Monday, October 16, 2006

Like Technology From An Advanced Alien Culture...

Gmail for ASUThe past week was an exciting one for the UTO, as ASU and Google announced at EDUCAUSE the first large scale deployment of Google Apps for Education to the ASU student community. As the chronicle of higher ed put it:

Arizona State University is the first to try Google Apps for Education, and it joined up in a dramatic fashion...

The announcement was the culmination of amazing work by a Kari Barlow led team that included James Palazzolo, Ron Page, Nate Wilken, Jason Pratt, Noel Lindner, Jeff Nickoloff, Anish Adalja, Xavier Valencia, and Joe McDonald. In just under two weeks, ASU and Google managed to:

  • Integrate ASU’s single sign-on, allowing students to use their existing ASURite UserID to login to Gmail for ASU

  • Modify the EMMA client to allow student users to convert to Gmail for ASU with a single click.

  • Create a staggering 65,000 new Gmail for ASU accounts

  • Create clear messaging to communicate the news to the ASU community and to the world

On the day of the announcement, students were converting to Gmail for ASU at the rate of 300 an hour.

At the announcement at EDUCAUSE, I told the group that this was a story of speed. In addition to providing an exciting new service for students, ASU’s UTO was using the Google alliance as a way to demonstrate the agility of the New American University. The feat that Google and ASU achieved in the past fortnight displayed a nimbleness that rivals the best of what Silicon Valley can do. Building a reputation for agility is critical to the success of our technology alliance strategy, and we made a big stride this week.

But perhaps more importantly, by partnering with Google, ASU was able to dramatically accelerate its technology development curve, an acceleration that will be core to achieving the New American University Vision.

As everyone in the Valley of the Sun is by now aware, President Crow is reshaping Arizona State into a new kind of institution, a New American University that uniquely combines Academic Excellence, Access, and Impact. The New American University is a reconception of the 20th century research university intended to meet the new challenges and capitilize on the new opportunities presented by the 21st century. At its core, the New American University will define itself not by who it excludes, but by who it includes; it will distinguish itself by the quality of its output, rather than the quality of its input.

The United States has many excellent universities, that in many ways represent the highest expression of higher education. But these institutions at the very pinnacle of academic excellence serve only the relative few, and this by design. Central to their strategy for continued excellence is extreme selectivity in the students they serve. The United States also has many colleges and universities that provide access to higher education, struggling to make the experience affordable and valuable to the masses not served by the nation’s elite schools. As demand for higher education grows, and the gap between excellent and “adequate” accelerates, the tiered approach will not suffice.

At ASU we believe that to serve the American people's growing need for higher education excellence, a new way must be found, one that combines academic excellence and access in a single institution. But to attain this goal – to reach out to twice as many students, to support the success of a diverse student population of uneven preparation, all the while maintaining academic excellence – will require new ways of thinking, new ways of teaching, new ways of supporting and guiding learners that yield better results at comparable cost. Many of these new approaches will be based on a continual infusion of emerging technologies, skillfully applied to accelerate the advancement of teaching and research.

The exploding potential of information technology is the most promising and hopeful development of our age. Each day capability expands, and each day it becomes more affordable. Such powerful gifts are rare in the history of the human race.

But to realize the potential of this technological “golden goose” in higher education, we all have a long way to go. You don’t have to take my word for it. In his book the Creation of the Future, Dr. Frank Rhodes, president emeritus of Cornell, points out that:

in the basic business of teaching resident students, universities have not diverged much from the methods of Socrates, except that most faculty members have now moved inside.

[P]aradoxically, the research universities, which created and developed much of the new communications technology, have been slow to apply it to their main stream activities.

Most instruction is still a cottage industry, little influenced as yet by the benefits and support of modern technology. It is as though an industry had computerized its business and management activities, but left its manufacturing operations and sales distribution essentially unchanged and unimproved.

At ASU we have recognized that the accelerated pace of technological change is outstripping the development capacity of internal university IT organizations. The cottage industry phase of the information revolution is rapidly approaching its end.

Alone v. Allied

Regular readers of this blog will recognize the curve on the left from a previous post, outlining how the fate of "Near Followers" in technology would be to fall further and further behind industry leaders like Google and Amazon. ASU recognizes that if we are to realize the full potential of this rapidly evolving technology, our internal IT organizations must somehow leave behind the provisioning of individual services and climb the value chain to focus on the application and integration of rapidly emerging capabilities to continuously improve the university's core activities.

Which is why we are so excited by our alliance with Google -- because the Google alliance not only provides a vastly superior capability for our students on the day we unwrap the box it places ASU on Google's exponential technology development trajectory.

The range of technology solutions that Google is putting forward, at the speed and scale that they have proven they can deliver them, is sparking nothing short of a revolution in the IT business, completely changing the paradigm for how hardware/software solutions are created and delivered. Allying with Google g ives ASU access not only to today's innovative Google Apps suite -- that is an order of magnitude better than what ASU could field on its own -- but it also puts ASU on an accelerated technology trajectory that is capable of keeping pace with the leaders in the field

ASU’s new challenge -- at least in this applications segment -- switched over night from the provisioning of email, IM and calendaring service to the intelligent integration of Google's rapidly evolving collaboration and communications suite into the academic enterprise as fast as our little legs can carry us.

We hope that Google Apps for Education is the tip of the iceberg and look forward to working with the Google Apps team -- and other parts of the Google enterprise -- to help harness their unprecedented technology engine in the service of higher education.

Rock on!


