New student email, perks

Students’ HCC email accounts will migrate to Microsoft 365 over the winter break.

Alyssa Foley, Editor in Chief

HCC’s information technology systems support Director Annette Hearn spoke to the United Student Council on Friday Dec. 4 about the migration of students’ HCC email accounts to Microsoft 365.

Staff and faculty accounts are already being moved. The transition of student accounts will begin after staff migration. Student email accounts will migrate over winter break.

Up till now, school emails were hosted on Microsoft Exchange and stored in HCC’s administrative building. The new system will be hosted in the cloud.

The new system will include many sweet upgrades for students.

Students will be able to download the current Microsoft Office Suite to five personal devices for free. This includes Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Similar packages can cost anywhere from $60-$150.

After students leave HCC, the Microsoft Suite will remain on their devices, but they will have to pay for any further updates. “It knows when someone is no longer here,” noted Hearn.

Students will be given 1 TB of free encrypted cloud storage in OneDrive for Business. Hearn did not have an exact answer to what will happen to students’ OneDrive account after they leave HCC, but as long as the account exists, students will have access to their files.

With the new system, students have 50 MB of email storage. That’s 100 times more storage than the current Exchange system. Students will also have access to web apps such as OneNote, Sway and Class Notebook.

Don’t worry: students’ current emails and inboxes will move with them. “All your existing email at your account here at HCC, will be migrated for you,” explained Hearn.

There will be no down-time for students. Their accounts will be moved in the background and they can still login like normal. When their individual account has been moved over, they will be prompted to sign-in under the new system instead.

If students have their HCC email on any mobile devices, they will have to delete the account and re-add it. The tech department will be releasing frequently asked questions on such issues soon.

Many students feel like they are a number and not a name when dealing with the school administration. The administration will be changing student email addresses from [email protected] to their student ID number. For example, my student email will change from [email protected] to [email protected]

The administration is literally replacing students’ names with numbers. However, with a free Microsoft Office Suite, students may not be complaining much.

Director Hearn said that the reason for the change from names to numbers is that there were thousands of conflicts with common names. After the switch faculty, staff and students will be hosted at the same domain, which leads to many same-name conflicts. They are moving the email accounts of over 100-thousand active and inactive students, and about 15-thousand faculty and staff.

“We were trying to find a way with our body of students to make the email address unique, without making it so long,” explained Hearn. Using first and last names and the first few numbers of student ID numbers still caused conflicts.

Also, since students already have to memorize their student ID to login to everything else at HCC, Hearn explained that they reasoned it would be easier for students to have one less thing to remember. “I know a W-number probably isn’t personable, but again, it goes back to trying to look at a student portal where we can use the same log-on ID,” noted Hearn.

Next spring, when you wish to give out your student email, you give your student ID. Hearn stated that they did verify that there is no loss in student privacy and no FERPA violations with this change.

Starting Dec. 16 students must log in to their email with their W-number email address.

Moving all the student email accounts of a college with 70-thousand students is no small feat. Faculty and staff accounts were moved first in this phased approach. Many issues have already been ironed out,  but there is no guarantee the switch for students will be issue free.

Soon will be up with all the frequently asked questions and documents regarding the switch and new resources for students.