Google can now check the University of Pennsylvania off its ever-growing list of ivy leaguers wielding Google Apps for Education, because the school just announced a recent move from Microsoft’s Windows Live Hotmail to Gmail.

The Philadelphia-based private university ranks No. 5 in National Universities, according to U.S. News and World Report, and it joins over 60 other leading institutions from the nation’s top 100 to use Google Apps. Harvard College, Yale, and Brown University are a few of the more prominent schools to top Google’s list.

Penn changed services after studying student email trends:

“We just saw more than 50 percent of students forward emails from their Hotmail to Gmail accounts and thought it would be more convenient this way,” said Director of Social Sciences Computing and Student Technology Chris Mustazza to The Daily Pennsylvanian.

More information is available below.

The School of Arts and Sciences Computing Department will switch from the official Hotmail university email service to Gmail in the coming weeks, but the service will initially undergo testing by Student Technology Advisory Board members. It will eventually receive more tests by a group of 250 students.

If no kinks occur, current undergraduate and graduate students in the College of Arts and Sciences and Liberal Professional Studies students are able to switch email accounts from Penn Live to Google@SAS this summer. Current students will have the opportunity to maintain their Hotmail accounts, but incoming students will receive University Gmail accounts by default in May.

Penn launched a website for students interested in getting started with their new SAS email, and the school created a handy FAQ section for those with more questions about Gmail and the Google Apps for Education suite.

Google Apps is a Google service that features several Web applications similar to traditional office suites. The services vary per edition but generally include Docs, Gmail, Calendar, Talk, Sites, Groups, Video, and Marketplace. The suite’s education package is rapidly increasing in popularity among students and educational institutions due to enhanced sharing features, accessibility, and cost.

“Google Apps offers simple, powerful communication and collaboration tools for educational institutions of any size – all hosted by Google to minimize maintenance and reduce IT costs,” said Google Apps for Education on its website. “Google Apps is provided to educational institutions at no charge, and is hosted on the same enterprise-class infrastructure used by corporate and government customers.”

So far, SAS is the only department at Penn slated for a transition to Google Apps’ free Gmail service.

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