Everyone I know hates their school email address, so we set about changing that by getting informal.
School domain names are a strange beast. If you’re a college or university you can pull out .edu or .ac.uk, but if you’re a school chances are you’re stuck with an email address like “firstname.lastname@example.org”, or if you’re from the US “schoolname.k12.sc.us”. Neither of these addresses have any meaning to students, and for teachers they’re simply one more thing to forget.
For schools these addresses denote authority, it’s immediately clear to any recipient that the email they just received is genuine, and if you’re using the same domain name for your school website it also gives a way to validate the address. This thinking is so rampant that in the UK the government even recommends the format of email addresses that schools should use.
The problem is that more online services require students and teachers to login with their email address — Google Apps is a great example. If you want to login to Gmail or Google Drive, unless you use a very specific link which completes the domain name for you, you’re going to be typing your email address again, and again, and again. The same is true if you’re using Chromebooks, try getting 25 students to all accurately remember a 30 character string when you’re under pressure — it’s impossible.
For me this seemed completely unreasonable so I started to look for alternatives. I considered .ac.uk or .edu domains, but these are near impossible for secondary schools to aquire, instead we chose to go the simplest route possible, the good old .com.
“Schoolname.com” is simple to remember, easy to type, and cheap to buy and manage. Admittedly this isn’t an ideal solution, going with .com doesn’t have any of the officialdom that comes with a local government sanctioned address but everyone understands it and users aren’t scared from using their school email account. Teachers and students can still switch to use their official school email address, but their Gmail accounts all default to @schoolname.com.
How do you deal with domain names in your school? Are you stuck with a domain name that takes a week to type? Let me know in the comments.