Why does OCC use Google Apps?

By providing a system where everyone has communication access to everyone else in a common interface, we hope to remove many of the barriers of communication between students, faculty, staff, administration and alumni. Google has combined powerful communication methods like email, chat, voicemail, phone calls, document sharing and website creation into a single, unified system which is easy to use and cheaper than expensive alternatives. We moved to this system to help spur our students and faculty to communicate better, faster, and easier than ever before.

How will this help?

The OMAP system is designed to make work easier and faster by bringing everyone into a common interface and by providing tools to allow collaboration to happen in real-time. This is not about using technology just for the sake of technology; there are real advantages to using this system:

  • Centralized email repository that is maintained by one of the largest, most respected companies in the world
  • Ability to chat, send pc-to-pc calls and voicemails, email, share documents, and create websites, all within a common, easy to understand interface
  • Constant improvements and updates, administered by Google, with the potential to grow in usage and functionality on our campus
  • Administration and storage cost savings over other email systems

Is this secure?

This is a major concern in today's "connected" world. This issue is compounded in the world of academics, where the general environment is one of open learning, but the safety of our students and staff is a priority. To this end, Google has developed one of the most complex security systems on the planet. This is much more secure than a small email provider can develop. While it is generally assumed that email is NOT a "secure" form of communication, the measures that Google has taken to ensure the privacy of its customers far outweighs other email systems. Google's document storage is designed to be safe and private. However, we strongly discourage putting sensitive financial data or personal information out to any web server.

How does this effect OCC communications?

OCC employee's and students should regularly check their email as this is the primary avenue of official communications! You also have the ability to instant message (chat) with others at OCC directly from the email system (desktop version and via Google apps for smartphones). You can call or text others directly from your email inbox (desktop version).  Your email, contacts, and calendar can all be synchronized to your smartphone. You can create, edit and share documents from Drive. You can create and edit websites from the Sites application. All this and more is accessible directly from your email inbox (desktop version) making it the central place for your communication.

Can I still use my PC based email program, like Outlook or Apple Mail?

Due to the fact that OMAP is an internet based program, accessible from any computer that you may use, it is highly suggested that you move away (as much as possible) from using a PC based program. The limited functionality and collaboration that PC based systems provide is far inferior to the advanced collaboration tools that Google has developed. However, if you wish to continue using them, it is possible to set up. Find out how here.

How do I access my OMAP apps?

You can go to Mail.OCC.edu or to Gmail.com to log into the OMAP system on a desktop computer.  After you login, you'll be taken directly to your inbox. From there, you will find a 3X3 grid icon in the top right corner. Clicking on it will reveal icons for all of the apps you can use.  These apps are also available for your smartphone through the app stores.

What features do we get?

Google provides a number of applications that, when used together, can provide a great enhancement to our communications at Ozark. These applications include:

  • Email -- primary avenue for official OCC communications to employees and students
  • Calendar -- generate, share and/or subscribe to multiple public and/or private event calendars
  • Chat -- built-in to the inbox, this is an Instant Messaging (IM) service
  • Google Hangouts -- downloadable application that allows pc-to-pc calls and live online video broadcasts
  • Sites -- easy to use web site creator
  • Slides -- create presentations similar to PowerPoint
  • Drive -- document creation and file storage
  • Groups -- tagged in the email system as "Forums", these are discussion groups where multiple people can chime in on various topic threads
  • Contacts list -- everyone with an @occ.edu email or @my.occ.edu address will be there

What are the limitations?

OMAP is an online system.  So, if you don't have Internet access you may not be able to access certain things you need from the system.  However, there is a solution for Drive.  You can enable offline files for your Google Documents which allows you to access them while you are disconnected from the Internet.

There may be another limitation for people who use the very specific or advanced features in Outlook. But because Google is so widely used around the globe, many people have devoted countless hours of development to making third-party products that allow most of these issues to be resolved.

Do I have to learn everything?

No. Like any software, you do not need to learn everything all at once. You only need to learn how to do the things you currently need to do (checking email, creating docs, etc). However, as more people adopt and become familiar with the system, you may need to learn how to do more things. For instance, if you currently use email to attach Word documents for others to proofread, you may consider sharing a Google document with them instead. That way their comments can be highlighted, and all revisions will be tracked. This makes collaboration much easier and more efficient, and saves your email inbox from getting cluttered. You can learn new features at your own pace as it becomes necessary to use them.

Where can I go for help?

This website has answers to many of the most common problems with OMAP. However, if you cannot find the answer to your question, Google has provided an extremely comprehensive support site at Support.Google.com.