Volume VII • Issue III • October 2011
Do U IM?
Instant messaging has become a standard way of communicating for most kids today, and as time goes on, an increased
number of adults are embracing this technology as well. In fact, according to Portio Research, there were over 311 million
users of instant messaging in 2010! With all of this instant communication going on, IM is a phenomenon schools won’t be
able to ignore for long. And there really are a lot of advantages to being able to instantly but discreetly communicate with a
colleague or one of your students.
That’s why we recently rolled out the newest addition to our Gaggle Apps solution with the release of Gaggle Instant
Messaging. Our two-stage rollout of this new feature started by giving IM to all educators. Educators were given the ability
to chat in Gaggle with each other, and with any students logged in to Gaggle, both during and outside of school hours. In a
little over two weeks teachers in Gaggle sent almost 46,000 instant messages! The collaboration and sharing of instructional
ideas and support is a lot easier when teachers can ask each other a question without leaving their desk or trying to catch
each other in the hallway between classes. Further, intervention for a student situation or even technical support can be
requested quickly and discreetly if administrators and support personnel are logged into Gaggle during the school day.
In the second stage of the rollout process, students were given the ability to IM one another. While the number of teachers
who made use of the instant messaging feature so quickly might come as a surprise to some, what is more, students have
sent 1,661,213 messages to date. Since we have introduced IM to students in Gaggle, a whole new set of questions have
emerged. How can we leverage their desire to connect and communicate with their peers? Can instant messaging support
and enhance instruction? We think it can.
Instant messaging can be a powerful tool to facilitate peer-to-peer tutoring. Studies show that students benefit from peer
tutoring, as they often receive an immediate clarification of information. In addition, tutors are given an opportunity to
reinforce their knowledge and skills, build their self-confidence, and develop a sense of responsibility. Giving students the
ability to chat with each other opens the door for an easy to manage, online peer tutoring program. The good news is that
kids do talk to each other about school and what they are learning. So the trick is to keep instant messaging during school
hours focused on the “learning”in social learning, and encourage the students to use it effectively.
Do you use the “Ask Three, Then Me” policy in your classroom? If so, consider using Gaggle IM as your communication
tool. Instead of having students up and wandering around the classroom asking questions, with Gaggle IM students can
“Ask Three, Then Me” right from their computer. Of course if they can’t get the clarification from their peers, they can ask
Have you ever considered giving students the ability to “phone a friend” or “ask the audience” on an assignment, test or
evaluation? With Gaggle IM, you can give your students the opportunity to collaborate with classmates, without disrupting
the testing environment. With the Gaggle IM monitor, you can also see the questions they are asking, which may help you
when it comes time to remediate the material.
Gaggle understands that tightening budgets make it difficult to provide Gaggle training for your teachers, which is why Gaggle
continues to offers several free webinars each month. To register for one of our free webinars visit www.gaggle.net/webinar/, or use
the convenient Portal Link on the panel in your account to see all our upcoming offerings. The webinars run about 45 minutes and
are offered at multiple times so you are sure to find one that fits your schedule. If you are looking for a more customized training,
Gaggle offers fee based webinars. Our trainers will create a webinar specifically for your school or district. These webinars are 90
minutes and include Q&A, brainstorming, and open-ended discussions. For more information regarding our free and fee based
webinars contact [email protected]
Volume VII • Issue III • October 2011
Collinsville ISD, Collinsville, TX
Teachers Love IM Too!
Collinsville ISD in Collinsville, Texas was not only the first “free”
school in the state, in the 1900’s but was Gaggle’s first district to roll
out Gaggle IM with their staff. Currently the district enrolls just under
600 students grades K-12, with grades 7-12 actively using Gaggle in
the classroom, since 2007. Collinsville also uses Gaggle for its primary
email for their 100 district employees, including administrators, faculty
make budget and free up funds for other projects by providing services
like email, archiving, safe texting, digital lockers, and now messaging.
As a small school district being able to afford these tools and leverage
existing infrastructure is crucial. The IM client actually helped us to
fill a need that has been present since we migrated from Netware to
Windows and thus lost our IM client at that time. We could not be
It was determined that Collinsville would go without IM, until Gaggle
announced the upcoming release of the IM feature. The Collinsville
staff was excited to hear the news that IM was coming back for the
2011-2012 school year.
Even though right now the district has set the access level to Educator
Only, which allows communication between teachers and students,
the district is looking at adding IM between students. Ken believes
that with Gaggle’s ability to filter and log all chats, along with the IM
monitor, teachers and students benefit from incorporating IM in the
Earlier this year, Ken Kemp, Intermediate Principal and Director of
Technology, was faced with the dilemma. After providing Collinsville
employees with Instant Messenger for several years, due to a migration
issue from Linux to Windows, it was now unavailable. Ken’s staff had
come to rely on IM as an important communication tool and pleaded
with him to find another IM service. In his quest to find another
service, two issues kept arising: federal law required archiving of all IM
communication between district personnel and the cost was extreme if
he wanted to provide an archived IM service as a standalone feature.
Ken notes that “With the IM client Gaggle introduces yet another
solution to everyday problems faced by schools. Gaggle has helped us
Collinsville relies on staff IM to contact teachers regarding changes
in the schedule, general announcements and reminders all without any
classroom disruption. Administrators like the IM feature because they
can quickly IM a teacher if a student needs to be pulled out of class
for an administrative referral. Even the office staff uses it for student
dismissals or student reminders. Of course teacher’s love being able to
communicate with each other quickly and easily, while Ken appreciates
that all conversations are logged.
