What do YOU want from Ryerson’s E-mail and collaboration systems?

Ryerson is evaluating its E-mail, calendaring, and collaboration systems. We are seriously considering using a system like Google’s Apps for Education or Microsoft’s Office 365 for Education. We are also considering other options such as Ryerson hosting its own systems or contracting with a Canadian provider.

Update 2011/11/22: Please note the survey is closed. You may be interested in other blog posts including:

We want to hear what you think. What features are important to have in Ryerson’s E-mail system?  Should Ryerson offer instant messaging, Web-based audio chat and video conferencing, document sharing, and collaborative authoring of documents, spreadsheets, and presentations? How important are those features?

Please take the time to fill out an online survey. The survey requires that you log in using your my.ryerson.ca user name and password so that everyone can only fill out the survey once and so we can group responses by faculty, staff, and students. Although you must log in, your Ryerson ID will be removed from the survey database after the survey closes so that your response will be anonymous.

Please complete the survey.

Find out more about this project by reading other posts at http://email.blog.ryerson.ca.

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86 Responses to What do YOU want from Ryerson’s E-mail and collaboration systems?

  1. Faith Donald says:

    I did not think to mention this when I completed the survey, but I think it is a waste of Ryerson’s money and resources for Ryerson to develop its own system. I highly encourage the use of a well-designed system, such as Google apps. Please do not go with an outdated clunky system, such as the one we have to use for eHR.
    Thank you,
    Faith Donald

    • Brian Lesser says:

      Thanks Faith,
      If for any reason you want to go back and redo the survey, the system will let you do it. Your most recent submission is the one that will count.
      Yours truly,

    • Aaron says:

      Google does provide a great service but we must be careful about their privacy policy

  2. Phil says:

    Google all the way!!

  3. Paul says:

    I just ask for one thing – How about giving me an option to opt out or unsubscribe from all the Ryerson spam I get. Between, the library, the Student Union, The CCSNews, its just too much.

    • Brian Lesser says:

      Hi Paul,
      Yes, I agree we should have some opt out options. Maybe not for everything but certainly for some things. I’ll get this into the development queue if it isn’t there already.

    • Andre says:

      Agreed +1

      • hongbo says:


        You should be able to opt out the emails from RSU or CESAR, if it’s what you mean by the Student Union. If you could not, please let me know. For opting out the other ones, it’s in the development queue as mentioned in Brian’s comment.



  4. Justin Bull says:

    I currently use Google Apps for Your Domain for all of my business domains and I have to say I strongly urge Ryerson to adopt Google as an email provider.

    Interestingly enough I was going to write CCS suggesting to use the Google Apps for Education.

  5. L. Pereira says:

    I think there should be more of the usual stuff you get from email like hotmail and gmail. stuff like a search function (a more convenient search bar than the extra window that opens up currently) to find emails, an auto option after sending an email to add a contact, auto recognition of emails you’ve sent to before (regardless if they are a contact or not) so you don’t always have to type out the address of people you mail often, maybe some HTML for text formatting (bold/italic etc), options for marking mail read/unread, and maybe convo threading like gmail. I’m sure some of these features may already be there but they are clearly not user friendly enough if I haven’t noticed/found it yet. Rmail is pretty decent already, but it could be better.

  6. littlebearz says:

    I don’t mind the emails, just that if they utilize the space more effective I would be more interested. The left and right space in the emails are usually just blanks. Additionally emails are creating new instances of each other upon mass emailing? wouldn’t that create a huge load as oppose to just putting a link on the email system permanently with dynamic contents… Like having notices using advertisement space lol.

  7. Roman says:

    I think Google Apps for Education is the best option. We already use Google Docs for all the group projects, because it works very well for collaboration.

  8. Wendy says:

    If we’re going to add instant messaging and voice calls in our new system, I hope that we will include the option to archive those instant message and voice calls onto the database as they happen. Especially for student projects and stuff, archived convos would help a lot.

