Google’s addition to email many years ago was monumental to many people. I remember my really nerdy cousin giving me an invite really early on. Today, it may seems rather mundane to use a web based email client. The reasons can be many, for one, what if I have more than one email account. How can I check them all? Switching Windows? That doesn’t seem that productive. For another, the use of filters is a powerful way to get through that way too full inbox. In education, many of our district use GAFE (Google Apps For Education) which means that as teachers we have an additional email address to check and maintain. Also, our students have accounts, which may or may not be additional for them. With all this email pulling on us, it seems that all we do is read, reply, and manage email. Gmail may not at first blush seem like the best tool to use, it is rather complicated, but with a little digging, and using some online tutorials, you can customize it to do exactly what you need done to make email much easier to manage.
I would like to give you 5 reasons for using Gmail in your classroom.
1. Gmail is a client that can gather you email form other sources. You can add your personal account, your school account, or have your other gmail account come to one gmail inbox.
Start in the upper right hand corner with the “Gear” menu >Settings.
Go to >Labs >Multiple Inboxes >Select Enable
Go to >Accounts >Check mail from other accounts
Add your accounts, up to 5. You will need to know your passwords and account username, but it is worth the effort.
2. You are able to use the tabs at the top of the gmail page to sort through your email and get to the messages most pressing.
Start in the upper right hand corner with the “Gear” menu >Configure Inbox
Select tabs to enable
These tabs are Gmails way of sorting your email. The Primary is basically person to person conversation, Social would be conversations from social networks, Promotions is generally from people trying to sell you things, etc.
3. Messages in Gmail that have dates and times in them will like to your calendar if you add them as an event. This saves time and energy getting you directly to the tasks you need. and since many of our appointments are set up via email conversations, this should save you tons of time.
Some message highlight the date in blue, but even if they don’t, just click on the >More menu above your message and select >Create Event. This will take you to a calendar event, with the event name being that of the email subject. Just adjust the time and date.
4. With gmail you can use add ons. One that you should look at is:
• Boomerang, which allows you to set a time to resend the message to you so you can deal with it later. It also will send your reply to an email at 6:00 am even though you answered at 11:00 PM the night before.
• Find more at: http://www.diygenius.com/15-free-gmail-plugins-that-will-improve-your-email-workflow/
5. The last reason is ubiquity. Any computer you sign into becomes your email computer. Everything stays the same! The same tags (folders), same tabs, same filters, same everything. No set up needed when you switch computers.
If I were back in the classroom today, the first thing I would do is gather the email of every students’ parent. This is easily done with a form, giving me the ability to send a personalized message to each parent via a mail merge.
Maybe email is dead, I don’t know, tell that to the 150 people sending me messages each day. Until they stop coming in, I need a way to manage my email and these 5 reasons have increased my productivity.