It’s been two years since a Trent student suggested Google Apps for Education to Trent’s Information Technology (IT) department.  That student was told to talk to the Trent Central Student Association (TCSA) about it and this September we have all been welcomed to the school year with a news bulletin about our new Google Apps for Education accounts. The accounts will function in place of our NetMail accounts, with added features of extra space, Google calendar, Google Sites to make group work easier and Google Talk. Trent email addresses will not change and will remain the primary line of communication between the university and students.  Furthermore email accounts will still be accessible through the portal, under the email tab.  Google Apps for Education should not be mistaken with GMail – any existing personal accounts a student has with GMail will be unchanged by the Universities transition and while school account email can still be pushed to personal accounts, it will not happen automatically.

The transition for students, as it is currently laid out, should be without hassle. When proposed, and at Universities across Canada, a primary question regarding the implementation of Google Apps for Education has been Google’s stance on user privacy.  As an American company Google is subject to American privacy laws, even in dealings with international clients.  That being said, Google is known to store client information.  In Trent’s arrangements with Google, as with other Canadian universities, an addendum has been added to the agreement to insist Google comply with Canadian laws in dealings with Trent Student’s Apps for Education accounts.  The University confirms that it has read over the agreement carefully and is satisfied with the protection offered to students.

For anyone not converted to Google’s Apps, NetMail is still an available option.  Users may Opt-Out of using Google Apps on their own, but will have to contact the IT department should they change their mind and wish to Opt-In.