One of the barriers I have found so far in my short experience of using web 2.0 apps with my class of 8 year olds is getting them on to websites that require an email sign up. My class do not currently use school email, and I am not yet at the stage where I want to enable gmail on our class domain.
Last week I spent almost a whole afternoon getting them set up with the google docs accounts I have created for them, and found that choosing a password and inputting a captcha was quite a barrier for children who are not (yet) fast at typing, and are still developing their reading skills. Whilst this was worth the time for a tool as powerful as google docs, it really wouldn’t be for some of the simpler tools out there.
Step in Gmail, and it’s brilliant filtering options…. Basically if you have a gmal address you can set up many different versions of that address using the + symbol, which registration pages treat as different email addresses even if they go to the same place. This lets you sign all your class up, and manage the email verification from one account.
1. Set up a class gmail account
First go to http://mail.google.com and create a new account to use for signing up you class. I chose my class name as the address. If your email is email@example.com, then anything sent to this address with a + symbol and additonal text after it still comes through to the same account. eg; firstname.lastname@example.org still gets sent to email@example.com and you can pick it up.
2. Register on the site
Bascially, go through the registration process on your chosen site once for every pupil. Choose a username based on a scheme you decide. You might want first initial and last name (ajones), or you might choose their full name (annajones), but keep it consistent and it will be easier.
When the site asks for an email input firstname.lastname@example.org, for example for Anna’s account I would use email@example.com .
So, complete the registration process for every child in your class. It’s not best practice, but for younger children you might want to set the same password for every child, or you might want to get the children to choose a password they use for all their Web 2.0 sites and write it down for you to keep in a safe place. Older children who are likely to sign in to each others accounts to mess about should be able to handle the sign up process anyway.
Next, log in to the class gmail account you have created. You should have one conversation with 30 or so emails in it., asking you to click a link to verify your membership for each pupil. Hold control (Or apple/command on a mac) and click each link one at a time. This will open 30 tabs congratulating you for verifying. Close them and you are done, the class can sign in using the user names and passwords you input.
Once you have done this once the whole process shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes per site, and in my experience will save a LOT of lesson time with inexperienced classes!
I could not find the original blog post that put me on to this idea, but if you know where it is then let me know and I will gladly credit them.