Students, staff transition to Gmail

Grayslake North has already implemented a switch from Outlook to Gmail in a pilot team of teachers and plans on switching the student body and staff over at the end of the semester on Dec 18.
According to director of technology Michael Marassa, notifications will be easier with student Chromebooks, and Gmail will also work on student phones and other mobile devices, making it easier to stay connected to teachers.
“Last year I was in a meeting with the principal of Grayslake North and the principal of Grayslake Central,” Marassa said. “They both expressed an interest to switch to Gmail. Their rationale was twofold. First, they believed that Gmail would make access to email communication easier for students. The second reason was that District 127 students and faculty were already using many tools of the GSuite. Why not leverage and integrate all the tools so that we could collaborate on the same platform?”
District 127 has hired a company to help the IT team with mailbox creation, policies and security, and training videos. The technology department has been using Gmail and calendar for about five weeks. Sixty teachers, administrative assistants, and administrators have switched over as part of a pilot team in hopes that they will ease the transition for the rest of the staff and student body.
“We are having some training events that we can show up to in person, but that we can also review as they are being recorded and broadcast on the web so we can review them,” said pilot team member, and English teacher Patrick Green.
Even though the switch presents many new opportunities, there are challenges that have already presented themselves to the pilot team.
“One challenge I have already encountered is trying to merge my home Gmail to my school Gmail calendar,” Green said. “ I have tried a couple different ways, but I have yet to be successful. Gmail and Outlook look very different, and that is going to take some getting used to for me and a lot of other people.”
However, according to technology integration specialist Tom New, the benefits of Gmail outweigh the challenges of the transition.
“Simply put, the benefits of being all on the same platform far outweigh any of the stress in transition or staying with our current email and calendar system. For example, an overlooked advantage to the switch is better communication between students and teachers via email,” said technology integration specialist Tom New.