Google Apps enable calendar sharing and collaborations

Transition begins around July 1 for faculty, staff, grad students

During the next few months Information Technology (IT) staff will help Rice faculty, staff and graduate students migrate to Google Calendar and use other Google Apps for Education at Rice.

These applications (apps) are online tools that anyone with a Rice NetID can use for scheduling meetings, for sharing documents, calendars and websites and for other Rice collaborations. All events and files created or uploaded in Rice’s Google Apps are restricted to Rice-only sharing, so users have to log in with a Rice NetID to view them.

Rice began a pilot program to test Google Apps in 2008 while searching for an alternative to the Oracle Calendar system, which the vendor no longer supports. The students played a large role in the decision process when the Student Association unanimously voted to move to Google. This past April, Rice contracted with Google to allow faculty, staff and graduate students to use Google Calendar, Docs, Sites, Groups and several other apps.

The Google contract also moves Rice undergraduate students to Gmail, but faculty, staff and graduate students will continue using the current Rice email system.

“This has been a thoughtful process centered around solutions with campuswide benefits,” said Barry Ribbeck, director of systems, infrastructure, architecture and cloud initiatives for IT.  “IT will monitor the transition and answer questions as faculty and staff adapt to the new calendar system and other apps.”

Ribbeck expects the transition process to begin around July 1. Faculty and staff who are still using Oracle Calendar will be moved to Google Calendar individually with assistance from their department’s IT representative. Faculty, staff and students who have been testing Rice Google Apps are being migrated individually to the new system.

Faculty, staff and students who have never logged into Google have to accept the Google terms of service before they can use Google Apps. They also have to set up a Rice Google password that is different from their Rice NetID password. This can be done at After these steps have been completed, faculty, staff and students can log in to Google Apps at

Carlyn Chatfield, manager of IT technical communications, noted that anyone who has previously created a Google account with as part of their user name might need to contact the IT Help Desk at 713-348-4357 to set up their new Rice Google password. “If you get a message saying that you haven’t been provisioned, that means Google sees your old ID, and we have to authorize the use of that ID for your Rice Google password,” Chatfield said.

A number of Rice faculty and staff have already been using Google Apps. Dan Wallach, associate professor of computer science and of electrical and computer engineering, said his research group uses Google Calendar to coordinate their schedules. “We also use Google Docs for brainstorming and other casual documents,” he said. “I recently used Google Docs to coordinate the writing of some technical specs with nine authors spread over the country. The real-time shared editing facilities of Google Docs are invaluable to keep your co-authors from stepping on each other’s toes. For many common tasks, Google Docs do everything we need.”

“What I like most about Google Apps is that everything runs through an Internet browser,” said Christopher Bronk, a fellow in information technology policy at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. “The user doesn’t need to worry about maintaining software on their computer anymore. Also, as Google adds features, they are piped out to all users, pretty much instantaneously.”

For a list of the Google Apps that can be accessed with a Rice NedID, visit This site also includes a link to FAQs about Google Apps for Education at Rice.

Questions about Rice Google Apps should be directed to the IT Help Desk at 713-348-4357 or

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