Google lures more colleges to Gmail with bigger inboxes

Using the on-campus eMail system, Holy Cross students and faculty were limited to 250 megabytes of storage space.

“Students are spending a lot of time just looking through mail and trying to stay under the quota,” Knapp said, adding that Holy Cross students wouldn’t likely approach to 25GB limit in the new Gmail inbox. “They probably won’t have to worry about that anymore. I can’t imagine that they would fill that 25 gigs in four years, but I guess you never know.”

Not many Google Apps for Education customers were maxed out in the 7GB Gmail inboxes, a Google spokesman said in an eMail to eCampus News, adding that “we recognize that eMail has become an incredibly popular form of communication on college campuses … nationwide” and adding storage capacity ensures students and educators have plenty of room in their inboxes.

Google Apps for Education offers schools and colleges free access to a host of collaborative web-based applications like Google Calendar, Google Sites, and Google Docs, a program that allows several students to work on the same research paper on different computers simultaneously, for example.

Google grabbed campus technologists’ attention in 2006 when the company released Google Apps for Education, which included a 2GB Gmail inbox – double the storage available in Gmail’s first iteration, in 2004.

In April 2005, when Google pledged to increase Gmail inbox storage space, the company “promised to keep giving Gmail users more space as we were able” in a blog post announcing its “Infinity+1 storage plan,” a program to boost storage slowly over the coming years.

The massive inbox increase could give Google an even more drastic lead in college customers using outsourced eMail services.

Nearly 60 percent of survey respondents from public universities who use eMail hosting services said their campus uses Gmail accounts, with 35 percent using Microsoft Outlook and 5 percent using Zimbra, according to the Campus Computing Project’s 2010 survey, unveiled at the EDUCAUSE educational technology conference in Anaheim, Calif. last October.

The disparity is even greater at private universities, where more than seven in 10 respondents said their school uses Gmail accounts, according to the research. Twenty-five percent said they use Microsoft.

Kenneth C. Green, founder and director of the Campus Computing Project, said outsourcing eMail for students is easier than doing so for faculty for two reasons: Many students already have Gmail accounts, and “faculty resistance” to using a web-based service controlled by a company rather than the university still exists.

Overall, six in 10 survey respondents said their colleges or universities use eMail hosting services for students, and 15 percent for faculty members.

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