Note: cross-posted on Cliotech
The problem that many teachers face when having students create user accounts for web applications is that most applications require a valid e-mail address to create the account. There is a solution that I learned from Alice Mercer about harnessing Gmail to create “fake” accounts that applications will recognize as legitimate.
Create a legitimate gmail account at http://mail.google.com/. (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org). Then, you can use that base account to “trick” web applications that require e-mail address to create user accounts. The way it works is that you add a + and a student name/alias after the gmail user name (e.g. email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, etc.)
The web applications will recognize those addresses as real e-mail addresses, but students never see an inbox. They cannot send nor receive e-mail because you haven’t actually created an e-mail account for them; they don’t have a password to sign into Gmail. Any e-mail (i.e. registration confirmations, etc.) that are sent to the username+name@gmail accounts will be delivered to the Gmail inbox that only you can access.
I have used this to register students for blogs, wikis, and other Web 2.0 applications. The one catch is that it does not work when registering students for Google applications, like Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google Notebook, etc.
So, here are those instructions as steps:
- Create a legitimate Gmail account at http://mail.google.com/. (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Add a + and a student name/alias after the Gmail user name (e.g. email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, etc.)
- Start registering students for web applications
- Check the inbox of your Gmail account periodically