Disclaimer: I work for Google as an SA and I'm an MSU alumnus.
I'm a bit unsure of a few things as I watch the numerous discussions
about replacing MSU's e-mail systems. I was a student at MSU just a
year ago, so I hope nothing has drastically changed in my absence
regarding e-mail lest I say something utterly silly.
A fundamental problem I see is that users want a one-stop-shop for
e-mail. All their mail goes to one place, they filter it there,
respond, delete, etc... For many users this is an IMAP or POP3 client
of some kind that connects to all their accounts, for others, it's a
web-based mail system. However even at MSU some students are given
I think many students (and students are whom I speak for, having never
been full time staff) dislike having multiple e-mail accounts. I had
3 (msu, cse, egr) all of which forwarded to egr (egr had the most
space) and later to gmail due to space. If we consider CSE students
also taking Engineering courses as outliers, that still leaves all
engineering students with two accounts. I am not aware of other
departments and whether or not they give mail accounts to
undergraduates. I question slightly why cse and egr give out e-mail
accounts to students at all; although I can imagine it was due to how
horrific mail.msu.edu was at one point in time (perhaps even now).
Going back to the one-stop-shop for e-mail; I don't think MSU should
be the place where students send their mail. Students send a lot of
e-mail (as you very well know) and maybe five or ten years ago it was
feasible to route and store e-mail for every student. However use of
e-mail has increased astronomically (not to mention spam, but we all
know how bad that is). Students don't often differentiate between a
school and personal account, often signing up with their school
account for non-educational things. This is not necessarily a bad
thing (we should encourage growth and learning and so forth) but it
presents interesting challenges when not only are you routing and
storing education-related mail, but someones facebook and myspace
updates as well.
So if I may present a few high level questions.
What is the goal of MSU's e-mail system (for students)?
There was a question earlier of 'What does MSU have to do to get
people to use our service?' in regards to space versus competing
services. Is having the students use MSU's e-mail a goal of MSU
Due to the flexibility of e-mail (forwarding, filtering, etc) students
can choose whatever service they want with regards to reading and
sending mail. This same flexibility makes it difficult to compete
with other services on certain points: space offered, speed of the
service, convenience (think remote users).
My guess as to the goal of MSU e-mail for students is to provide a
means for student / teacher / community interaction. E-mail is a
powerful tool and every student should have the means to use it.
However I don't think it is possible to 'win back' those students who
have already gone the webmail route. The 'competition' has more
space, is possibly faster, and certainly easier to work with from many
machines (no IMAP client required for webmail).
Is the fact that students are no longer using MSU's e-mail a concern?
Does it matter which e-mail service they use as long as the channels
for communication remain open? The only thing I can think of is
forwarding mail from MSU to Gmail might bring problems with FERPA, but
I am not familiar enough with FERPA to comment.
On 8/30/07, Robert Kriegel <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> A couple of days ago John Resotko posted a message in this thread with the
> following URL that includes info about Goggle's FERPA compliance:
> This article indicates that as part of its FERPA compliance Google does not
> scan student e-mail; hence they do not display targeted ads to students,
> just faculty and staff (still a large volume of e-mail).
> As for permanent MSU associated e-mail addresses, doesn't the MSU alumni
> association already do this with the existing system for their members?
> Many departments also do this for non-MSU employees (volunteers, etc.) who
> are closely affiliated with their programs. In the context of this
> discussion, I do not see a 'permanent' GMail account as a benefit of
> sufficient value to help sway the decision either way.
> Bob Kriegel
> systems analyst,
> Dept of Animal Science, MSU
> At 08:58 AM 8/30/2007, you wrote:
> The cost of outsourcing mail - is ads in the mail.
> The benefit to the outsourcer is income from scanning for hot words and
> putting in ads.
> if one puts ads in ten percent and charges $.001 per ad the outsourcer
> gets $1000. per million mails.
> How many mails does mail.msu.edu pass each day?
> Maybe we need to consider adding mails from potential employers or media
> companies. Or at least offer the option to students on an opt in basis.
> Yes, I know there are a LOT of reasons not to do that. ;-)
> One benefit of outsourcing is being left out of the current discussion.
> Permanent mail addresses. We can't offer that at present. Google, Hotmail,
> Yahoo, etc. can.
> Don Bosman
> Information Technologist
> Libraries, Michigan State University