We will depend on Google Groups for several aspects of the TRC Online Learning Community. Probably most important will be the email lists
that this service allows us to provide to our community. Email lists have often proved the easiest collaborative tool for educators to adopt, since the required technology skill is simply to use an email application. The expectation is that eventually, multiple TRC Google groups will exist. The following steps are written in a general way to help our participants join any TRC Google group if they have been given the URL.
Joining a TRC Google Group
To join follow these steps:
In the resulting window, click the option Apply for Membership to the group. After clicking this link, you will be asked to set your preferences for receiving group emails and to provide your project director's name. Set your preferences to "send each email individually, to begin with. You can return to change this preference at anytime. Group moderators will approve these requests for memberships daily. You will receive an email confirmation upon approval.
- If you don't have a free Google account create one by visiting this URL https://www.google.com/accounts/NewAccount
- When you are asked for an email use the one that you would like to receive group emails at. It does not have to be a Google email, your institution email is fine. Do not use an email you never check! Save your log-in email and password! For now, the TRC Online Community will require you to log into its individual components separately. Consider creating a TRC Word or Excel document to which you add the name of each tool along with its log in process.
- Use the following URL to "Sign in" to Google using your existing or new account email and password, before going to the next step.
- Now that you have a Google account and have signed in, click a link from the following list that matches the group you are trying to join.
Your Participation in the Email List
As a group we will create a list of tips for participation in a group email list based on our experiences. The following will get us started:
- To send an email to the entire group, address the email to the appropriate group from this list:
- Replying to an email will send your reply to the whole group not just the person who posted.
- Make sure the subject of your email completely describes what is discussed in your email. It is doubtful everyone will read every email posted, the subject may determine who reads and replies to your email.
- If your email is a reply to someone else's post, leave the subject as re: <their subject> . This will make it easier to follow a discussion thread.
- If your institution blocks Google group emails, you will need to use another email for your participation such as a free Google or Yahoo email. Alternatively, you can follow and contribute the communication on the Google group web page.
Managing the Emails from Your Group
The primary complaint with email lists is often that when they are successful, the number of emails generated can make it difficult to manage. There are two approaches you can take to keep your participation painless.
Change Your Google Preferences
The Google service offers a great deal of flexibility in how often you receive group emails, or even allows you to get "no email" from the group. In this case you would read everything from a Web page.
- After you have joined a group, visit the group page by clicking on one of the following links:
- Click on Edit My Membership in the right hand column.
- Answer the Question: How to you want to read this group?
- No Email (read from web page)
- Abridged Email (no more than one per day summarized)
- Digest Email (up to 25 emails bundled)
- Email (Each message by itself as it arrives)
You can change the preferences as often as you need.
Create a Mail Rule to File Emails as they Arrive
If you receive all emails separately, you might want your group communications separated from your normal email communications so that they can be read at your convenience. Almost all mail applications provide a means of setting up mail rules to solve this problem. This will insure you can easily find group communications and also keep it from "mixing" with your normal email traffic. The basic idea is to define criteria such that any email containing <GROUP NAME> in the from field should be moved or transferred to an offline folder dedicated for this purpose. Here are two links that describe steps required. If you find steps for other email applications, please submit the URL in your comments, and the link will be added to these.