  9. J says:

    I think RU needs to connect with a provider asap so the email system is more frequantly used overall and can be accessed and updated easily through cellphones.

  10. Aidin Foroughi says:

    I totally agree with the above comment. Ryerson shouldn’t even think about developing it’s own system. Also, there is a time factor … For a lot of people who complete this survey, it’s important that the new services become available as soon as possible. Developing a new system takes time and can take years to become bug free. Just look at RAMSS.. I think Ryerson should act quick. I can’t even do a decent search in my current rmail box.

    Aidin Foroughi

    • Brian Lesser says:

      Just an FYI. RAMSS is software that Ryerson licenses from Oracle. The product is called PeopleSoft Campus Solutions. Ryerson has customized it to add some features and information but the software itself is from Oracle. Regarding Ryerson hosting an E-mail system. If we were to do that it is highly unlikely that we would write new software to do it. We would look at licensing software like Zimbra or Microsoft Exchange.

      • nancy says:

        Remember that when your data is housed in the United States your data is subject to the laws of the United States, especially the homeland security. If Ryerson is going to contract with a data housing provider it would be best they keep the data in Canada and under our laws.

  11. Brian Lesser says:

    Hi Folks,
    Great to see comments here and keep em coming! But please don’t forget to complete the survey.

  12. Mark says:

    I don’t mind if my data is stored outside Canada (like every other online service I use.)

  13. waqar siddiqi says:


    Whatever features have been mentioned in the mail and more more more ——- that are possible.


    Waqar Siddiqi

  14. waqar siddiqi says:



  15. James says:

    Please use Office 365 for Education. Office works great and has so many more features than Google for documents and spreadsheets and presentations.

  16. Evan Gelman says:

    I think that we need something similar to what google has mixed with a skype component. To be able to communicate by text and voice while also looking at documents.

    In regards to the current e-mail system – by pressing the back button on the browser and having it log you out of the syetem = very frustrating. The back button finally works on RAMSS and it would be great if the same could be said to Rmail

  17. Vlad cazan says:

    Google apps all the way.
    Our email is horrible I have to clean it every 2 days.

  18. Linda says:

    -emails in trash box automatically deleted every 7 days
    -have function for labelling emails as “marked as read”
    -expand capacity for attachment size
    -do not have spellcheck as default when composing messages (let users check the box if they so desire)

  19. ram says:

    The current Google product are perfect in my experience. so try to bring the same experience to Ryerson based service or try to negotiate with Google. u can make privet filters for mails . so no spams will be delivered using Ryerson mail.

  20. Anthony P. says:

    My vote goes to Google hands down. With so many of us already using gmail and calendar, etc, on a daily basis, it’s a natural progression for us to give an official nod to that trend; and of course they provide tools beyond any we could match in-house. Privacy is good to keep in mind, but to me is a non-issue when it comes to Google since most of us already trust them on a daily basis with much more sensitive information; their interests seem in-line with ours.

    Also just want to comment on the move to the open source uPortal: brilliant.

  21. Osman says:

    Can you please for God’s sake include a search engine for emails! Hotmail, Yahoo, Google heck, every email system has a search engine that searches in your mailbox. It is such a pain for anyone to go through their email-boxes to search for that one particular email that you don’t remember where it was last seen.

    Thank you.

  22. Subash says:

    I think the current Google Apps would suit Ryerson’s need. But whatever product chosen, try to get the solution hosted on Canadian Server or in a country that has same legal grounds as Canada. For an example, even if an American company promises the maximum privacy they are bound to Patriot Act and have to divulge information when asked. I’m pretty sure you will find people on Ryerson who oppose their e-mails being hosted in America.

  23. V says:

    One thing I gotta say, stop with the spam!
    Ryerson calls it news, but I call it spam. Looking at all this news , I get the same reaction as I get when seeing a buy cheap Viagra e-mail. Please find a new way to send news that doesn’t involve endless spam.

