Google Apps in Blackboard

When VCCS students, faculty, and staff log in to My VCCS to access their Gmail accounts after the Blackboard upgrade on May 17th-18th, they will notice that they have a host of new Google apps available to them. During the scheduled outage, not only will Blackboard Learn be upgraded to Service Pack 11, which includes new features like a survey tool and the on-the-fly embedded video tool, Video Everywhere, but VCCS’s Google Apps for Education tool set will also be expanded from its current set of core apps–Gmail, Docs, Calendar,Sites, and so on– to a broad selection of new “consumer” apps, such as YouTube, Google+, Maps, Books, Picasa, etc. There will be twenty-one new apps activated in all. These new apps will provide VCCS students, faculty, and staff with access to an even more powerful suite of cloud-based teaching, learning, social, and communication tools that can be used both in and outside of the classroom.

Google Apps TOS (click to enlarge)

However, there are some crucial steps that all students, faculty, and staff need to take to successfully access any Google Apps, including Gmail, after the upgrade. First, once these consumer apps are enabled, everyone in the VCCS domain must click through and agree to a new consumer Terms of Service (TOS) when they next login. No Google Apps can be accessed until users agree to these new TOS.

Second, when setting up a profile in Google Plus (G+), a Facebook-like social networking service included in the upgrade, it is especially important that users enter their correct date of birth. If they include a date of birth indicating they are younger than 13, they will be permanently locked out of all Google services. This cannot be undone without significant effort and additional costs.

While these steps are relatively easy to accomplish and will only be required once, it is important that all users, especially students, are aware of them in order for the upgrade to go as smoothly as possible. To that end, it is crucial that this information be shared widely with students, faculty, and staff at all 23 VCCS  colleges.

More information about VCCS Google Apps for Education can be found at http://www.email.vccs.edu/extra-apps (built with Google Sites, by the way). Or feel free to contact Tech Services at helpdesk (at) vccs.edu.