Can the settings be changed?
Teachers are owners (managers) of the group, and can change any of these settings. Do this under the "Manage" section when in the group by changing the setting of "Who can post messages".
What's the best way to easily have access to my SchoolZone (Class) Groups in Google Apps?
Go to Groups
, click on a class group, then click "Manage" (on the right side). From the left-hand menu, click Information...General information - and copy the group email address for each of your classes
, and then make a personal contact with an easy-to-remember name, like Period 1 Social.We re-create the Groups each year with a slightly different name. We also will delete the previous years' groups. We cannot "reach into" your Contacts (in your "My Contacts" in Google) and remove or modify them, so yes, staff would have to change the email address associated with that class if they are teaching the same class.
Do I need to create these contacts every year?
Yes. Keep in mind that I'm not aware of any other districts who auto-create class lists as Google Groups, so in EPSB teachers need to change the email address for "Science 9 - per 1" every year (if they don't want to just use SchoolZone for sharing), while other districts' teachers create and maintain class groups manually.
What if new students join the class? Do they have access to everything I've shared?
Sharing with that email address is dynamic. If students are added to that group, they then have access to docs, videos, sites shared with that Group. If they are removed, they lose access. Of course, Google isn't going to go back in and re-send every sharing notification with them, but if you have the links to the resources posted in SchoolZone or on a site, they'll have access.
Can I email classes that I don't teach?
Groups are auto-created by SchoolZone (and synchronized with PowerSchool data nightly). Groups include all students as "members" and the teacher as the "owner". The only way in Google to let a teacher email other class Groups would be to include every teacher in every school Group, which wouldn't be good ( think of how many notifications you'd get). The other way would be to allow "anyone in the domain" to email any group, and we are not comfortable with that. If school admin wants to send a message to all students, a list can be generated through PowerSchool which can then be used to send emails through gmail (there are sending limits though - only an issue for large schools).
What's the easiest way to share a site, doc, or email a class?
Since students need to go through Schoolzone to get to Google Apps (except on Chromebooks), I'd recommend using the District systems we have in place. To share websites, put the link on Class news or school news, to email a whole class (or classes and their parents) use the email feature in SchoolZone (it auto-generates an email with all recipients in the BCC field) and use the paperclip (attach) feature in SchoolZone (for homework). We've put a lot of work into automating the sharing for teachers sharing to their classes. While some like to stay inside the Google world because of the consistent look, the way we tie things together means that it's likely the least amount of hassle to use SchoolZone.