  24. rGeneM says:

    It would be a waste of our money to have Ryerson develop it’s own Email system; when Google is already offering it for free!

    I wonder if the folks who oppose having services offered by an American company, also don’t use credit cards, banks, etc.

  25. Bishoy says:

    I think it’s a good idea to have an option to show certain email as unread even though they already have been opened…also it would be great if we could mark certain emails as “junk” so there not visible in our inbox….You can do all this on hotmail.

  26. john says:

    google is an evil organization, i would be concerned if the system is hosted on google servers, because once somethings is typed or email through google is saved forever and perhaps raises privacy concerns

  27. osama says:

    Google all the way, but i would be concerned if it is hosted on a google server, if it is a canadian host than its fine. And

    plz include a search engine in an email server , because it is a real pain in an ,,,, to search for one particular mail in ryerson email account

  28. Nick C White says:

    I get all my ryerson emails redirected to my gmail inbox anyways. A huge number of people use google already for their non-ryerson stuff so it would be great to be able to integrate it all.
    By having a fully integrated system for email, video chat, instant messaging, calendars and filesharing, Ryerson would be really be taking the lead in technology among universities.

  29. Javi says:

    I think Google is the best option… and something I believe many of us really need is a search engine,so we can find old emails easier. I have spent hours looking for a specific message, so please make sure the new system does have it!

  30. Prakash says:

    I would like to see the use of Google docs with Ryerson that would be amazing because google already has all the basics with the calendar and all. It would be a waste of money for Ryerson to come up with their own system when Google already has one.


  31. Alex Doubov says:

    Google Apps please.

  32. Christina says:


    I would love it, number one, if Ryerson decided to abandon Groupwise and I don’t mind a system like Google Apps for education if I don’t have to worry about data mining, advertising, and information security. I think going with the system of a company like Google, if we had assurances with respect to certain concerns, is probably more cost efficient than a home grown system and this is a good thing…

    I would embrace a system for document sharing, instant messaging, and web based audio chat. I would also highly value any system that was easy to use for scheduling appointments. Our current system is so clunky with appointment making and cancelling. Appointment making and all the work that comes with it is a big part of my job (for better or worse). Ease of use in this area is high priority for me…

    I look forward to change in our email/online system. Can’t wait to see what our future is!!

  33. David says:

    Is there no Open Source system that can meet our email and communication needs? Why go for a corporate solution (e.g., Google, Microsoft)? What guarantees do we have that our email will not be hijacked in the future for some nefarious purpose? What guarantees do we have that the costs involved will not become onerous?

  34. David says:

    Thanks for the survey. Please increase the number of characters allowed for comments. Firefox shows this nice big textbox, but the system only allows about three or four lines.

    • Brian Lesser says:

      Hi David, Sorry about the limitation with text boxes in some browsers. It appears to be a problem with the Opinio survey software we are using. While it is not anonymous, please feel free to say more by writing to apps@ryerson.ca

  35. Alex M says:

    I don’t mind what program Ryerson uses for email or group collaboration. All that concerns me is where it’s based. I don’t want ANY company outside of Ryerson looking at my Ryerson mail. Likewise, I don’t want ANY company outside of Ryerson looking at group collaboration projects. Understood that it would mean greater infrastructure costs, but it’s a small price to pay to keep our work private.

  36. Tory says:

    Just please don’t go with Microsoft, they fail at being standards compliant. Probably require the use of Internet Explorer and other garbage with doesn’t jive well with the increased use of Apple products and Linux.

    Most people should not care about their email being hosted in the states or elsewhere. If it is that big of an issue buy your own email service, or encrypt your email.

    I, and many of my colleagues ditched the Ryerson services a long time ago for the google services. Everything that goes to my Ryerson email just gets pulled along to my gmail. I have used google docs for many projects where I collaborated with my team members.

    • Tory says:


    • N. Soares says:

      +1 agreed with everything here, especially the last bit.

