Saturday, February 5, 2011

Update to Google Apps Roadblock

I previously asked for tips on how to interact with students using Google Apps for Education.  The way our district (and maybe some of you) have set up the accounts for teachers and students made interaction between the two groups difficult.

We have teachers/staff set up on a primary domain ( and students set up on a "non-primary" domain (

Here is an update from our technology director:
In our current Google Apps for Education configuration we have set up students in what is called a "non-primary" domain.  This currently causes some limitations due to the way Google Apps handles non-primary domains.   The limitations for Google Groups, Google Docs and Google Sites are listed below.   I'm still trying to determine whether or not Google may be changing the way they handle non-primary domains or whether we should re-consider how we set up students.

Google Groups:

  • You cannot use Google Groups to create or manage groups in non-primary domains.

  • Users in domains other than the primary domain do not have access to the Google Groups user interface. These users will still receive messages from groups they belong to.

Google Docs:

  • You cannot share Google Docs documents across domains using "Get the link to share".A user can share a Google Docs document with a user in another domain by clicking Share and inviting the user. However, when a user selects Get the link to share, recipients at other domains cannot use the generated link to access the document.

  • Sharing a document with a group does not work correctly when the group includes users from other domains. When you share a document with a group, Google Docs generates a link for accessing the document that is based on the group's domain. If the group includes users from other domains, the link will not work correctly for them.

  • You cannot restrict sharing to the users in a single domain. Sharing options are based on the organization as a whole, not individual domains. To share a document with the users in a single domain (or any other subset of users), create a Google Group that includes all the users and share the document with that group.


  • When you share a site with a user from a different domain, the user sees a login screen for your domain. To access the site, the user needs to click Sign in with a different account before entering his or her account information.

  • You can only create a custom web address mapping for a site at the primary domain.


While I would rather use a link posted in our class Moodle, for now I can share documents with student accounts by using the share setting where you type in an email address of the person to share with.  Yeah I know, I did not want to have to type in 150 addresses either but wait, we are using Google Apps which has a form.  I created a form for students to fill in their name, hour and school email.  When I need to share I just copy from the form spreadsheet and paste into the share box of a document.  The only hangup is students will mistype their address.  I make it their responsibility to make sure they are receiving the necessary documents for what we are working on.  It works for now but hopefully Google works on making it so the two domains can interact with each other as one.  I do not have any tips to share for groups or sites since I have not used those two with students.

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