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iMail

Documentation for iMail.

Site: Remote-Learner.net
Course: Remote-Learner.net
Book: iMail
Printed by:
Date: Sunday, 25 June 2017, 4:42 AM

iMail Introduction

iMail provides flexible way for students and teachers to communicate in a one-to-one, one-to-many, and/or many-to-many fashion. However, for many reasons schools or institutions may not want to use standard email for their courses. The iMail tool provides a 'closed garden' email like system, where all messages are kept within the Moodle LMS, by giving students and teachers an inbox for each course.

iMail provides each student with an inbox for each course, the ability to create email like messages with drafts, attachments (single or multiple), contact lists, and all the usual features of a WebMail program. The main difference between iMail and a webmail/email integration (such as the Moodle-GMail integration) is that _all messaging stays within the Moodle system. There are also available options for content reports and for parental view/copying of email messages between students.


REMOTE-LEARNER iMail INFORMATION SHEET


iMail provides an inbox/contact list for each course, with standard email client functionality, providing a flexible user to user communication system within Moodle.

Why iMail

Email provides flexible way for students and teachers to communicate in a one-to-one, one-to-many, and/or many-to-many fashion. However, for many reasons schools or institutions may not want to use standard email for their courses. The imail tool provides a 'closed garden' email like system, where all messages are kept within the Moodle LMS, by giving students and teachers an inbox for each course. What is iMail?

iMail provides each student with an inbox for each course, the ability to create email like messages with drafts, attachments (single or multiple), contact lists, and all the usual features of a WebMail program. The main difference between imail and a webmail/email integration (such as the Moodle-GMail integration[1|#ftn1]) is that _all messaging stays withinthe Moodle system. There are also available options for content reports and for parental view/copying of email messages between students.

Typical iMail Customer:

iMail is designed primarily for two customer types:

  • K-12 systems that do not want the liability of supplying or requiring students to have a public email address
  • Any institution who wants an internal messaging system with the features of webmail within the context of a course in an LMS.
Business drivers:
  • Enables user contribution - enables students to communicate with individuals, groups, and/or teachers within a known set of users who have been loaded into the Moodle system.
  • *Enables administrators to uncover bullying and disruptive behavior -*with the optional reporting system, the iMail tool enables school administrators to monitor and mediate inappropriate behavior, while enabling responsible users to realize the many benefits of a web based collaboration tool.

iMail Features:

General Features:
  • Users can see all messages in each inbox, and see by color which they have read already
  • Users can store messages in folders they create
  • Users can print out their email(s)
  • Each course gets its own inbox, showing how many messages are in each course
  • The system provides the standard email functions of Drafts (unsent messages the user is working on), a display of mail already sent, and a trash folder that will store deleted items until it is emptied
Composition Features:
  • Users can attach multiple files to a message and resend sent messages
  • Sending messages, creating folders, and changing settings can be configured by role (for example a site administrator could set up a role that can read messages but not send them).
  • Email can be sent to any and/or all users in a course
  • Standard Email Carbon Copy (CC) and Blind Carbon Copy (BCC) can be used
  • Users utilize the standard Moodle HTML editor, which provides for spell-check, rich HTML email, and special characters, as set up on the site
Choosing who to send the message to
  • Users can type the name of people they want to send a message to, or pick from a list of users in the course
  • To, CC, or BCC can be chosen as the option for different users

Course Based Features:

  • Users can be filtered by Moodle role (teacher, student, etc.) in the contacts list iMail inboxes
  • Each course the user is enrolled in can have its own inbox
  • The course inbox shows the number of messages for that course
Viewing Messages:
  • When viewing a message, users can reply to the sender, reply to all recipients, forward the message, delete it, and/or print it
  • Viewing the message shows the attachments and their file type (pdf, ppt, jpg, etc.)
Printing messages:
  • The print button opens up the print preview
  • Automatically opens up the printing dialogue for the default printer

Optional features:

Content (aka 'Bad words') report:
  • Site administrators can be sent a report that shows if students have used selected 'bad words' in their emails to each other. The report will show who has sent what to whom, enabling school or institutional administrators to intervene in developing situations. Site administrators can elect whom to send the report(s) to.
Folder quotas:

Site administrators can use this feature to limit the size of user's inboxes

Administration Settings

Once the block has been installed go to the Administration block > Site Administration > Modules > Blocks > iMail. This will open the block configuration screen:

iMail block settings

The settings here are fairly self-explanatory.
  1. SSL - if this is enabled and SSL is setup on the site, email will be encrypted.
  2. If this is enabled users can choose to receive alerts in their external email account of new messages in their iMail inbox. If this is turned off - set to "No"- then no users on the site will receive email alerts from iMail in their external email (note that this does not deactivate forum post notifications, etc.).
  3. This setting will create an inbox for each course
  4. This uses an older user selection method for selecting contacts to send the email to.
  5. This will enable users to send email to site administrators
  6. This is the color that emails a user has answered will show up as.
  7. This is the color that will be alternated when viewing email to help keep them separate.
  8. This can be used to limit how many course mailboxes will be shown - though the system will only show mailboxes in the iMail block if there are new messages (the user can see all their inboxs when they go into the iMail block).
  9. Available in ELIS 1.8.8+ versions
iMail block settings

