more user friendly than the other email system was.”

With the migration, students had some problems with the transition of their accounts. Some of the emails were getting delivered to the wrong server or getting delivered to each system.

A problem, Barlow said, since there were two different systems running at the same time during the migration.

“Sometimes there were a few glitches and sometimes it came about because in a migration and conversion,” Barlow said, “there were two systems running at once, so that’s were a few glitches came in.”

Because the two systems were running, students and faculty were not sure what account to check.

During the migration, the systems converted between 15,000 and 16,000 accounts and thousands of messages.

“We had a very small percentage that was actually affected,” Barlow said.

Barlow said that when they were alerted of a problem from a student or faculty member they were able to correct the problem right away.

For now, there is only one email account left on the old email system, and it is Barlow’s. She will send the last email from the old system announcing the full migration to the new Google system.