Algonquin College wanted to better serve the new wave of digital-age students by making email and other productivity applications available to them from any device—regardless of their location. By moving to Microsoft Live@edu, a cloud services solution, the institution is reaching its goal of offering educational programs online, while at the same time improving student services and reducing costs.
offers more than 170 full-time programs, including certificates, diplomas, bachelor’s degrees, and graduate programs in applied studies, as well as hundreds of additional part-time and distance education courses. The college recently decided to serve virtual students in addition to traditional students by offering many of its programs and services online. In addition, the college has committed to becoming fully mobile by making it possible for students to access email and other applications anytime, anywhere, from any device.
To meet its goal of better serving the new wave of digital-age students, Algonquin College wanted to move its email system to a cloud model
that would be made available to students from virtually any Internet connection. The college had hosted its own email system for more than a decade. Over the years, however, this email system had become increasingly outdated as a growing number of students sought to access email from mobile devices.
||Students can’t believe they can be anywhere in the world and access their email with Microsoft Outlook from any of their mobile devices.
Professor, Algonquin College
By moving its email system to the cloud using Microsoft Live@edu (link
), Algonquin College could improve its services by offering students access to email anytime, anywhere, while at the same time reducing costs
. “Microsoft had some solutions that we couldn’t equal in terms of storage, in terms of access to services that were far superior to what we were doing,” says Robert Gillett, President of Algonquin College. “We saw an opportunity to stop doing something we weren’t very good at, decrease our costs, and get better service for our students.”
After evaluating other solutions, such as Google Apps for Education, Algonquin College chose Microsoft Live@edu, a set of hosted communication and collaboration services for students. Live@edu provides students with a 10-gigabyte (GB) email inbox through Microsoft Office Outlook Live, document creation and editing through Microsoft Office Web Apps, document collaboration and 25 GB of free file storage on Windows Live SkyDrive storage technology, instant messaging, and video chat—all of which are accessible with the same user ID and password.
The college worked closely with Microsoft to transition its email system to Live@edu. The college’s new service, called Live@AC, was deployed in August 2010. The transition of 34,000 existing student email accounts to the new system was completed over a single weekend. “It’s one of the smoothest transitions we’ve ever gone through on any internal or external server,” says Gillett. “It works, and it works well.”
With Live@edu, Algonquin College has lowered the IT costs associated with purchasing and maintaining its own servers. Even so, the college is able to provide its students with a robust set of features for producing documents and collaborating on them in a highly secure manner. Perhaps most important, Live@edu has enabled students to become fully mobile by offering them access to their email accounts and other productivity applications—regardless of their location.
By moving its email system to Live@edu, Algonquin College has eliminated the cost of purchasing and maintaining its own servers. In addition, the college has dramatically expanded its student storage quota from 60 megabytes to 25 GB without the accompanying increase in storage costs. “We’ve basically found a way to offer superior service to our students while reducing our IT administration costs,” says Gillett. “That’s hard to beat for a university working within a tight budget.”
Ease of Use
By choosing Live@edu, Algonquin College was able to eliminate the need for training by giving students an easy-to-use service based on familiar Microsoft technologies
. Many Algonquin College students already know how to use Microsoft Office applications and are able to make the transition to Live@AC seamlessly without spending time coming up to speed. “I’ve grown up on Windows my whole life,” says Kristopher Lloyd, a student at Algonquin College. “It’s very familiar. And to have all those web apps— including Microsoft Word Web App and Excel Web App—now I can pull them up on any computer.”
Robust Features and Security
Compared to other solutions the college researched, Live@edu offers a wider set of productivity features, superior document fidelity, and the top-level security it was seeking. Microsoft Office Web Apps has more capabilities and fewer compatibility issues than competing cloud-based productivity solutions, according to college officials. In addition, security has been simplified with Windows Live ID
, which lets students sign into multiple services using the same email address and password. “We were looking for a cloud-based solution that was robust, easy to use, and had good security features,” says Michael McPhail, a Program Manager at Algonquin College. “The more we looked at it, the more we liked Microsoft.”
Improved Service Offerings for Students
Moving to Live@edu has made it possible for students to access email, productivity applications, and other critical college information anytime, anywhere, from a wide range of devices
. This, in turn, has helped the college take a large step toward its goal of becoming a virtual college. “Students can’t believe they can be anywhere in the world and access their email with Microsoft Outlook from any of their mobile devices,” says Shirley Hauck, a teacher at Algonquin College. “Whether they have a smartphone or a tablet, they can get their email anywhere in the world, without having software installed on that specific computer.”
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