Recently, I had a situation where I needed to attend to some official paper work the appointment of which was at the time I was teaching. I couldn’t estimate how long it would take so I was not sure whether to postpone the lesson, or ask my teaching partner to take over, or simply give them a task and return to class as soon as I am done. Since I thought it would not take long and maybe after the first lesson I could continue with teaching, I decided to go with the last option.
However, the problem was informing the students. If they were informed before the lesson, there’s a chance that they wouldn’t turn up. I had asked them to bring their laptops and the task I prepared for them was perfect for self-study individually or in pairs/groups. So, I started to search for sending scheduled emails. The first thing came up was “boomerang”. I didn’t have much time, so instead of exploring more, I installed the extension immediately. This gives you one month pro trial.
Soon, I found out that my school account on Gmail does not support this extension, so I had to use my alternative Gmail account. I copied and pasted the contacts and composed an email to be sent at 8:30 am, which is 10 minutes before the lesson starts. The email explained the situation and asked them to start working on the task attached. The task required them to search on the Internet about some endangered species, choose one from the list and prepare a PowerPoint presentation based on an outline provided. They had a lesson time to do the task which I assumed wouldn’t be enough for a proper task completion. Yet, keeping in mind that there could be early finishers, I composed another email scheduled to be sent at 9:30 am, which is the end of the first lesson. In the email, I asked them to first go to “geddit” and check in there, and to state whether they finished. I could see their check ins from my phone while dealing with the paper work. An early finisher task was also attached in the email scheduled to be sent at 9:40, which is after the break, and students were informed that this email would come in the previous email. This was preparing “kahoot” questions for the vocabulary for that lesson’s input. To take the attendance, in the email I asked them to go to the chat room I had opened in our section “moodle” and type that they were there. I also set the chat room to be visible at the end of the first lesson. My final email scheduled to be sent later at 10:30 am was just in case I was still not there. Since I arrived before that I deleted it.
In sum, using “boomerang” and with some extra arrangements, I could do a distant lesson. It required some prep work. Another situation could be that you might be on the move at a time you need to send en email, such as an exam result to students.
For scheduling emails another tool is “rightinbox“. Both boomerang and rightinbox are subscription based services and allow you to send limited number of scheduled emails per month for free. Also, if you are concerned about privacy, these are not very suitable for you since you grant them access to your inbox. An alternative idea I found on the Internet is using Google Sheets, which is explained in this post.
How to use “boomerang”
Go to http://www.boomeranggmail.com/ and click on “install boomerang”. It’s explained well step-by-step. After the installation, compose and email as usual, you’ll see the following “send later” button:
When you are finished composing your email, click on “send later” and schedule your email:
That’s it, you don’t need to do anything else. If you want to see and edit your scheduled emails, click on the “boomerang” icon and click on “manage scheduled messages”: