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UITS says Umail transition will streamline student experience



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Starting March 19, students will no longer have access to their email accounts via Umail. Several steps can be taken to ensure they continue receiving their emails. Mallory Smith Buy Photos

Students are being asked to change their emails from @umail.iu.edu to @iu.edu over spring break. This will switch students away from Umail and to a new Google at IU service.

The upgrade will take advantage of future updates to Google’s services and tools such as Google Docs, Google Slides and Google Hangouts.

University Information Technology Services announced the update in an email Feb. 1.

"The experience should be seamless, and you really should see nominal change," said Matthew Gunkel, director of teaching and learning technologies at UITS.

Since the announcement, some students and alumni who still use their IU emails have expressed concern about the service switch. Some students are worried they won't receive email sent to their old Umail email addresses.

“Especially with something like job searches, if you get an offer sent to your email and you don’t see it, that’s not good,” senior Emily Wilets said.

Gunkel said people should not be concerned. All messages sent to Umail will be forwarded to their new email accounts. If for some reason UITS needs to get into a student’s Umail, Gunkel said, it can get in and look for something that appears to be missing.

People may still use the @indiana.edu email address and the messages will be forwarded to the main @iu.edu domain.

“It’s not like we're moving to a completely different service," Gunkel said. “The end user experience, besides logging in with a slightly different username, really should remain unchanged.”

Gunkel said in the last two years, UITS released G Suite at IU, which gives students access to Google apps. Through that service, Gunkel said it became obvious UITS needed to think about potentially upgrading to keep up with changes to services and tools provided by Google.

Wilets was searching for jobs last semester and said she gave out her email as @umail.iu.edu, and until UITS announced the upgrade in an email, she planned on keeping it.

“I was pretty pissed when I saw the email,” Wilets said.

She was skeptical that email would forward to the new address. Forwarding from the @indiana.edu email address to her Umail address has been hit or miss in the past, she explained.

Gunkel said there have been routing issues with Umail, but the coming upgrade should fix forwarding from alternate domains.

According to the UITS website, students will need to log in to Google at IU by March 11 to switch to the new service. If students do not do so, IU will be unable to change their email to the new service, and they will have to continue using Umail.

 If the deadline comes and some students have not transferred to the new service, Gunkel said UITS will work actively with users to to get everyone to make the transition.  

Former students' emails will not be changed, Gunkel said.

Wilets said she thinks the switch to everyone using an @iu.edu, @indiana.edu or campus-specific addresses such as @iupui.edu will clear up some confusion with emails eventually.

“It’s going to help streamline it and make it more consistent,” Wilets said.

However, Wilets said she wishes Umail would have been phased out over time so upperclassmen wouldn’t have to worry about it.

Gunkel said UITS considered phasing Umail out gradually, but doing so just wasn’t supported by Google in an effective fashion and would have required UITS to create different ways to support users and instructions for those using different services.

“It was imperative to move everyone collectively together,” Gunkel said.

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