Sunday, April 7, 2013

Google Apps for Admins: GMail

We’ve all grown attached to our email programs, but there are some distinct advantages for using GMail as your email client when you’re an educator, and particularly as an administrator.
Here’s my top five reasons to use GMail in an educator’s life:
1. Ability to search all emails - using the search box at the top of the page, I can search all my messages using boolean language or search terms specific to a mailbox. Using the arrow drop-down on the right-side of the search box, I can tailor my search to find EXACTLY what I what immediately.

2. Filters - Once I’ve search for exactly what I need, I can create a filter that allows me to always know where I need to go to find the email I need. For instance, have you ever needed to find that ONE email from that ONE parent from MONTHS ago? If you create a filter, all of those emails that you want to keep, but you know aren’t emergencies, can direct themselves into your pre-designated label. Now, your inbox stays clean and you choose when you’re prepared to tackle which emails!
To create a filter, perform a search and then click on “Create a filter with this search”, and you will then be directed to the box below to choose how you want to filter those messages.
3. Labels - Labels are similar to folders and live on the left-hand side of your GMail homescreen. If you have set up filters to automagically redirect messages to particular labels, you can access those emails by clicking on the label name. On the bottom of your list of labels, you can click “Manage Labels” or “Create New Label”, but you can also do this same thing my clicking on the setting icon  and clicking on the “Labels” tab.

 4. Priority Mailbox (Important & Unread, Starred, and Everything Else) - One FANTASTIC setting in GMail is the ability to differentiate between your Important email, your starred email and everything else. Since I’ve been using it, it usually identifies important email based on the person it is coming from. I have yet to receive an email in
my “Important and Unread” section that is not, in fact, important. I star the emails that need some sort of follow-up, and those emails are strategically placed below my “Important and Unread” emails. And then, of course, there is “Everything Else”. Nothing is left out, but it is prioritized for me in a way that has proven to be meaningful for me and has increased my efficiency. 
5. Labs - Last, but definitely not least, when I train teachers and administrators about GMail, Labs are some of the most fun. Labs allow you to personalize your GMail experience. HOWEVER, labs are experiments and they might not always work asplanned and a lab function that you pick could go away, so don’t grow too attached too soon. Here are some of the options you have in labs: placing the chat bar along the right side, rather than the left-side of your homescreen; adding Google Calendar or Google Docs gadgets on your GMail homescreen, so you can see all your productivity tools in one space at one time; Preview Pane allows a quick preview of any email by right-clicking on the email message, without having to open it; Canned Responses allows you to automatically set canned responses for particular emails or labels. You can find more labs in Settings.

There are some amazing features in GMail that dramatically increase efficiency and productivity and if you’re anything like EVERY educator I know, having a little help to get paperwork and email done more quickly so you can spend more time with your students is always a PLUS.
  • This post was cross-posted from the resource-building that I do with Sony, Inc., located at - please visit there for more information and great suggestions from other ambassadors across the United States.