Start Here

Here's what you need to know to get started with Watkinson's Google Apps:


Mail

  1. The web address to bookmark for this service is http://gmail.watkinson.org.

  2. Google's Mail for Apps is a web-based email service, and not an email program like FirstClass, Apple Mail, or Microsoft Outlook.  As a result, it is accessible from any Internet-connected computer using web browsers like Firefox, Safari, Opera, or Internet Explorer; it integrates Google's lightning-fast search with your email; it offers a huge amount of storage space; and it automatically upgrades itself to include new features as they are released.  Although the interface is nearly identical to Gmail, messages you send and receive with this service use yourname@watkinson.org, not yourname@gmail.com, for the address.

  3. Instead of individual messages and folders, all messages with the same subject are collected as Conversations and each message can have one or more Labels attached to it for easy organization and management.  In addition, you can create powerful Filters to automate the organization of incoming and outgoing mail, and you have multi-level automatic Spam Filters to help keep unwanted email out of your inbox.

  4. If you are new to Gmail, check out the Getting Started Guide.  If you are used to using FirstClass for email, check out our page on Transitioning to Google Apps Mail from FirstClass, and be sure to read about changes to Unsend and History actions.

  5. Help is just a click away.  When you're logged into your email account, click on the Help link on the upper-right of the page.  You can also use our Learning Center Page for Mail to learn more about this App.


Calendar

  1. The web address to bookmark for this service is http://calendar.watkinson.org.

  2. Google Calendar allows you to schedule events for yourself, invite other members of the Watkinson community to events, reserve resources like rooms, vans, and equipment (for faculty and staff only), and get reminders of upcoming events.  By default, other members of the community can see your free and busy times, but not the details of specific events on your calendar (this function can be changed or disabled in Settings if desired).  You can also check to see when resources are booked, which allows you to schedule events when both your invitees and resources are available.

  3. You can create and share additional calendars, not just your own personal one, and subscribe to calendars other people have created.  In this way, departments, teams, and other groups can share calendars to keep everyone informed of important due dates and events.  If you have multiple calendars, each one is color-coded, and their display can be turned on and off to avoid clutter.  If you no longer need an additional calendar you created, you can delete it or transfer ownership of it to someone else.  You can also unsubscribe yourself from calendars other people have created. 

  4. Go to the Get Started with Calendar page to begin learning about this powerful app.  Then, check out our Advanced Calendar Tips and Tricks to take it to the next level.  If you would like to bring your FirstClass calendar into Google Calendar, please follow the instructions on the Importing Calendars from FirstClass page.

  5. There's ample help available if you get stuck.  In addition to the Help link on the upper-right of the calendar page, which goes to the Google Calendar Help Center, there's our Learning Center Page for Calendar.


Docs

  1. The web address to bookmark for this service is http://docs.watkinson.org.

  2. Google Docs is an online service that allows you to create and share documents and files, including word processing documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, and other uploaded documents.  These documents and files are stored "in the cloud" on Google's servers, and are therefore available from any Internet-connected computer with a modern browser like Firefox, Safari, Opera, or Internet Explorer on it.  They also don't need to be backed up like a traditional document -- they're saved periodically as you work on them, and remain online until you delete them.

  3. Docs can be shared with others, allowing them to view and/or collaborate with you on a doc.  This allows teams to work on projects together in the same room or across the world, and provides teachers with the ability to instantly monitor and comment on student work.  Docs can also be made public, either by themselves or embedded within web pages.  This allows quick and easy updating and distribution of information without the need to modify or create web pages as content is added or modified.

  4. Like traditional documents, Google Docs can be printed and saved in formats that allow them to be opened with Microsoft Office and other software office suites.  You can also import documents from these programs, or use your Docs account to store and share documents that aren't for word processing spreadsheets, or presentations (we're talking small files here, though -- not things like movies or music).

  5. One of the most exciting things about Docs is that new features and improvements are constantly being developed.  The Google Docs Help Center is a great resource, and our Learning Center Page for Docs is a perfect place to continue learning about this App.