    • Tory says:

      To be clear, I say people shouldn’t care about their email leaving Canada because I am referring to Ryerson email. If someone broke into my email/subpoenaed my email and saw that I have an up coming exam or the RyersonToday messages… I would only be peeved that they broke into my account, not that they saw my university email. My university communications are barely private.

      If this were email for other purposes I would not necessarily take this position.

      Also, after taking the survey concerns were raised about the quality of internet access at Ryerson so I will use this to make a point about the wifi.

      I hope RU-Secure gets better before RYERSON is phased out because RU-Secure is practically unusable to me. RYERSON isn’t a lot better either. Mind you, this is on Ubuntu and Android that I have these issues. I’m sure some will blame it on Linux, but at school is the only place I have issues. At work, at home, at coffee shops… I have no issues…

    • rGeneM says:

      Tory, thank you, for writing this. I could not agree more with you on the junk (i.e. Internet Explorer) that Microsoft wants one’s use.

      I, too, use Google Docs, Gmail; and other free services by Google for many years now! And I also like Google’s support for open-source projects, and such.

      • Brian Lesser says:

        Office 365 is in beta. You can see their browser support list here:


        RU-Secure uses WPA2 which is much more secure than WEP (RYERSON). Unfortunately, early releases of Android don’t support WPA2. From a quick search it looks like WPA2 only showed up in Android in 2.1 or 2.2. We will offer both connection methods for at least another year but strongly recommend you use RU-Secure if you can.

  37. Agostino Leone says:


    I think that graphically and visually Rmail needs to be heavily improved upon. I have never tried a Google App, but if it gives you the ability to create an organized, reliable and visually appealing page…than go for it. Touching upon another comment I do believe that it might be a bad idea to create your own system because of the cost. But if its affordable and gives the creators and Ryerson the ability to totally control the actions and system settings, then I think this would be the best choice.

  38. Sarah says:

    Please change it, RMail is archaic and so awful to use.

  39. Joshua says:

    I think Office 365 is a leading edge product…go for it.

  40. Claus Rinner says:

    RMail is working great for me, I don’t see a need for any changes to what we have. Other collaboration tools are readily available and I’d rather keep a bare-bone email system separate from all other tools, in particular if it is as reliable as RMail has been.

    I have great concerns about outsourcing a core business function such as email. I certainly object to storing any of my Ryerson communication outside of Canada, but am also opposed to making ourselves dependent on a corporate solution in general. If any changes are needed, then I echo an earlier suggestion to select an open source solution that gives Ryerson IT full control over software and servers.

  41. Joe says:

    I find that the Ryerson email system works quite well, it is very reliable, and the design is clean. Frankly, I have no clue why you might be embarking on reinventing the wheel on this. Really bad idea – just leave it alone! Blackboard, on the other hand….

    • dimitri says:

      Can we say the same about our calendaring system? What about other tools?

      This exercise is not just about e-mail.

  42. Matt M says:

    Present Ryerson mail is terrible and almost unusable, it needs to go asap. MS office products are good for this sort of thing.

  43. Adi says:

    Brian, Please provide us your contact number or email address so we could contact you.

  44. Sricamalan says:

    I would like to comment on two aspects:
    1. Accessibility for users with disabilities should be a primary determinant. For instance, just imagine if searching for an old email frustrates all those who have shared so far, please take a moment to understand the situation of those who have no or low vision trying to find something with a screen reader program!
    2. Keeping in mind some of the cases we have seen under the US Homeland Security and the Patriotic Act, consider the diversity of our community, especially the students. It is not fair to knowingly put the “vulnerable members” into a more at risk position – as they say: safety and security come first.

  45. Eggy says:

    I think Ryerson should host its own mail system. The current system is too old and doesnt have many features. Using third party such as Microsoft or Google is okay as long as the databases or “cloud” physically remains within university property or in Canada at the most; all the while not transmitting data to the south of the border so as to remain free from their policies. There is a certain prestige and respect for a university to be in total control of its information. If we want to join the big leagues, we have to act like it. Bottom line: use of third party solutions/applications is good as long as all the data and information stays in the university or within Canada at most. Most people seem to just want all the cake without taking into account whose plate is being used. The cake is a lie.

