Just noticed this announcement.
Open University students will have greater opportunities to collaborate and communicate with each other thanks to a new agreement between the OU and Google.
The University will be deploying Google Apps for Education to run alongside other learning systems, with services that include: email, instant messaging, contact management, calendar, space for shared documents, and online document creation. There is the potential for more services to be added in the future.
These additional services are being provided to students to enable them to network and collaborate more effectively with each other. The default email provision for students will be with Google, but existing preferred email options will be maintained.
The OU (disclosure: where I have my day job, though I’m on sabbatical at the moment) is a very big and influential outfit in these areas. This is quite a coup for Google. (And I had absolutely nothing to do with it.)