Groups

  1. The web address to bookmark for this service is http://groups.watkinson.org.

  2. Google Groups are shared places to communicate, like message boards, forums, or Conferences in FirstClass.  There are two ways to work with Groups:  each group has a web page that collects and archives messages sent to the group, and each group also has an email address that can be used to send and receive group messages.  You can obtain membership in groups that you're eligible for, and either view messages on the group's web page, or subscribe to them by email.

  3. An original message sent to the group by email or placed using the group's web page is called a post.  The subject of a post is called a topic, which contains both the original post and any replies to it.  Topics are sorted by date and time, usually with the most recent on top and older posts following.  Topics of interest from across all of your groups can be designated as "starred" favorites if you'd like to keep track of them in one convenient place.  You can also use Google Search to find desired topics.

  4. Groups have different purposes, and your access to them may vary.  Some groups are open to anyone who wishes to post in them, while others are restricted in membership.  Some groups may allow you to read posts, but not create new ones.  Groups can also require moderation for some or all members, where posts are held until approved by a group manager.  Make sure you're aware of a group's posting policies to ensure that your contributions are consistent with the purpose of the group -- otherwise you risk losing membership, or your posts may be placed in a moderation queue before being added.

  5. While Google provides an excellent Groups Help web site that is worth visiting, it describes the public version of Groups.  Many of the features listed are not available in our Apps version.  Our Learning Center Page for Groups is specifically written for our version, however, and it's where we recommend starting.


Contacts

  1. Contacts work across several Apps, including Mail, Calendar, Docs, and Sites, and are accessed from within Mail.  Contact records store information about the people you interact with online, and include a minimum of their name and email address.  You can add additional information to contacts, including phone numbers, additional email addresses, pictures, and physical addresses as desired.

  2. There are two types of contacts you have access to:  domain and personal.  Domain contacts include all members of the Watkinson community with a Google Apps account, and are managed by the school.  When you begin typing a recipient or invitee name in a relevant field, matches are shown automatically .  Personal contacts, on the other hand, are managed by you.  They include everybody you correspond with or approve in Mail, plus any entries you create or import.  Matching personal contacts are also shown automatically when you begin typing in a relevant field.

  3. Contact groups can easily be created to organize and collect people's addresses.  They differ from the Groups App because contact groups are not shared with others, they do not have a separate email address, and they do not include a web interface with archive.  Contact groups can be used to send email to multiple recipients, exactly like a traditional mailing list.  They can also be used to quickly share calendars, docs, and sites with multiple people without needing to add each one individually.

  4. If you have a list contacts in another program, it's easy to import them to your Google Contacts.  Just export your contacts as a CSV file.  If you have more than 3,000 contacts, you'll have to import them multiple times.  If you would like to import contacts from FirstClass, please follow the instructions on the Importing Contacts from FirstClass page.

  5. Help is available on our Learning Center Page for Contacts, or at the Gmail Managing Contacts Page.


Sites

  1. The web address to bookmark for this service is http://sites.watkinson.org.

  2. The Google Sites service allows anyone with a Watkinson Google account to create, customize, and update a web site.  Sites can contain one or more pages, and pages can be regular web pages, announcement pages, lists, or filing cabinets that store files.
     
  3. In addition to text and links, many other types of information can be shared and embedded on a page, including videos, calendars, images, and Docs.  Pages can also include file attachments and a place for visitors to leave comments.  A wide range of site templates are also available -- in fact, this site was originally built from a template!  Check out the template gallery when you're creating a site for some great (and not-so-great) examples.

  4. Sites can be shared with one or more people, and made public if desired (students, however, need faculty permission before making sites public).  This allows groups to collaborate on sites, and provides a perfect place for information to be shared with the community.

  5. Our Learning Center Page for Sites has more information about this versatile App, as does the Google Sites Help Page and their Getting Started Guide for Sites.