Infographic: GFS email gets sent to Gmail

The days of FirstClass are numbered. Since last fall, there has been discussion about switching from the current email system with FirstClass to the Google for Education system.

The main features will be email and calendar, which will allow for synchronization among devices and with other students and faculty. It also gives access to Google Drive. Conferences will still exist as Google Groups and they will be easily accessible on the email interface.

There have been many complaints about FirstClass. Detractors say it’s clunky, has bad formatting and is relatively out of date.

John King, the new Director of Information Technology, who is heading the project, said, “FirstClass has seen better days.”  He noted that switching to Google will increase the ease of use and simplicity of the email system. In addition, Google has a well-developed spam filter in comparison to the FirstClass spam filter. There are also much better mobile clients for Google products.

The only feature that will be missing is the ability to view the history of an email. The major difficulty will be moving over the mail in their specific conferences and folders.

Firstclass Infographic
The positives (left) and negatives (right) of FirstClass based on a survey of 57 students. Ned Weiss ’15

There is some opposition to the change with both faculty and students. “Any change is difficult,” King said.

Some people have gotten attached to FirstClass, like Steven Hamel ‘16, who said, “I like the organization of FirstClass.”

Others, like  George Watson, Upper School math teacher, are positive about the change. “I look forward to using a more streamlined system. FirstClass has too many locations to find information,”  Watson said.

The transition to Google will begin next year. There will be training sessions for faculty and those who need it, and people can adopt it early. King said that the school plans to shut down FirstClass by the end of the first semester.