By Dewi Parry and Catherine Emmett
Happy new year! We hope you all enjoyed your time off!
For this week’s blog post, we have a joint post with guest, Catherine Emmett, who works in the Learning Technology Systems team. We’re going to focus in this post on a query we got from one of our Schools this week.
The School uses generic email accounts to email students. All members of the School’s admin team have access to read and respond to emails from students that come to this email box. The admin staff sometimes need to send out emails to whole modules or groups of students on modules, and the most efficient way for them to do this is to use the “Send Email” function in the Learning Central module. However, there’s a challenge here; Learning Central doesn’t have any login access for generic mailboxes, so you can’t send an email from those mailboxes in Learning Central. Which means that only individual staff accounts can email out to students, and therefore any time a student hits ‘reply’ to those messages, it sends the reply to that individual member of staff (instead of to the generic mailbox used by all the admin staff).
We investigated logins for generic mailboxes and found that the reason Learning Central doesn’t have this type of login access is that University regulations in relation to identity management and security prevent it. That means we need some other method to help deal with this. The team discussed this and came up with a workaround, which we thought might be useful for other Schools to know about. So, here is the method we came up with. In this case we’re using the generic ELTT mailbox as an example.
Dewi wants to send out a message to students on a module in Learning Central, but he wants any replies from students to go to the ELTT mailbox, not to him, where the others in the team can pick them up if he’s away.
1. Set up an Office365 rule first – using the on-line version of Office365. All members of staff who use the ELTT@cardiff.ac.uk mailbox each set up a rule in their own individual mailboxes. This rule states that anytime an email is received to an individual’s mailbox and it contains (in this example) #cuemailtest in the subject line, it is automatically forwarded to ELTT@cardiff.ac.uk. This rule remains there permanently until the staff member deletes the rule.
To set up up a rule in Office365, use this link to find instructions about Rules. For this particular rule the settings we want will be as per this screenshot:
2. Dewi can now go into the appropriate Learning Central module and clicks “Send Email” from “Module Tools” under the control panel. In the subject line of the email he types whatever the subject title is, then he adds #cuemailtest at the end.
“Dates for the next Workshops #cuemailtest”
Then he types the text of his message as normal and sends.
Now, if a student receiving this message just hits reply and sends back, the #cuemailtest will be in the subject line already, and this should trigger the rule in Dewi’s Office365 email box to forward that student’s message to the ELTT@cardiff.ac.uk mailbox and delete from his own mailbox.
A couple of suggestions and things to note
- Put the hashtag for the rule at the end of the subject line. This way the student reads the subject line first. (After all, this is the important part for the student).
- Use an appropriate hashtag, as not to confuse students. So, for the Business School for example, perhaps #cbsug for undergraduate or #cbspgt for postgraduates.
- Make sure you use the same correct programme hashtag every time – you don’t want to be constantly adding rules / adding one off rules to your mailbox if you can avoid it.
- Why are we using hastags? If we were to use simple words – they might very well end up in titles for e-mails – for example “Undergraduate” or “UG” are common words. A hashtag followed by acronyms is much less likely of ending up in an e-mail title.
- Remember to make sure that every individual admin member concerned will have to do this for their own office365 accounts.
Here’s Dewi with a demo of how to set up the rule and test it.
Any problems, please get in touch with us – ELTT@cardiff.ac.uk
While writing this blog post, Dewi has been listening to: Boards of Canada – 1969 (in C-minor as opposed to the C-Sharp album version!) (2002)