Tag-Archive for ◊ Google Apps For Education ◊

Google Apps FAQs
Saturday, May 25th, 2013 | Author:

As a Google Apps Certified Trainer, I often get questions about how we have used Google Apps or how we have managed the rollout within school so I thought it would be sensible to share some of the questions I have been asked recently and a few answers too.  Feel free to share these if they are useful. If you have any questions, please contact me and I’ll add them to the list.


Is it possible to track emails that are sent using Google Apps?

Yes. But there are a few words of caution. All email that is sent can be seen by the administrator. They can do this by going to Reports> Email Log. This will show that person A sent an email to person B but will not reveal the contents (although the email subject is shown).

To track actual messages, there is a way of doing it using the Content Compliance tool. This is accessed via Settings>Gmail>Click an organization and then content compliance. We set this up in school but, apart from during the testing phase, we have not used it at all. The way that this works is that any email sent to or from our domain (@stjohnsapps.co.uk) that contains the “@” symbol is forwarded to an account called “trackedmail@stjohnsapps.co.uk”. If there was ever a need to find out the exact details of a message sent between two people, this email account could be accessed and the emails could be found. As I said, we have not done this and this has been in place since early 2012.

This obviously then has implications as the administrator may be a teacher or network manager and could then access emails that are sent by pupils, but also by the senior leadership team. It is therefore worth pointing this out to all users before they use the email. However, this could, and should, form part of your training and policy documents when you start your Google Apps use within school.

In reality, the best way to monitor emails between pupils is to involve them in the process and teach them to be safe. So if Child A sends an inappropriate email to child B, it will be in A’s sent items and B’s inbox. A may try to delete it from their sent folder and their trash, but B will still have a copy. They should be taught to show this or, better yet, forward this to their teacher or the appropriate adult in charge. This can then be dealt with as necessary.

In my experience, it is often head teachers and governors that want to know if gmail can be tracked. So the answer is yes, but with some effective teaching, you won’t need to use those tools very much at all.


How do I make email safer?

There is a way of “locking down” the email so that it can only be sent between users of your domain. This is done via Settngs>Gmail>Click the organization and then restrict delivery. Simply add your domain e.g. @stjohnsapps.co.uk to the list and then that chosen organization (year group) can only send and receive emails from users with email addresses that end in @stjohnsapps.co.uk

This can also be used to enable emails from certain tools. For example, we use Popplet in school but when the children forget their Popplet password, they can click a link in Popplet and it will email them with instructions to reset their password. This is possible because I have enabled emails from @popplet.com too.

The Settings link here has more information.

Can I just use Google Apps with 1 class if I want to try it out?

Of course but I would still suggest asking permission or at least informing others within your school. It will work just as well with one class as it will with all of the classes but you need to check with senior leaders first so that they are aware in case there are any parents that have questions or concerns. One other thing I would suggest is to set it up as if the whole school will come on board soon. For example, don’t set-up a domain called “Mraddisonyear4.com” as you will have to choose another domain name if/when other teachers decide to use it too.


How do we manage passwords for pupils and staff?

Every pupil from Year 3 upwards has an account and they are given a default password (usually password) when their accounts are created. In one of their first lessons using Google Apps, they are taught how to change it and manage their password.

For teachers, they are also given a default password when they start and they are also shown how to change it. I tend not to get them to “force change at first login” because I think it is better to show them how to change the password at all times, rather than just the first time they log in.

I also have this link: https://www.google.com/accounts/EditPasswd saved on our main page so that users can change the password at all times.

A blog post on password security is here.


Do I need to ask permission from parents before I start using Google Apps?

The Google Apps terms to state:

Customer acknowledges and agrees that it is solely responsible for compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, including, but not limited to, obtaining parental consent concerning collection of students’ personal information used in connection with the provisioning and use of the Services by the Customer and End Users.

We do allow parents to remove their children from using Google (or any service) if they wish, but we haven’t had to do this yet.


How should I inform parents about Google Apps?

As with blogging and a a few other things in school, I suggest telling them via a short note in the end of week newsletter saying that you are using Google Apps and your children might mention email addresses etc and tell them that you will let them know more later. Then 6-8 weeks later, hold a parents meeting to showcase what you’ve been doing. Some schools want to do the parents event first, but I think that it is better to wait a while and show what you have been doing rather than show them when you haven’t done anything yet.


How do I make a homepage (like this one – www.stjohnsapps.co.uk)

I simply used Google Sites and made a page. On this page I put links to the tools that we used within school and then made this page available to others. You could make it so that the site was only accessible for users that are signed in to their gmail account, but I have decided to make it public so that others can see it too.

I also put a link to it on our school website here.

The techy bit is directing the domain name “www.stjohnsapps.co.uk” to the google site. This isn’t necessary, it’s mainly just for me to access it quickly. Most traffic comes via our school website.


