By Colter Hettich, Features Editor
A 1978 bus, plastered with the colorful letters G-O-O-G-L-E, parked between the GATA fountain and the Campus Center Monday morning.
Google’s “App to School” campaign brought much more than Frisbees and free T-shirts to ACU’s campus – it brought recognition.
Google, one of the most relevant and recognized dot-com companies in the nation, chose 10 universities that have implemented Google Apps in an efficient and impressive fashion.
Those 10 schools are the stops in a cross-country road trip that promotes Google Apps on the technologically advanced campuses. Other selected campuses include University of Indiana, Notre Dame University, University of Southern California
Jamie Casap, Google business and development manager, said ACU stood out to the “App to School” team because of the breadth with which ACU has integrated Google Apps.
“ACU is one of the first to use Google Apps . and one unique thing about ACU is they launched Google Apps for everyone,” Casap said. “[ACU] is on the cutting edge of technology and already have a technological infrastructure set up. We like that kind of thing.”
Google released Google Apps for Education in October 2006. The company did extensive trial and error testing at Arizona State University before making it available to all institutions.
James Langford, ACU director of Web integration and programming, said ACU reserved a domain with Google Apps almost immediately after its release. With the previous system, Sun Microsystems, ACU had to program everything but the e-mail client.
“Part of the reason we went with it was because there was no way [we] could do things as well as Google,” Langford said. “We had more than one all-nighter when systems would crash or fail; nobody was really excited about the system we had.”
After months of deliberation and testing, ACU joined the Google Apps team in April 2007.
Kevin Roberts, ACU chief information officer, said although many of the current Google Apps tools were not available at the time, the switch changed everything.
“It made a significant difference for us,” Roberts said. “In one instance we were able to move a full-time email administrator to a full-time developer position. A lot of the applications we have developed were designed by him and probably never would have happened otherwise.”
Casap said the number of students they encountered who already had working knowledge of many of the applications and tools pleasantly surprised the Google crew. Casap also commended the university on the success so far of the iPhone initiative.
Although Roberts received ACU’s “App to School” invitation a month ago, his eye is
still on the future.
“I hope that everyone recognizes they’re going to continue to see things like this from ACU,” Roberts said. “We’re going to continue to push the envelope.”
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