Over the break, St. Mary’s staff have enacted online changes. Campus Technology Support Services has switched student, faculty, and staff email from Webmail to Gmail. The main website for SMCM also now has a new Newsroom for press releases, a guide to experts willing to talk to news outlets about particular subjects, and a social media directory.
With regard to the change from Webmail to Gmail, Assistant Director of User Support and Learning Technology Services Jenifer Wright explained the many advantages of switching to Gmail. These advantages include retaining access to email if the internet or the servers on campus stop functioning. She also noted how Google apps, like Google docs or Google calendar, could help encourage, “sharing and collaborative work in and out of the classroom.”
Wright expressed confidence with Google security measures, saying, “Google is compliant with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and that was a key issue when discussing whether these were appropriate and secure tools. The U.S. Department of Education defines FERPA as the, “Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.” It ensures the privacy of school records.
The main problem tech services has had with the change is students getting locked out of their accounts due to other devices trying to access their old Webmail account. Wright recommends that students with this problem, “Remove accounts from devices that try to access webmail, like from a cellular phone.” She also said, “Our biggest recommendation is that everyone gets password manager, a program that syncs all accounts related to your SMCM password.” Tech services released a “Going Google” website that has all of this information and more, including troubleshooting, training videos, and a sign-up list for training sessions for anyone who feels like they need more practice.
The main website for SMCM has also changed. On Jan. 14, the main SMCM website launched Newsroom. Before, the website presented news stories as a list of links that would lead the reader to different pages on the SMCM website. Media and Marketing Specialist for the Office of External Relations Arminta Stanfield explained some of the changes saying, “each article has social media components. You can filter news via categories…and we are creating a repository of Faculty Profiles.” She also noted that a more appealing design was one of the reasons for the change.
The Newsroom also has a new Social Media Directory. Stanfield explained the purpose of this, stating, “when people come on our website they won’t have to search page to page to see if a club or department uses a specific type of social media or has a website. Our site functions as a one stop shop where everything is collected.” The Newsroom also provides links to the athletics website, Hawk Radio, The Point News, and The Mulberry Tree. Stanfield says that now there are “a little over 60 accounts listed” in the Social Media Directory and that, “it will be updated as submissions come in.”
The Newsroom also contains an Expert’s Guide meant to direct news media to professors of specific subjects. Currently there are only three professors listed, Dr. Asif Dowla, Dr. Todd Eberly, and Dr. Joshua Grossman, but Stanfield made sure to say, “I want to emphasize that it is a work in progress, we’re always going to improve it and advance it as time goes by.” She also added, “It will grow, it’s a great resource, and I hope people will find it useful.”