XMPP Federation with Gaggle IM
Gaggle’s new Instant Messaging feature allows for instant, real-time communication between Gaggle accounts. There are times, however, when you
may want your users to be able to use instant messaging with services outside of Gaggle. If your accounts are on the gaggle.net domain and your Instant
Messaging settings allow for it, all your users need to do is add their outside buddy’s chat address to their list in Gaggle. If your Gaggle accounts are on a
custom domain, you will need to configure the domain for XMPP federation.
XMPP is an open standard for instant messaging communications that powers several different chat systems (ie Gaggle IM, Google Talk and others).
Because it’s an open standard, users on XMPP-based systems can talk with users on other XMPP systems. In order to configure your custom domain
in Gaggle for XMPP federation, it’s a simple matter of adding 3 new text records in your DNS. These entries are the equivalent of MX records for IM
traffic and tell outside systems where to send messages to your users. If you would like to configure your domain for XMPP federation, please contact
a Gaggle Client Sherpa for assistance.
Question: I don’t understand what the blue “chat” box is in the bottom right corner of my account? I thought we already had chat rooms.
Answer: I’m glad you asked! You’ve found our newest feature in Gaggle: Chat Instant Messaging! This new feature allows you to communicate with
other Gaggle users. You can add users as a chat “buddy” by clicking the “add buddy” link in your chat window. You can also request a person to be your
IM Buddy from the directory! To do this, you’ll open your Directory from the mail menu, right click on the user, and request them to be your buddy! If
you have any further questions, please let us know!
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Volume VII • Issue III • October 2011
Gaggle Archives “The Cloud”
Archiving and Back-Up services for Google Apps and Microsoft Live
It is common knowledge that schools and districts are required to have a reasonable records retention policy. In general email and other electronic
communication must be archived for a reasonable amount of time. Of course the question becomes what is reasonable? Some states have declared this
to be as little as 2 years and others have said as many as 10 years. No matter what reasonable means to your district, Gaggle lets you to set your own
retention policy and offers an affordable alternative for email archiving. Gaggle offers archiving solutions for hardware based systems like Exchange
and Groupwise, but we’ve also seen more and more districts move to “the cloud”.
Gaggle has been meeting districts in “the cloud” for over three years, by providing cost effective archiving services for Google Apps. Gaggle makes it
easy for IT Director and Teachers to locate messages in the archives and export the data for Freedom of Information requests. What has been reported
to take days in some systems takes only minutes with Gaggle. Google Apps customers can even back-up their Docs, Calendars and Google Talk, so if
a document is accidentally deleted, it can easily be restored. We are now even ready to provide this service for [email protected] customers.
If your district is looking to migrate from a local email system to the cloud, we can also help. Our Data Migration will help you move email, calendars
and other data to the cloud from systems such as Exchange or Groupwise, and we can consolidate your archives into one place.
Did You Know?
Many Gagglers’ know that anyone with an account can personalize Gaggle, by selecting one of our plain color, sports or illustrated themes. Did you
know that at the school or district level a custom school or district logo can be uploaded to replace the Gaggle G in the upper left corner? From
the Basic Tab on the School Set-Up Page, School Administrator access level or higher can upload a custom logo for your school or district. If you
have already uploaded a custom logo, but notice a border or space around the image, try re-uploading. Upon re-upload the image should resize itself,
removing any borders or spaces.
With the new updates and enhancements Gaggle Blogs are taking off. Did you know that recently Gaggle made some significant enhancements to
Blogs? Gaggle has added several plain color themes to complement the originally released themes, so now you can select one of your favorite color
combinations for your blog. Also, you can now subscribe to a blog. Once you comment on a Gaggle blog, you will now have the option to subscribe to
their blog via email. The new subscription option makes it easy for teachers to receive notification every time a student posts a new blog entry.
Gaggle Client Sherpa’s are often asked about making our calendars available to parents and the school community. You asked and Gaggle delivered!
You can now embed public calendars in other web pages. There is new a field on the calendar detail screen . You can copy this text into any HTML
and it will display a simplified version of the calendar in an external web page. This is an easy way to provide access to your Gaggle calendars on your
Since August, many of our schools and districts have embraced Gaggle’s new Cyber Safety Course as a way to meet requirements for teaching cyber
safety. Did you know that Gaggle recently released a Spanish version of the Cyber Safety Course? Now, whether you have the course set to force before
using Gaggle or to display as a link in the application menu, students have the option to complete the course in Spanish or English.
A Gaggle Introduction
Aaron Terronez, a Gaggle Client Sherpa, has been entertaining his co-worker and customers for nearly three years. Aaron graduated from Illinois State
University with a BS in Exercise Physiology and was a Health and Fitness Coordinator before coming to Gaggle. This could account for why he did so well
in a recent Gaggle Wii tournament.
Aaron is a native of Silvis, Illinois, which is located between the Mississippi and Rock River. He claims this is the reason why he loves being outdoors. When
Aaron isn’t working, you can find the entire Terronez family (Casey, his wife; Isabella, his daughter; and Annie, the family Shih-tzu) camping, boating or
canoeing. When the Illinois weather isn’t conducive to being outside, Aaron fills his time cheering on the Chicago Bears, Bulls and Cubs.
If you ask Aaron what he likes most about Gaggle, it is the company culture. He appreciates that at Gaggle employees are encouraged to be themselves and are
free to build relationships with customers. Aaron believes that those relationships go a long way when people need assistance with their Gaggle accounts. If
you have questions regarding Gaggle, Chicago sports, improving your Wii skills or the great outdoors, Aaron Terronez is just a phone call away!
P.O. Box 1352, Bloomington, IL 61702
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