It’s amusing how much if this reminds me of my experiences as a public school teacher.
I grew up using Gmail, which I would posit is the best email system out there. Advanced features aside, it is easy to use, has phenomenal uptime, and is available on virtually any device I would want it on. I was first introduced to it as a student at Saint Paul Public Schools, as they provide a Google Apps account to all students and staff. Seems like a great choice to me, way to go SPPS!
When I came back to work as a teacher, I was horrified by the real email situation the district inflicts on its staff: in addition to the Google account, all staff have an email address that goes through Lotus Notes. This is annoying for a lot of reasons:
- Lotus Notes is awful, confusing, and generally unusable.
- Lotus Notes is available either via a desktop program on district computers, or if you are on your own computer, via a web interface. Unfortunately the features available differ slightly. In particular, the signature you set on one does not propagate to the other.
- Forget about accessing Lotus Notes from a mobile device.
- The servers running Lotus Notes are local to the district. There are probably legal reasons for this, but it also means that anytime the district has network problems I cannot access my emails. Meanwhile, the Google Apps account runs on Google’s servers, which are almost always available.
- Because student emails are on the Google Apps system, most emails I get from them are addressed to my Google Apps account. Also, if I want to email a student it is far easier to use the Google Apps account because it has them all in its address book.
- Staff are expected to use the Lotus Notes address by default, and we are supposed to set up the Google Apps account to automatically forward all emails to Lotus Notes. Note: this is not set up for the staff, we are expected to do this on our own. A trivial matter for me, but not everyone is a computer tech teacher.
So I got naughty. One of my colleagues figured out where Lotus Note’s automatic forward setting is, so I set that to forward to my Google Apps account (instead of the other way around.) Now I only use the Google Apps account, and I can even get my school emails on my phone! I am much happier now that I don’t have to touch Lotus Notes, and I am a lot more productive because I have a system that is actually usable.
Bring on the public scandal!