Although I have been a member of gmail since the good old days of invitation-only status:
But, up until this week, I did not use it for anything other than signing up for every web 2.0 service I could find and for giving people access to my google docs. I knew that it was powerful and that it was making everyone else’s life more productive, but I just didn’t see how I could get away from the incredibly proprietary FirstClass email that my district uses. Well, with all of the research that I am doing for Google Apps integration at eDCSD, I stumbled upon this single post that changed everything.
The following string, when typed into Gmail, will allow you to move all of your old mail from your inbox into a folder of your choosing (the fact that you can store things away and label them is also a nice addition to gmail):
If you type that in and then select all of your conversations:
Archive them away. Draw a line in the sand. Start over in gmail. Reboot your life (okay, maybe that goes a little too far).
After I got my inbox down to 4, I started to think about how I was going to put all of the other pieces together.
In gmail, you can now add other e-mail accounts to send and receive from. This means that you can use gmail to be the gateway for all of your mail, not just the single account. While this has been around forever, it was a revelation to me:
This alone didn’t solve my workflow issues, though. I now had to make sure that my firstclass e-mail would redirect completely to my gmail account. Well, it turns out that it pretty easy to do within the Firstclass preferences, but it really isn’t intuitive. You have to go into “messaging” and then under “mail rules” you need to have your e-mail forwarding set to redirect to your gmail account:
I also wanted the ability to do something that I never had within Firstclass, which is write e-mail while offline. It is not often that I am without an internet connection, but whenever I want to reference something in an e-mail and I don’t want to fuss with getting the password at the coffee shop, I need a way to do it. Gmail offline is a great new way to do email.
Another feature that I would like to highlight is the labs addition of the “create google doc” from an e-mail button. It does just what it says… It creates a google document that can be shared and edited directly from the e-mail that you have open. I can’t tell you how many times I have copied stuff over from my e-mail to google docs just so that we can start working on something there. This will not only let me collaborate better, but it will also let me archive things that I want to come back to and work on later:
While all of this doesn’t seem to have an immediate pedagogical impact, I would venture to say that if we are interested in creating the most change within a system that loves efficiency and squeezing the most time we can out of every waking hour, we need to be thinking about ways of taking all of our closed communication channels (proprietary e-mail and calendars, files stored on one hard drive, and even archiving systems that are not searchable to the extent that gmail is) and shifting them to more open ways of learning.
So, I guess to all that are going to tell me that they knew this already, I would say to them: Why didn’t you tell me?