  46. Nirojan says:

    I say go for Office 365, has many more features, has exchange so you can get push email to all your devices, has LYNC so you can do video,text,voice chats and colloborate at the same time, GREAT for group work, integrated nicely with Office 2010 which has many more features than Google Docs does. Google is known for privacy issues, data mining, and selling information to 3rd parties. If you use Office 365 I can configure Outlook to receive push email and have my calender sync up with the cloud and my phone at the same time, with Google Apps you still have to use the browser to do anything.


    • Dimitri says:

      Actually, I need to clarify and correct some points here:

      for Google Education, Google:

      – turns off ALL MINING
      – turns off ALL ADVERTISING
      – DOES NOT sell info to 3rd parties
      – Gmail can also “push” e-mail
      – Google Calendar *does not* need a browser….works perfectly with all mobile calendaring programs, even iCal. In fact, google apps all sync through the cloud with devices.

  47. S. Aiesha says:

    We all know that the RMail system is outdated and of course, with the use of outsourcing, it could be much better – But at what cost? With the budget cuts that Ryerson’s experienced in the past 3 years, shouldn’t the limited funds be going towards improving the actual value of our educational experience and not improving a service that we can get elsewhere anyway? Several students already forward their Ryerson emails to Gmail or another cloud-based mail provider. This gives us access to all the awesome collaboration and calendar tools available, while still retaining all communication sent to blahblah@ryerson.ca. A few months ago, I was part of a collaboration between 3 student groups that was made possible through this method of forwarding ryerson emails and using Google Docs’ tools to share with one another. It worked fine, just as instant messaging programs like Messenger work fine for project discussions. Most importantly, it’s all FREE! Before I get ahead of myself though, let me ask what the estimated costs of this venture are?

    • Brian Lesser says:

      There are a number of outsourcing options with different price tags ranging from no cost to a cost per user per month. There is no fixed budget for renewing Ryerson’s E-mail and collaboration systems nor has a decision been made to outsource or not.

      This site, the survey, the earlier Symposium on privacy and the cloud, and upcoming discussions are part of a consultation process that should lead to a recommendation on how Ryerson should provide better E-mail, calendaring, and collaboration services. More background information is available here: http://email.blog.ryerson.ca/2011/01/17/introduction/

    • Nirojan says:

      Although I agree RMAIL is pretty outdated compared to todays standards, compared to a university like McMaster it is advanced. I used to go to McMaster, they have an email system that has an inbox size limit of 15MB and the GUI and functionality is VERY VERY limited. So in retrospect i commend Ryerson for not only having a better email system but planning to upgrade the functionality to meet todays needs, maybe Ryerson should send some IT support over to McMaster lol

  48. Joe says:

    Yes, please get this underway. I don’t even open \Ryerson Today\ — I don’t care about what’s happening in this school, or who’s running for elections, etc. etc. Just emails from my prof’s, classmates is suffice.

  49. Doug says:

    The hacking of EPSILON says it all. Ryerson should not outsource data that will be hosted/reside outside of Canada. Many large companies outsourced to Epsilon trusting them. I am sure epsilon used to say they were secure to multiple levels of redundancy, firewalls, and super-bit levels of encryption. But what do I get now??? I am getting e-mails from the likes of Disney and Best Buy informing me that my e-mail information may have been compromised because they outsourced my e-mail communication to Epsilon. I don’t think anyone can ever say they are hacker proof if they are connected to the internet (they just haven’t been hacked yet…), so I would rather have my data in Canada and subject to the laws of Canada.

    • Brian Lesser says:

      Sadly Universities and Colleges have a terrible record of data breaches. It’s so bad that there is an entire site devoted to documenting each breach. Check out the Educational Security Incidents site:


      It makes for discouraging reading. Many of the breaches include much more sensitive information than was harvested from Epsilon.

