How to Create an Email List for Your Class
Having an email list for your kids' class can be quite convenient, especially if you need to coordinate all the parents at the last minute. Each person managing his/her own collection of email addresses can create a lot of problems. Some people might not have all the email addresses, or some addresses might be incorrect, or some people on the list may change the email addresses at some point. This is a tutorial on how to set up an email list for your class using Google Groups which is a free service.
The technical aspects of this is relatively simple, but there are some tricky things that you need to consider. Firstly, someone needs to be the manager of the list. So, the first question is whether there is anyone in your class who is willing to manage it.
The second question is whether you should include the teacher or not. If you include the teacher, it is likely that the list becomes a channel for the parents to communicate with the teacher. This might not be a good thing for the teacher. Also, if the teacher is included, there are certain issues that you would not be able to discuss (such as what to get for her/his birthday.).
You also want to make sure that the list is private (Google calls it "restricted"). You would not want this to be a public list where anyone can read and join.
I would also suggest that the name of the list contain the school year, since the list member will change every year.
And, here is the trickiest part: When creating an ordinary email group/list, you would send email invitations to the members, and the members would have to confirm and accept them to join the list. This would work fine if all the members are relatively tech-savvy. In our situation, we have a diverse group of people, and some of them may not be so comfortable with this type of things. So, if you were to send invitations, it would probably take weeks, if not months, before everyone is on the list. If the list does not include everyone, it is useless because it cannot be used as an official mode of communication, and nothing important can be communicated through it.
My suggestion to get around this problem is to skip the invitation step and add them directly. Google allows you to do this, but they do have to review your account in order to prevent email marketers from abusing the system. You just have to explain to them that your list is for your kid's school, and that not everyone is technically savvy. They should approve your list within a few days.
This means that your first step is to collect everyone's email addresses. Some people may have multiple addresses. If so, ask them if they have a Gmail (Google's free email service) address. It would work better for them.
Go to Google Groups, and if you don't have a Google (Gmail) account, you will need to create one. Once you have an account, you will be able to create a group by clicking on the button labeled "Create a Group".
This first page is where you specify the name and the type of the group. As explained above, make sure that "Restricted" is selected.
On the second page, you will be asked to enter the email addresses. Instead of entering them on that page, click on the link that says, "Add members directly".
You will get a warning that tells you to use this feature carefully. They'll probably put your list under review anyway, so you don't have to worry about this. You can copy and paste all the email addresses that you collected.
You may not have been able to collect all the addresses, and you might have to add more later. If so, go to the main page of the group and click on "Management tasks".
Then, click on the "Manage members" tab. Then, click on "Invite members".
Again, don't forget to click on "Add members directly".
I hope this is helpful, and enjoy your new list!