What happens if the children email everyone?

It is possible, and probably suggested, to setup a group called All Users so that you can inform them of updates and changes. I also have groups for staff@ and different classes and year groups, all with email addresses that can be used by anyone. Therefore, there is nothing to stop a child emailing staff@ and sending a message to all teachers. The way around this is to educate the children. Does the message need to be sent? Even if it is to a small group, such as a class of pupils, does everyone need to see it?

Following on from Part 1 which looked at registering and setting up the domain for Google Apps, this post will discuss how to configure your domain to get it up and running. Click on a link below to open a Google Document that can then be downloaded or printed as required. I would suggest going through them in the order they are listed.

**Edit 20th June 2013 There has been a change to the Google Apps Dashboard, the new help guides are indicated below. Current Google Apps Users may find that they have the old admin dashboard for a while yet. I will leave both guides available until further notice. **

Creating Organizations and Uploading Users (New Guide) – This includes how to create the CSV/Excel file to upload users in bulk.

Adding Users 1 at a time (New Guide)

Creating Groups (New Guide) – Useful if you want to email a whole class or all staff at once

Choosing which services to enable (New Guide) – Google Apps provides access to lots of services, you might not want them all enabled.

Settings (New Guide) – Choosing which settings are enabled/configured for the different Google Apps tools.

Google Apps Marketplace (New Guide) – Adding Apps from the Marketplace

Advanced Tools and Reports (New Guide) – Not really used by most people, but useful to see what is there.

Part 3 will follow soon, this will look at what to do now that you have Google Apps all setup and running.


Top 5 Posts of 2012
Friday, December 28th, 2012 | Author:

Before writing a review of 2012, which will take a bit of thought, I thought I would share the top 5 posts on this blog throughout the whole of 2012. What this top 5 does show is that all of these posts are over a year old (the BETT one is 4 days from its first birthday). This appears to be because it takes a while to build an audience. The Bett Show post is 6/7th on Google’s search page for “Bett Show Tips” and search for Digital Leaders and my tag is 4th on the results page. Another thing that the most popular posts show is that the ‘how-to/guide’ type posts seem to get more hits than the reflection-type posts. Maybe teachers are looking for people to show them how to implement these tools in their classroom.

But hey, I’m just glad that anyone finds these posts useful!

Top 5 for 2012…

1. Bett for Beginners

This will be re-produced and updated in the coming days, but for now, the 2012 BETT guide is the most popular blog post on the site. This post gives a few tips and hints to getting the most out of the annual BETT show.


2. How to Get Started with Google Apps for Education

Another post getting an update and a revamp is the guide to setting up Google Apps for Education. This has been popular since it was written and this year alone has had just under 5,000 views. I have started re-writing it to take recent changes into account and that should be due in early 2013.


3. Come and have a #ukedchat

This post is getting quite old now, but it gives a very brief overview of ukedchat, the weekly twitter discussion forum. There have probably been many more posts about it which are better and more up-to-date, but this still had 3,000 hits this year!


4. Primary Digital Leaders

Written in December 2010, this post laid out the plans for Digital Leaders in my school. This all started after a discussion with Chris Mayoh and Dawn Hallybone at a Microsoft event in November 2010. We had just seen Daniel Stucke talk about his digital leaders and we planned a few ways forward for our own schools too.


5. Manga High – an overview

With 2,500 hits this year, this post gives an insight into Manga High which used to an expensive online resource but for the past 18months or so has been free. My children love using it and it really challenges them to think quickly.

Google Apps Setup – Part 1 Signing Up
Sunday, October 21st, 2012 | Author:

This is the first in a series of posts looking at how to setup Google Apps for Education. The original blog post has been viewed over 7,000 times but it is time for a revamp and to make the steps easier. As the posts develop, they will show you how to register your domain, setup Google Apps and get started.

You might want to know a bit more about Google Apps, a ten minute video is here.

Before signing up, there is a choice that needs to be made. This is the name of your domain. This is important because all of your email will be sent using this name and often, your children and staff will need to type it in when logging in. So it needs to be simple, but unique to your school. My school is called St John the Baptist Primary School so we went with www.stjohnsapps.co.uk as our domain name and all users will have the email address like this: ian.addison@stjohnsapps.co.uk

You can use a domain that you already own e.g. your school’s domain, but if you use this for other things too, such as your website, you may find that this causes issues particularly with mail. So it’s best to start with a new domain.

The choice used to be going with Google and getting a .com address or going elsewhere and getting .co.uk, but now, Google offer .co.uk addresses. So think about the name you would like, and then visit the Google Apps site.

You will now see the Google Apps Dashboard. You may find that it asks you to purchase the domain here, bear with it as it can take a few hours for the payment to be approved and to register.

