Managing all contacts at schools or educational institutes requires a lot of work. You need to ensure that the email ads, phone numbers, and other contact details of the students are up to date. Though it’s not just the student database, but as well as their parents or guardians. Additionally, the whole faculty, staff, and other stakeholders as well.
In order to make things run smoothly, your educational institution — be it a K12 school, university, school district, or club — should consider a proper contact management solution that allows the teachers, instructors, and staff to save time on manual work and focus on the most important aspect of their job: teaching.
If you’re not sure how to proceed, we can help! Let’s go through the most common issues related to contact management in Google Workspace for Education, and see how to solve them.
Common challenges for educational institutes including K12, school districts, and universities
Information gets lost when there is no centralized contact database
Schools and institutions using Google Workspace for Education have a problem with contact management. They have difficulty organizing according to their classes the voluminous contact information of students and by extension, of their parents. They experience this issue because Google Workspace does not allow users to share contact groups with anyone.
Furthermore, sharing with multiple people creates problems in the long run as some information is private and confidential.
For example, students cannot know certain information about other students. Thus, those who manage the database must make extra precautions to ensure that all private information is handled with care.
You can create contact lists (a.k.a labels) in Google Workspace for Education. Unfortunately, you cannot share those contact lists like how CRM users do. This is because Google Workspace for Education has no in-built sharing functionality. Each user needs to individually create their own labels. So, when a user updates particular contact information, it does not update the other labels from other users’ devices. All the other users are to update the contact detail separately.
Let’s look at a simple example. A new student joins mid-year, then each different teacher and staff member needs to update their individual lists separately. What an admin nightmare!
To add to the mix, the pandemic brought on new technologies related to remote teaching which then introduced a new set of communication issues, as there is no centralized database for centralizing students’ contact information.
Being able to collaborate and keep up to date on confidential information regarding students is a crucial part of a teacher’s work.
This way, they can better understand their students’ situations and support them accordingly. The teachers may lose some insight when they aren’t meeting for coffee breaks. It’s not an ideal situation.
When everyone stores information separately and teachers, professors, and other staff are not necessarily meeting face to face all the time, they might not know certain information about their students.
Shared Contacts for Gmail® allows all staff to leave comments on the students’ contact cards in order to keep up to date with anything that is going on with the students.
Levels of confidentiality need to be taken into account
In Google Workspace for Education, there is the main directory of all users’ emails and other contact information. In this directory, the information is gathered in the same place without any separation.
So, an educational institute like a university will have a list of thousands of people together in one place, the Google Workspace directory.
This, then, doesn’t work well when some of the information needs to be confidential — for example, the list of vendors or the personal address of a professor.
You cannot simply share the main directory with all students because they will automatically have access to all the information in that directory.
Instead, you need to be able to 1) organize the different people in different lists, 2) give access permissions to certain people, and 3) make certain fields only visible to certain people.
And for this purpose, Google Workspace for Education is a limited tool.
Different technologies bring on new challenges
To add to the mix, educators use a lot of tools in classrooms. This occurs especially in remote settings as well as under regular circumstances.
If you’re using a tool like Zoom, and you wish to invite an entire class to a Zoom meeting, you cannot easily do that without a proper contact database.
With a tool like Shared Contacts for Gmail®, you can easily send an invitation to a whole contact label or list through any tool you’re using.
Maybe your educational institution is using an IP phone. It would not function properly if the contacts are stored separately on each of the hundred professors’ devices. You need to have a centralized contact database for that.
The situations mentioned above are defines why educational institutions need a single contact base synchronized. Moreover, the synchronization with their users, apps, and devices according to their permissions. This avoids the hassle of looking for -or missing- information.
Never lose contact information
Then, there’s the matter of not wanting to lose contact information, and you have to make sure that you have the ability to restore lost contacts.
Without a proper contact management system, you cannot restore lost contacts easily, and you might accidentally delete all information without ever being able to find it again.
With Shared Contacts for Gmail®, you can choose to archive — or to permanently delete some of your address books each year or semester.
How can you make the most of your Google Workspace for Education?
Shared Contacts for Gmail® is the perfect contact management solution for Google Workspace for Education. It is a cloud-based tool designed to help you with your contact management issues.
It provides teachers, professors, and other staff with a centralized, collaborative address book organized by classes or other categories. Moreover, this app perfectly synchronizes with their Google Workspace tools, their mobile devices, and other third-party apps they use every day.
How to get started with Shared Contacts for Gmail®:
✅ Organize your contacts into lists or labels
✅ Share the lists with the relevant groups of people (with the relevant authorization & access permissions)
✅ Define which information is confidential (e.g. personal phone numbers of teachers etc.)
✅ Encourage your staff to add comments and collaborate using the centralized contact card. This makes everyone have the same level of information.
Read more: Google Workspace for Education