Setting Up Your GAFE Site – Tips for New Admin Users

A question for the Techy Coach this week focused on the proper setup for a Google Apps for Education School using Nexus Tablets.  While I don’t specifically have documentation or training materials for this topic, I thought I’d share some of the information and links our district has come across in setting up devices for our site.

Organizational Units

One thing that you will want to pay close attention to when setting up users and devices, is how you set up your Organizational Units (OUs) in the Google Admin Dashboard.  Organizational Units are used by third party apps and services, and can be used as contact groups.  You will also use these OUs to configure services for users differently.  So for this reason, the method to your madness – in setting up sites, grade levels, students vs. staff – is important.  Tips:

  • Separate your students from  your staff.
  • Develop subunits for Staff to define roles (Admin, Faculty, Staff)
  • Separate Students by grade or graduation year
  • Make a Practice OU to test things like settings and configurations out
For more information on setting up OUs, click here.

Email / Username Setup

When configuring the usernames for users, decide on a convention that easily identifies students from staff.  First.last for Staff and Last.First for Students.  

Apps for Staff/Students – Chrome Web Store

To help your students and staff get started, create a district page for suggested Chrome Apps and Extensions.  There were several Apps for Chrome that I knew our teachers might want to look into right away, such as Socrative or Remind.  To help them, we created our own page.  There are tips for setting this up here.

Do’s and Don’ts for Google Services

There are several Google Services that are ideal for the classroom, but at the same time, there are others that may not be best for student use.  This is a great reason to make sure that you have your Organizational Units set up to define who can use what.  Once that is done, pay attention to these services:

  • Google Hangouts – Great for in class Virtual Field Trips, but the Hangouts Chat option may not be something you want set up for students.
  • Google Photos – might want to turn off for students to avoid inappropriate content from being uploaded.
  • Off for Students – Google Analytics, Google Groups, Google Payments, Google Voice
  • On for Older (13+) Students – Blogger – great for content creation, YouTube – great for projects and content creation. 

Google Apps Settings

Inside the Google Admin Dashboard, there are several settings that your district can control that make use of Google Apps much easier and more friendly.  Here are some suggestions that we have found helpful:

Rapid Release vs. Scheduled Release

Google updates their apps from time to time, and some users want the new features right away, while others need some time to get training and get used to changes.  Free Gmail Users are on a Rapid Release schedule, meaning that as soon as a new feature is available, it is rolled out to them.  GAFE and Google For Work can be setup for either option.  Scheduled release can be setup to provide time for training.

Google Classroom 

  • Turn on Email Notifications – this allows students to receive an email when a teacher posts new information in Google Classroom
  • Teacher Group – When teachers first sign in to Google Classroom, they identify themselves as a teacher.  It helps to manage and use the approved teacher list in case a teacher makes a mistake and clicks Student instead.  Use this link to see what I mean.


  • Enable Contact Sharing – this allows your students & teachers to find each other easily in Gmail and Calendar.


  • Limit Delivery to Internal recipients for younger students.  See More
  • Enable Read Receipts to track collaboration and response to emails for students.
  • Enable Labs – There are some great labs in Gmail that are helpful to teachers for corresponding with students and parents.  One that comes to mind is Canned Responses.  

Other Tips for Getting Started

The list of suggestions for getting started can be rather lengthy.  It is often useful for a district to enlist the help of a third party to audit your setup for optimal use.  Often, the seller you purchased your devices from can provide this service.  However, there is a wide knowledge base, as well as support articles online to help.  Several have been listed here in this article, but others can be found here:

While this is not a inclusive list of everything you would need to know, it will get you started.  Hopefully this will help some of you out there as it has helped our district.

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