Cameron Scholtz October 16, 2006 at 9:09 AM  

Kewlness. I wonder if anyone else at ASU bought GOOG shares the previous week ;)

Toni Farley October 30, 2006 at 3:31 PM  

Gmail rocks! This was a great idea. Now I want to combine my existing Gmail account with my shiny new ASU Gmail for easier searching. Can we find a way to just move the old messages to the new account? I also want to set the mailto links on the web to open ASU Gmail (they currently open just plain Gmail).

And yes, I'm the proud owner of several GOOGs. I add to the collection whenever I can :)

Dirk October 30, 2006 at 5:55 PM  

Ha! Isn't that what they call "frontrunning"? :-)

Brian MacKinney,  November 6, 2006 at 2:35 AM  

One small downside is the loss of Outlook integration for email addresses. Hopefully this will be remedied soon.

Brooks Travis November 16, 2006 at 3:16 AM  

I wouldn't see the loss of Outlook integration as a problem (it's the meth of "productivity" apps), but if you desperately want to keep using it to read and write your e-mails, you can always set up POP access in Outlook for your gmail account. You just need to activate it in your gmail settings and follow the attendant instructions. As for calendar support, I hear rumblings that the new version of outlook will support the CalDAV standard, as will Google calendar.

Keep up the good work!

The Real Paul Jones » Arizona State to GMail in 2 weeks or less December 20, 2006 at 12:05 AM  

[...] Here’s an impressive story about how ASU moved their campus email to GMail in less that 2 weeks including a one click conversion from campus email to GMail and integration of the ASU single signon in to GMail. [...]

Phil Dixon,  December 20, 2006 at 12:04 PM  

Rock on indeed!

University Technology Officer » Blog Archive » Work-Life Balance January 2, 2007 at 2:37 AM  

[...] There is an interesting article in the 2006 Holiday issue of The Economist that covers ASU’s technology alliance strategy. It uses ASU’s embracing of Google Apps for Education and Apple’s Itunes University as examples of how “consumer technologies are invading corporate computing”. The article has an unusual title, “Work-Life Balance“, describing not the usual balance we all must strike between work and family, but instead the balance that companies must now strike between their use of consumer technologies and more specialized “business-grade” technologies. [...]

Rich Lemon,  January 3, 2007 at 2:47 AM  

When will gmail be ready for faculty and staff? I use gmail at home and love it. I am looking forward to using it at ASU.

Adrian Sannier January 21, 2007 at 1:01 PM  

Interested ASU faculty should contact Ron Page (

Roy Bell January 25, 2007 at 6:20 AM  

I just wish they'd work on making this work with Outlook and other POP3 readers. Then it would be perfect!

Steve,  April 7, 2007 at 12:53 PM  

I'm disappointed with Gmail-- I just wasted 2 hours trying to follow the instructions for setting up POP to access Gmail from Apple mail-- the instructions that are provided from my account-- only to find that these apparently don't apply to those of us at ASU. Of course, ASU likes to use comparisons with other PAC-10 schools to justify raising tuition costs, parking fees, etc., but don't mention that smaller schools don't require students to have independent ISP's to access the internet, email, and University servers (one of our "hidden" costs). So, of course it is critical for students to be able to integrate their emails through ISPs, and the University using POP or IMAP, and the newly touted "Gmail for ASU" doesn't let us do that. Glad to hear Crow is saving some cash, but sad to see it is at student expense and frustration. On the other hand, I should be glad I didn't waste more time trying to get Gmail set up on my Mac. I'll go spend some more time trying to get Gmail dis-enabled now.

Kari Barlow April 11, 2007 at 5:17 AM  

I am sincerely sorry about your frustration with the Gmail for ASU service. The ability to use POP3 with Gmail for ASU is available, but it does not use ASU Single Sign on. There is a tool that will allow you to manually set your Gmail for ASU password located at It’s important to remember that this password does not sync with your ASURITE credentials. Your username, in the case of Gmail for ASU, is simply

These credentials, once established, will allow you to use your POP client as well as the Google Talk application.

We will continue to strive to provide technology services that meet student needs and your feedback is always welcome.

shapwolf,  April 20, 2007 at 5:57 AM  

Thanks! This works and I’m able to access my ASU gmail account with POP3 clients. The missing pieces are in the Gmail help screens; use for server name; port 995 SSL outgoing. Still not sure if we should use authenticated smtp and use for sending or; either take port 465 and SSL but obviously different authentication settings. Need to do some testing to see how the reply-to field comes back in each case, as only one would (obviously) go though the EPO rewrite.

Hope there is a good write-up coming for this; we have a lot of faculty asking us for when this will be ready! Thanks for letting us know about the work-around.

RaymonWazerri April 20, 2007 at 9:42 AM  

I love what you'e doing!
Don't ever change and best of luck.

Raymon W.

Corla July 23, 2007 at 9:31 PM  

"Arizona State University is the first to try Google Apps for Education" - its true??

Bret,  August 25, 2007 at 10:43 AM  

I have been trying to set up my pop account like Steve and was really frustrated after not being able to for many hours. I now come on here and find that the instructions available in the help section of my ASU Gmail account are completely wrong. Even worse, the link provided by Kari Barlow, that helped some, does not seem to be working now. I sincerely hope that this problem is resolved and that the proper method of setting up POP3 e-mail access is well publicised to students and faculty of ASU.

Kari Barlow,  August 30, 2007 at 7:31 AM  

Hi again,
I am tracking down the link problem. Bret, if you want to email me at, Id be happy to find you some one-to-one help. Sorry for the problem.

Geld Lenen December 27, 2007 at 7:00 AM  


Will it also be for me as an exchange student possible to work with this?

Many thanks,


The Netherlands

Yurtdisi Egitim March 7, 2008 at 4:04 AM  

is there any one who knows any source about this subject in other languages?

last June 6, 2008 at 9:02 AM  

Ha! Isn’t that what they call “frontrunning”?