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Northern Arizona University will outsource its student e-mail system and has been soliciting feedback on which platform to adopt.

More than 1,300 students—including about 200 at statewide sites—already are involved in a Blackboard Vista “course,” evaluating Microsoft’s Life@edu, Google and Yahoo in an effort to replace the Dana e-mail system.

Representatives from the Provost’s Academic Advisory Council and the Steering Committee for Academic Computing have been encouraged to participate in the voting and discussions.

“Our current student e-mail system, Dana, is extremely cost effective. However, it has reached its capacity limit and offers only a fraction of what the outsourced solutions will give us,” said John Campbell, director of Information Technology Services. “An upgrade to Dana would have been required this year. Going with one of these three services will be a better use of scarce resources.”

Although overall services are considered “free,” NAU will maintain the interfaces to the new services, manage acceptable use policy issues, research faculty/student e-mail logs, provide help-desk support and maintain records and e-mail authentication services for students and alumni.

“Basically, we can freeze our current expenses and provide many more services to a larger base,” Campbell said.

Anyone who wants to participate in selecting the vendor may sign up online, which will allow participants to join a mailing list, where they will get information about vendor presentations along with how to vote.

Here is a schedule of upcoming presentations. Distance Learning students will be invited to participate online.

Microsoft
Oct. 23, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., South Learning Resource Center, room 139
Small group format, a chance to try Microsoft Live@edu and talk with the vendor

2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Cline Library Assembly Hall
Presentation until 3:30, question-and-answer session afterward

Yahoo
Nov. 5, 2 to 3:30 p.m. Cline Library Assembly Hall
Webinar (not in person); presentation until 2:50, question-and-answer session to follow

Google
Nov. 6, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., South Learning Resource Center, room 139
Small group format with a chance to try Google applications and talk with the vendor

2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Cline Library Assembly Hall
Presentation until 3:30, question-and-answer session afterward

A follow-up meeting is planned for Nov. 13 to discuss the vendor options with evaluations collected through the Blackboard Vista course. The deadline for turning in evaluations will be Nov. 19, and a recommendation will go to NAU President John Haeger and Fred Estrella, chief information technology officer, on Nov 21.

The new service should be available to students in January or February.