As we move toward using more online learning environments and Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, wikis, forums, course management systems (Moodle, Elgg, etc) the need for student email accounts becomes obvious. Many of these applications require an active email account just to allow a user to register. Most offer teachers the ability to send email to students, either individually or as a group, enhancing communications functionality. There are, of course, many other arguments in favor.

Do any of your districts provide email accounts for students?

* Beginning in what grade?
* Does your IT dept manage them?
* Do you use a subscription service? Which one?
* How do you monitor use?
* What are there legal implications?
* Does your AUP address email?

Thanks for the feedback.

Tags: blogs, email, forums

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Tom,
We have not supplied the kids with e-mail in past years, but we're going to set it up this summer. We're going to use an open source product called Zimbra that we've been testing. It's very robust, and has lots of features we won't be using, but it keeps all the messages to and from the kids in house, which is important in some cases.
We (the ESD Tech department) will manage the accounts, but we already manage network and domain accounts, so it won't be extra work.
We will be modifying the AUP to include proper use of e-mail addresses and messages. We will likely start using the e-mail addresses at 6th grade, but that detail hasn't been worked out, yet. We already make the student/parent sign Internet AUP at 6th grade, so it made sense to me.
We won't monitor use, and we're considering not allowing e-mail out of our firewall. Give the kids an address that they can use with teachers and other students, but only allow mail generated by the students to stay within school district boundaries. This is the only 'legal' issue we're worried about. Also, to sign up for on-line tools/sites sometimes you must have a valid e-mail address. Hopefully these issues will be nailed down in a week or two.
Remind me and I'll send you an update.
Michael
Michael, I checked out Zimbra and it looks like a terrific piece of software, at least as far as I can tell from the info on the web site. We have FirstClass which is not free but it is our "district standard" and since student accounts are discounted or IT guys will purchase the seats. We will have to modify our AUP consistent with the manner you describe. FC allows us a great deal of control including limiting the domain(s) that kids can send/reply to etc. Thanks, and I will check with you later.
Although my district does not provide email accounts, many in Maine do. We have never been able to come up with a satisfactory AUP. Students that have internet at home usually have their own email (gmail is popular). Google does have some student mail tools, I believe. There are other providers that give strict control over accounts - most are by subscription and their names have presently escaped me.
Our network admin is familiar with Maine's widespread use of email in middle schools and was quite enthusiastic based on what he has found out. I am hoping that the AUP won't be the sticking point for us, but we have yet to discuss the implications with our district lawyer. Thanks for responding.
We have our own internal system. The accounts are set up as needed by our Lead Teacher. They are in house so we can access them if needed. We us MailEnable which is a Webmail feature. Now, I 'm not sure of all the ins and outs behind the scenes but it seems we have control over much of what happens. So far we are still ironing out some glitches. I think that it will take the rest of this school year to get the bugs out. In other divisions that I have worked in, they all use inhouse systems for monitoring. With the problems that can happen with students emailing other students, I've found it very useful to be able to see what is going on. It has really helped when something is reported. Everyone is made aware that this system is for school purposes, accounts can be accessed and emails can be tracked. Parents are made aware through our computer use policy.
Kelly, our thinking runs along the same lines as you and your district; giving parents access, monitoring messages, specifying that the accounts are for school use. The idea that email is not a private document is important as well. Thanks.
We provide district email beginning in the fourth grade. Currently we have a company host our email and do all the filtering. We're switching everything over to Google Apps at our Domain this summer. However we needed to be able to filter and archive all the emails so I talked to Gaggle and they have now set it up so I can use gmail as my interface but it filter's through Gaggle. Gaggle costs but it's worth it not to have to worry about it myself. With Gaggle I can set it up so that email violations are managed by either the classroom teacher, the building IT person, or me. Yes our AUP addresses email use.
Hi all,
We have quite a few of our GenYES schools that use Gaggle and all are really happy with it. There is a free version to start with and even that gives a ton of controls. As others have mentioned, it's flexible and has different levels of control (teacher, building, district, etc.)

They have blogs, chat, and storage space too.
Luke and Sylvia,
Thanks for your replies and the feedback about Gaggle. Combining gmail with Gaggle is a great concept.
Hi Tom, we were planning to use Google for education mail next year, to get round our inability of filtering free of charge we decided that the accounts would be per family. Account information would be in the hands of the parents. After reading sylvia's message I think I'll take a look at Gaggle.
Hi Susan. The family account is a great concept. Gaggle does offer a high degree of security and filtering, free with adverts, and pay per account without. Thanks.
With Gaggle can you send and receive emails from non-Gaggle email accounts, or does it limit you to corresponding with other Gaggle accounts like ePals?

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