Office 365 Comes to UNO
Students Receive New State-of-the-Art Email System, New Apps to Help Transform Learning Experience
The University of New Orleans unveils a new email system for students today: Office 365 for Education.
"There's a bunch of cool stuff coming. The big initial change will be the size of the student mailbox. Students currently have a mailbox of 10G, which is huge, but they're going to have a 25G mailbox," said Walt Brannon, messaging systems team leader for the University Computer Center.
"The student could start and do a four-year degree and two years of grad school and keep it all -- make folders and organize. There's enough space to do undergraduate and graduate degrees all in one mailbox and not have to delete anything but trash."
The aggressive initiative to keep UNO students at the forefront of technology and provide them all the Web applications and tools they need to be successful in today's world has been a team effort at the UCC, said Brannon, who named UNO Chief Information Officer Jim Burgard "a driving force." The new email system is a cloud-sharing tool and provides lifetime accounts for students who graduate from the University. The transfer from "Live@Edu," which was essentially a Hotmail account, transitions students to Office 365 for Education at a level comparative to that of massive business corporations, Brannon said.
"This is transitioning students to the full business-class Office 365," he said.
The new system will be introduced in several phases. Today marks the first phase, in which students mailboxes will be converted to the larger mailbox, Brannon said. The second phase, anticipated during the fall semester, will upgrade services to the latest version of Office 365.
"When that's complete, [Microsoft] will implement a license upgrade which will allow students things like instant messaging and web conferencing and collaboration tools with Microsoft Lync," said Brannon, a champion of the tool already used in many UNO offices. "Lync is Skype on steroids."
An Education Insights article by Anthony Salcito called the email system "a game changer for teaching and learning" and said that Lync online, expected at UNO this fall, will allow teachers to create "fun personalized learning experiences."
"Students must be more than consumers. They need to be creators. They need to know how to communicate and collaborate with others," wrote Salcito. "Teachers can create curriculum, record lectures and publish them on online class sites in the cloud where students are able to view, open, produce, edit and share their homework. Office 365 provides new ways to extend classroom teaching time and distance learning, tutor students online and whiteboard ideas," he wrote.
"Students can engage in ad hoc instant messaging or video chats to collaborate on class projects in real-time, regardless of where they're working or on what device. They can create documents with Office Web Apps that provides the same features as the desktop version of Microsoft Office, share class notes by synchronizing OneNote notebooks, and create digital portfolios.
The free system is now transforming education communication worldwide, the article said.
Brannon described Lync as "the business version of Skype." During the second phase of the upgrade, new features will be added including the App versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, as well as Instant Messaging and Web conferencing with Lync. Students will be able to work on a Powerpoint presentation and Lync it, (read: Instant Message) it to a friend, and have the document returned with comments within minutes as they live chat on the system.
Through a system change at Microfsoft, Lync will soon be officially federated with Skype to allow messaging back and forth to Skype and Google Voice, Brannon said.
"The Lync is going to be very powerful. Real exciting," said Brannon. "It's a big web interface."
Other upcoming changes impact SkyDrive, an online file storage and file sharing system to which students already have access, but which now resides on the uno.edu mail system.
"Microsoft is going to split those accounts off and students will have those accounts forever," said Brannon, who said that in the future SkyDrive, which is similar to Dropbox and other file sharing accounts, will not be managed by the University. "They will be able to add existing or free space if they want to."
There will be no interruption of email today as the UCC upgrades student UNO email to Office 365 for education. Students may also always refer questions to the UCC Help Desk at firstname.lastname@example.org or
by phone at 504-280-4357.