[one_half last=”no”]The Gmail content covered here is by no means exhaustive, it does however represent the aspects of Gmail that Music Toolbox has found the most useful. We will be breaking this discussion into 2 parts. In part 1 we’ll discuss reasons for using Gmail, beginning setup essentials, Email forwarding, setting up Gmail to masquerade as your school Email account, and Gmail security.
These articles will not be particularly music focused. That being said, signing up for a Gmail account grants you access to all of google’s services, many of which have strong musical possibilities. There is also a host of 3rd party platforms that allow single sign-ons with your Gmail account (ex. Sound Cloud).
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[title size=”3″]Why Make The Switch?[/title]
[one_half last=”no”]Reason 1: Space
Many institutions are now using Gmail to host campus Email accounts, however for those schools that are not, storage space is often at a premium. It is not uncommon for schools to limit Email storage space to only 1GB or less. This often means that faculty and staff spend significant amounts of time managing Emails in a vain attempt to keep their inboxes under quota. Going over quota will cause messages to bounce back to their senders, often causing important correspondences to be delayed or lost. Further, in an era were more and more teachers are scanning materials as PDFs, it has becomes increasingly difficult to manage limited storage space.
Gmail comes to the rescue with 15GBs of space for each account (you can make more than one).
Reason 2: Support
The amount on capital ($) schools can spend on Email support is limited. I have personally seen instances where a school’s Email server crashed resulted in a long term loss of employee Email access. This is a major problem when it happens in the middle of a semester. When using Gmail, teachers have the full support of Google’s servers, with all of the redundancies that this support entails.
Reason 3: Security
Gmail’s account recovery options and 2-step verification can go a long way towards making your Email account secure. We will discuss 2-step verification in “Setting Started with Gmail.”[/one_half]
Reason 4: Google Apps
Gmail is the gateway to the land of Google Apps. The shear amount of essential eduction tools that come built-in to a Gmail account are staggering. Music Toolbox has detailed some of these tools in our introduction to Google Education article. To summarize, almost anything you might want to do in your online or blended class can be accomplished with one of Google’s built-in tools. The calendar, chat, and Google Drive features are particularly useful and integrate seamlessly with Gmail.
Reason 5: Features
A lot of institutions use open source Email clients. Though these Email clients are often adequate, they lack the polish and features Google provides. Some of these great features include: the ability to open and view files of all types, in-message image and video support, and the ability to view Email in full HTML. Google also provides considerable language support. If you have colleagues working overseas or if you often get Emails in tricky languages (ex. Mandarin & Arabic), Gmail is a life saver.
Reason 6: Robust Filtering
Gmail comes with a set of very robust filters that let you sort, prioritize, and delete messages automatically. I use this feature to keep my inbox lean and mean, making sure that the endless stream of professional organization Emails don’t bury messages from students. As teachers, it sometimes seems that the educational discounts we get, are not worth the trouble caused by having to give out our school Emails address as validation. Filters allow you to direct these messages into the “storage receptacle” of your choice.
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[title size=”3″]Getting Started with Gmail[/title]
[one_half last=”no”]Step 1: Setting up a Gmail Account
Signing up for a Gmail account is super easy and beyond the scope of this article. For more information, please refer to Google’s own documentation here. When you sign-up for a Gmail account you will also be walked through the process of setting up a Google+ account. Even if you do not use the social media aspects of Google+, being a member of Google+ give you access to the super awesomeness that is Google Hangouts, an essential tool for all online educators.
Step 2: Email Forwarding
Forwarding your Email to Gmail is relatively easy, but it does not happen inside of gmail. In order to setup a forward, please refer to the documentation provided by your institution of learning. This may sound intimidating, but it is usually a very very simple process.
Step 3: Masquerading!
It is possible to use Gmail to sent mail from other addressees. If you followed step 2, messages from your school Email address will forward into you Gmail. We will now setup your Gmail account so that when you respond to a message from Gmail, the “reply-to” address will be your school Email. In short, Gmail will be masquerading as your institutional Email.
G. Paste verification code in the blank, and then hit “verify”.
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[title size=”3″]2-Step Verification[/title]
The last thing we suggest, for people using Gmail to interact with students, is 2-step verification. A lot of people get their Email accounts hacked every day, and these hacks usually attack peoples’ address books. The more students you interact with, the higher the chance that one of these students will unintentionally send you a hacked Email. You can find a description of these attacks here. There is nothing more embarrassing than having your Email hacked, and then having messages sent out to every colleague you know, resulting in their Emails also being hacked.
2-step verification halts this process by adding another level of security to the sign-in process. I will leave it to Gmail to describe how-to set up 2-step verification. In short, a small app on your smart phone generates a 6 digit code that you enter after your password. This code changes every minute, so it is impossible to guess.
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