Google groups comes as part of the Google Apps for education package and allows for the creation of mailing lists and online discussions, in which you can add posts within topics that include text, images, links and documents. Topics are searchable and particular tags can be added to topics. One of the benefits is that any document uploaded to the group can then be opened and edited in google drive, making it a fully collaborative experience.
Setting up a Google Group
It is quick and easy to set up a google group from the Google homepage, using the menu in the top right. From this menu you can select ‘Groups’. This will open up the list of groups of which you are a member and allow you to set up a new group.
After selecting to ‘Create Group’ you will be given the option to give the group a name (this will then be replicated in the email address for the group), give the group a description, select group type and assign permissions. The email address for the group will allow emails to be sent directly to the group.
There are 4 different group types available, selecting a group type will control the initial set up of the group. You can choose to change specific settings to allow options from each type once the group is set up.
Email List – An email list allows users to post from the web or through email. This is a mailing list group.
Web Forum – A web forum allows people to interact with the group and have engaging and interactive discussions on the web. It has web optimized features enabled including moderation tools. Group members post topics and replies through the web interface, but can still receive updates via email.
Q and A Forum – A Question and Answer Forum is a web forum with extra features enabled to support the experience of asking and answering issues. Topics can be marked as resolved or be rated by users. In addition, you can use categories to organize questions within the forum. People must post through the web interface, but can still receive updates via email.
Collaborative Inbox – Topics can be assigned to other members and treated as tasks which can be resolved or reassigned. Additional options are available to control who can assign and receive tasks.
Adding users to the group
You can add users to a group using the manage tab on the Group homepage.
This will open a list of the current members of the group and allow you to add or invite new members using the menu on the left hand side. This menu includes;
Invite Members – This option will allow you to send out invitations for users to join the group using their email address.
Direct Add Members – This option allows you to directly add users to the group without an invitation being sent.
Outstanding Invites – This will allow you to view invites you have sent to users that have not been responded to.
Join Requests – This will allow you to view any join requests that have been sent to the group.
Adding a topic
To add a topic use the ‘New Topic’ button from the group homepage.
This will allow you to add a new topic to the group and depending on the group settings will give other users different options to respond. You can add text, images, files and links using the text editor. You can also choose to Cc in specific users email addresses to ensure they receive the post, even if they have chosen not to receive email notifications.
Replying to a post
Once someone has posted in a topic users will be notified by email (unless they have unsubscribed) and then will be able to reply to the post. This can be done using either the ‘Post Reply’ button or by using the reply options in the drop down menu. These options allow you to reply to and forward a post, edit a post if you created it and also get a direct link to that post or reply.