UWC Going Google: A new digital era
UWC's migration from Groupwise to Gmail as an email service is an exciting prospect – but the ICS team made the move even more memorable at their Google Launch Celebration at the UWC Student Centre on Tuesday 30 July 2013.
Master of Ceremonies Bradley Knight, UWC Digital Content Provider and also Good Hope FM DJ, oversaw two hours of lunchtime fun – and perhaps a bit of lecture time for some – in a venue jam-packed with students (and fun-loving staff).
Fellow Good Hope FM DJ Luwayne was on the decks, providing crowd-pleasing music that kept the Student Centre pumping – with the help of the UWC Centre for Performing Arts (CPA) Jazz Band, who provided a more classical feel to their performances. CPA also had a few of their Foxtrot Studio dancers present, who showed off their agility and skill with quicksteps, chachas and (naturally) foxtrots. And world champion breakdancing crew Ubuntu B-Boys demonstrating some intricate moves as well, as did the UWC Cheerleaders.
As if that weren't enough, videos explaining the function and benefits of Google's various products were broadcast from the massive screen brought in for the occasion, and prizes were raffled off (the ICS Team had been handing out tickets all morning), with Google goodie bags containing goodies like water bottles, t-shirts, caps, calculators, Shoprite vouchers, and more.
UWC's Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic, Prof Ramesh Bharuthram, explained the benefits the move would bring: a new Gmail address (WhoeverYouAre@myuwc.ac.za), using one of the world's most popular email providers; access to the full range of Google Apps products (Gmail, Docs, Drive, Calendar, Google+ and more); and finally, access to 30 GB of online storage to divide up amongst those apps however you wish.
“Today you young men and women take your destiny in your hands,” said Prof Bharuthram. “In terms of your studies and your research work, the internet is yours. The world is yours. It's a unique privilege. Use it, don't abuse it – and good luck.”
“You and I are living in a very extraordinary time in South Africa,” said ICS Director Mervyn Christoffels, the man who was instrumental in making the move possible. “At no other time have we had the rate of change and advancement in technology that we have today. And that rate of change is accelerating. That's why we are trying to develop an environment that will help us improve access to education and quality of education at UWC.”
“The Google migration is just the start of what we're calling the digital revolution at UWC. We're doing all we can to modernise this campus, to update processes and technologies, to ensure that when you leave us you are ready to join our knowledge-based society, and that you are ready to participate in an economy strongly influenced by technology,” he continued.
These sentiments were echoed by Denis Fry, Operations Manager from Grove Group, the cloud-based computing solutions company that is managing the migration and helping ICS cater to the University's Google needs. “This university is taking a big step forward,” he said. “And this invaluable technology that you will be using will help you develop important skillsets for the job market.”
With the speeches out of the way, it was time for the main attraction of the day: a performance by up-and-coming South African singing sensation Jimmy Nevis, performing some of his most popular songs to the great appreciation of the crowd. Audience participation was encouraged, and many students took the opportunity to grab a few pictures with the singer, before he had to depart.
But the fun didn't stop with Nevis' departure, with DJ Luwayne Wonder once more bringing the beats and leading the gathered students in an official UWC rendition of the Harlem Shake – and the best shakers being rewarded with yet more goodies.
The Google migration began with the Faculty of Dentistry, who moved over in the first weeks of August. The CHS Faculty migration has also been completed. The Faculty of Education migration will be completed in September, with the Faculties of Law, Arts, Natural Sciences and Economic and Management Sciences to follow.