At this stage, you can only add 10 users. To add more, you will need to wait until the education upgrade has come through. Check your spam folder in case the reply has ended up in there.

Once you get the go-ahead, you can proceed to step 2 – Creating Users and managing settings

Google Drive…a few thoughts
Tuesday, May 01st, 2012 | Author:

So Google Drive launched last week, you get 5GB of free online storage, yada yada yada….

I tweeted that it didn’t interest me in the slightest and the reason for that is that I use Dropbox. I have blogged about it in the past and got referral links taking me up to 11GB of free online storage. I also got a deal with my HTC one X to add 25GB for two years so I technically have 36GB of online space for free, why would I bother with Drive?  Well what about for school.

I thought, what if everyone installed Drive and then had access to their Google Docs? They could manage them in a Windows-style environment instead of online. Many of our staff are not fans of Google Docs and a lot of this is down to the home screen and ‘losing’ documents, so having them in a Windows-style window would help. They haven’t lost them of course, they are organised somewhere instead. But there’s a problem. The majority of planning in school, well, mainly the folders in which the planning sits, are owner by me. I created the folder structure with my account and when you load Drive on the computer, it shows the documents that you own and to visit documents shared with you, you need to click a link that just opens the Docs website. Pointless. We can open a link ourselves.

But what if all planning was owned by one account and we shared that log-in for Drive? Then we can all access the same documents on our desktops. Ok, so we’d lose control over who edited what and when, but we’re all grown-ups so we can manage. Then the teachers can use their named accounts for checking mail and that. It’s easy enough to use the admin console to transfer ownership of all documents to an account e.g. teachers@ourdomainname.com. They’d never need to know that actually everything they were using was online, it just looks like it’s in a folder. Clicking on it opens ActivInspire, Google docs or whatever.

We’d also lose the ability to edit a document with multiple users, but we hardly ever use that anyway. I think staff might just prefer having their files accessible wherever they are. Maybe I’m wrong but I’ll be asking them once I’ve had a bit of a play. I can’t see a way of automatically converting uploaded docs to Google docs format from the Drive application, but maybe I’m missing a button somewhere.

Is it going to work? Not sure. But having all documents and not just planning online will be a huge bonus. This will include our flipcharts too. We’ll be playing with this over the coming weeks and seeing if it is the way forward or not.

Have you started using Drive? I’d be interested in your thoughts.

Google Apps Webinar
Wednesday, March 21st, 2012 | Author:

Following on from the session a few weeks ago that looked at Google Apps, we have repeated the webinar. These webinars were in conjunction with Vital ICT and they have also been recorded. If you have any Google Apps related questions, feel free to get in touch.

Click here to replay the webinar.


Edit – When you click the link, you will be asked to download a file from Blackboard, opening this file will then play the webinar.

What is Google Apps?
Friday, March 02nd, 2012 | Author:

With all the talk of the Google Teacher Academy and Google Apps bouncing around recently, many people have been very excited. However many others have been left confused by how Google Apps can help in their school or what it even is! So in association with Vital, I will be holding two webinars to discuss how we have been using Google Apps within our school and to show some of the features.

These webinars will be held at 7pm on Tuesday 6th March and Tuesday 20th March. They will last around an hour, are completely free and will also be recorded. I will put the links on here an hour before we start. To attend you simply click the link and the chatroom will open. If you want to join the discussion then please have a microphone plugged in too.

If you have any questions about Google Apps, then please do contact me or leave a comment in the box below.

So, I look forward to seeing you (virtually) on either the 6th or 20th of March.


Here is my Google Apps video tour on Under Ten Minutes.

For an alternative, follow @kvnmcl on Twitter and he’ll tweet details nearer the time. He is organising a Google hangout on Saturday 3rd March 10am – 1pm.


Edit: The recording of my session is here

Google Apps + BrainPop = Happiness
Thursday, January 19th, 2012 | Author:

One thing that I found out at BETT is that Brainpop is now available as a service through our Google Apps login. This means that if you have both Google Apps and Brainpop, you can link the two to make it easier for children to access the resources. Fabulous!

So how do you do it?

Find your admin dashboard e.g. www.google.com/a/yourdomain.com and then visit the Marketplace. Search for Brainpop UK (US is already available) and click ‘Add’.

You then add your Brainpop details and the accounts become linked. So along your Google toolbar you now have Mail/Documents etc and then under ‘more’ you will see Brainpop.

Wonderful. Free too (providing you already subscribe to BrainPOP).

edit – also, another cool feature is the fact that if a child completes a quiz, they can enter their teachers email address and it will send the results to their google docs account. Quite nice 🙂

One day all software will talk to each other in this way…

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide (PDF) if you want to add BrainPOP to your account.

For Brainpop’s blog post, click here.