Google powers student emails

As part of  Information Technology Services Green Up NIU effort, in conjunction with the university’s Vision 2020 Initiative, NIU students started the fall semester with a new email system and access to several of Google’s popular applications thanks to a partnership with Google Apps for Education.

The new email service increases students’ capacity to 25 GB of email storage space and provide access to Google Apps that include calendars, document viewers and other collaboration tools.

What this means for students

Students access their email from the same website they usually do at webmail.students.niu.edu. They will login with their Z-ID and password. Authentication will take place at NIU, and credentials will not be shared with Google.

Students who use POP or IMAP to access their NIU emails from their phones will need to update the email configuration settings on their device. Complete instructions are available on the ITS website.

Email in the current NIU webmail system can be copied over to Google Mail. Only messages in the inbox can be copied. Messages in folders and contacts stored in webmail should be saved this week. Once the webmail system used in previous years  goes offline, folders and contacts from the system will no longer be available.

Benefits of Google Apps for Education

A key component of NIU’s Google relationship is access to the Google Drive, which not only provides a single place to store and access up-to-date versions of files from anywhere, but allows students to view over 20 file types right in their browser, including videos, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop files, even if the device doesn’t run the file’s original software. And the files are backed up on the Google Cloud.

The NIU Board of Trustees recently authorized an investment of just under $2 million for campus Wi-Fi expansion and cloud computing, helping  lead to a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly campus.

“This partnership with Google is a key component of NIU’s Vision 2020 Initiative, helping us towards the goal of being the premier student-centered public research university in the Midwest,” said Walter Czerniak, associate vice president for Information Technology. “It makes good financial sense in terms of cost savings and puts our student computing on par with major research universities such as Vanderbilt, Arizona State and Northwestern.”

Students will recognize the familiar, user-friendly interface that is found in the public Google service once they log into webmail.

Google Apps is designed to provide educational institutions with a safe, reliable platform for its data. A detailed Privacy Policy ensures Google will not inappropriately share or use personal information placed in its systems. The system will not display advertisements.

“A leading-edge company such as Google provides innovative and relevant products, services and support to the end user, and the vast majority of our students are already familiar with the platform,” Czerniak said. “It makes good sense to partner with them as we move our ITS vision forward.”

Resources for students

NIU ITS anticipates there will be an adjustment period for students to get used to the new webmail interface. With that in mind, appropriate helpdesk staffing levels are in place to ease in the transition. The helpdesk can be accessed online at helpdesk.niu.edu, via email at helpdesk@niu.edu and through its 24/7 call center at (815) 753-8100.

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