    • Fil Salustri says:

      Doug, with respect, the hacking rate in “industry” is far lower than in academia, because the systems used “out there” are more robust, by definition, and there’s more HR that can be thrown at security problems.

  50. David says:

    FirstClass from Open Text

  51. My concerns are principally about tools to support adhoc group collaboration, and integration with other online services.

    For the work I do, I require a document collaboration system that can support the inclusion of individuals who are not direct subscribers to the system. For example, I often work with individuals from other universities. We use Google Docs because it (recently) allows you to give non-Google users editing rights on a shared document. On the integration front, I use Google Calendar because I can share easily with other Google users, and because it can both ingest and emits calendar data in ways that let me integrate it with other online tools that I use.

    Secondarily, accessibility through mobile devices is high on my list. I use a mobile device to check mail, chat/message for work on a daily basis. I see our students doing this with their peers, whether they are collaborating on assignments or just socializing.

    Finally, I must commend you for what I see as an ambitious, well managed and executed process. Its not often that you can point to IT initiatives of this magnitude that engage with their communities in higher level discussions about privacy, law, culture of use, and so forth. Good work!

  52. Dora Adobea says:

    I think using something like Google apps is great, a lot of students already use gmail and it has a lot more to offer than the current Ryerson Mail.

  53. Saurav Kaushal says:

    I think this would be an AMAZING idea! I will definitely be using the site a lot more.

  54. Rafael Padilha says:

    Make the new email display correclty within smartphones. Within my blackberry, the emails always looks very bad.

  55. Jordan Pellegrino says:

    I would like my teachers to add due dates and important dates to remember for a specific class. it would be so convienent to have something like that. It would not create too much work for teacher because all they would have to do is insert an assignemnt or test title and specify a date and then done….everyone in that class’s calanader (on RAMMS) is updated. Please do this

    • Fil Salustri says:

      I’m a prof in Mec Eng, and I feel your pain.
      You’re basically asking for calendaring functionality to be built into Bb (or whatever replaces it). Some calendaring functionality exists in Bb. But it’s quite terrible. People just hate the thought of using it.
      We need a universal calendaring solution, that is usable enough to work in Bb and outside it. I would love for there to be a solution that lets students see deadlines, midterm dates, etc in an integrated calendar. It’s possible; it’s just not possible with Bb.
      Calendaring can be separate from Email, but be compatible with it. It would be important to choose a platform that allows that kind of flexibility.

  56. Aidin Foroughi says:


    Someone mentioned Thunderbird and it reminded me of something. Please make sure that the e-mail is accessible through noneMicrosoft( outlook ) mail clients too. Some exchange servers don’t support this and some of us which use other free/open source mail clients can’t access these e-mails.

    Also I believe both time and money to be spent should be minimized, i.e. minimal changes with minimal costs that can be done quickly. I personally could live with the current service only if it had a better search and perhaps nicer graphics.

    We can find collaboration and communication services elsewhere and they are free. Also they are improving very fast. So say you spend a lot on a fancy mail service with collaboration and video conferencing etc, It doesn’t take more than a year before google or some other company provides something better and free of charge.

    I use gmail, google docs and dropbox, ooVoo and team viewer for email, collaboration, file sharing and communication and remote access/demos, and they are all free!..

    I don’t think Ryerson can provide anything that works better than the above combination without spending an enormous amount of the budget, while we already have it at no cost.


  57. Fil Salustri says:

    With respect, there are many people who do care. And it’s better than spam.

  58. Mehrab says:

    All I am concerned is about the privacy and the ownership of the data. I believe that the server must remain in Canada to avoid any privacy issues for RFA members. In addition, I agree with Anver (RFA president) that a consent from all RFA members must be obtained regarding this transfer.

  59. - says:

    This comment was removed at the request of the person who posted it.

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