Thursday, February 12, 2015

Email and Calendar System Change

For many years, Barrington 220 has used the GroupWise email and calendar system. For the last two years, our district has also been using several features available in the Google Apps for Education suite of services. With the increasing use of Google Apps for Education and a routine GroupWise email and calendar system upgrade on the horizon, we took the opportunity to discuss the best possible email and calendar options for the district, including GroupWise, Google, and other systems.

Our conversations included the Technology Department, district administrators, and most recently, the teacher and staff representatives on the newly formed District Technology Committee. Overwhelmingly, all groups favored a switch to Google’s Gmail and Google Calendar services that are a part of the Google Apps for Education package already in use in Barrington 220.

While we are fully aware that changing two major communication systems (email and calendars) will cause various levels of inconvenience. However, we believe that the positives—namely integration among systems in Google Apps for Education—outweigh the negatives. Further, Google Apps for Education is free to school districts and now offers unlimited data storage for educational institutions.

Our plan is to make the transition from GroupWise to Gmail and Google Calendars during Spring Break 2015. The Technology Department has been doing some work in the background to help all staff members make this transition smoothly and successfully.

The top issues regarding this change have included the follow questions:

Q. Will my email address change?
A. No. Your email address will still be 

Q. Will my old email messages disappear?
A. No. You will have complete access to all your old email messages. Although we will not be moving your old messages into Gmail, you will be able to access all your old email messages using a system described below.

Q. What will happen to my calendar entries in GroupWise?
A. You can export your GroupWise calendar and import it into Google Calendar. Directions are already available.

Q. How do I use Gmail and Google Calendar?
A. If you already have a free personal Gmail account, you already know how to use the system. We have training resources available now if you wish to begin learning Gmail and Google Calendar.

To make it easy to begin the GroupWise to Gmail transition, we have created a one-stop website that will contain all training and information related to this change:
Please bookmark this site for your convenience. We will also provide this web address in each communication regarding the transition.

Training materials for Gmail and Google Calendars are available now:

Access all your old GroupWise messages using our district’s “Retain” system:

You may begin using Google Calendars at any time between now and Spring Break 2015. Directions for exporting current GroupWise calendars and importing calendars into Google Calendar are available:

More information will be added to the GroupWise to Gmail site as Spring Break approaches. Watch for more information in future issues of the bsd220tech newsletter.

Please feel free to leave comments below! Your comments will help us answer questions and provide additional information on the GroupWise to Gmail site.

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