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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gmail+1 = Student Email Addresses to Register for Online Services

The Gmail+1"hack" isn't a new trick and I can't remember when I first tried it, but it still works and it still provides a solution to a problem that a lot of teachers run into when they want their students to use a new web tool. Let's say there's a new service that I want my students to use but my students don't have email addresses that they can use to register for that service. In that case I can quickly generate Gmail addresses for my students by using the Gmail+1 hack.

Here's how the Gmail+1 hack works:
1. Create a new Gmail account just for your class. Example mrbyrnesclass@gmail.com
2. Issue email addresses to students as follows mrbyrnesclass+1@gmail.com, mrbyrnesclass+2@gmail.com
3. Gmail overrides the "1" and "2" at the end of the mrbyrnesclass and sends all emails to the inbox at mrbyrnesclass@gmail.com however almost all other services that require an email for registration will recognize mrbyrnesclass+1@gmail.com as distinct from mrbyrnesclass@gmail.com
4. Students can use the "+1" emails to register for services, but I get to see all of the emails coming and going.
5. Because of #4 above I may have to confirm all of my students' registrations on a new service.

Disclaimers:
1. I don't believe that this hack is endorsed by Google. I have been corrected on that.
2. This hack doesn't work on every service so your mileage may vary.
3. Don't give students the password to the class email address (in the example above I would not give students the password to mrbyrnesclass@gmail.com) because if they have it they could all send and receive email from the account. The passwords that they choose on  the services that they register for should all be unique and they should not share them with each other.

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