Role Permissions/Capabilities

In most cases the default capabilities are sufficient, however there are six iMail permissions that can be modified in a given role and context if necessary:
iMail permissions list

The iMail Interface

The iMail block - teacher and student users can see the iMail block in Moodle courses that have the block added to the course homepage. The following image is showing a teachers view of the iMail block on their course homepage.

iMail block teacher view

When a user clicks into a course inbox they see the full iMail interface:

iMail inbox

In the course inbox the user can...
  1. Click the New Message tab to compose a new message
  2. Click the New Folder tab to create a new folder.
  3. Click the Edit Lists tab to create new lists
  4. The user can click the "Settings" button to change their inbox settings (see below).
  5. View their messages, and sort by date, subject, and sender by clicking the Subject, From, and Date links.
  6. Unread messages are highlighted in the color set in the Admin settings, while read messages will be white (or the Moodle theme background color if it's now white).
  7. They can select a message and move it to another folder and they can select a message or messages and mark as read or unread.
  8. The "Mailboxes" block shows all the courses the user is enrolled in and whether there is new mail in those courses.
  9. The folders list shows the user's folders and they can click the folder name to enter the folder (for example click the "Trash" link to view the trash. If the user creates a new folder in step 2, it will show up in this list.
  10. The user can enter text to search - iMail will search the full text of the messages and the user's names
New Folders:
In the image below a teacher is adding a folder within the inbox to store emails related to administration.

iMail new folder screen

This folder can be accessed from the Folders block in the iMail interface. Select the + symbol next to the inbox to see/select the Admin folder.

New folder link

Interface menus:

The "Move this message to:" drop down enables a user to move selected messages to a different folder. In the image below the teacher is moving a message to the new folder that was just created.

Moving messages to a different folder

The "Mark as:" drop down enables a user to change the status of selected messages from Read to Unread, or vice versa.

iMail Mark As drop down menu

The search interface has 2 modes: simple and advanced. In the simple mode it just searches all text, user's names, message titles, etc. for the keyword(s) entered. In the next image "admin" is entered in the search field.

iMail seacrh block

Advanced search enables the user to search in a more filtered manner:
iMail advanced search
For instance by folder, or by where the keywords searched for are (sender's name, subject, etc.).

Printing messages: iMail enables users to select one, some, or all of their messages and print them. Selecting messages and clicking the Print button will open up a new window with the collated messages and the user's printer interface.
Printing an imail message
Note that attachments are not printed directly, to print attachments you would need to open the attachments and print them from within the application that handles them.

Deleting messages:
Deleted messages are sent to the iMail trash:
iMail trash
A user can go into the trash and move a message out by selecting the message and using the "Move this message to:" drop down. Or they can empty the trash by clicking the "Empty Trash" link.

The User Settings

The user settings can be edited from the iMail Inbox screen. Select the "Settings" button in the upper right hand corner.

iMail user settings button

The user settings enables the user to customize a few things about iMail:

iMail user settings
  1. Select Yes to have alerts about new messages sent to your regular email account.
  2. Select Yes to hide the folders from other courses and not show them in your inbox.
  3. Set the email refresh rate in minutes using a value from the menu of choices.

Sending Messages

When you click "New Message" you are taken to the email authoring screen:

iMail new message screen

On this screen you can:
  1. Click the "Contacts" tab to see a list of users in the course you are in, which you can select to send your email to. You can also choose to send emails to user lists from the contacts screen. You can create user lists by going to the "Edit User" tab.
  2. Click the "Choose a file" button to select a file to attach to the message. You can attach one, several, or many files to a message. Note that currently iMail does not attach files in the Alfresco Repository, so you can only upload files as attachments (you can however link to repository files via the link and/image tools in the HTML editor).
  3. To attach files drag and drop files onto the Attachment space or select the "Add..." link.
  4. You can use the Moodle HTML editor to compose your email on supported browsers.

Selecting contacts:


When you open the contacts button, you will see the users you can send mail to in your current course. Click the "To", "CC", or "BCC" buttons to add users to your email. You can send to all users on a screen by clicking the "To all" link, shown in the header of the user list in the next image.

iMail contacts pop-up window

The users are added to the message - so you can go through all the pages in the page menu (at bottom) and add all users if you want, although most often sending a message to all users is done via the Moodle forums.

Lists the user has created will also be shown with the contacts. The user can send iMail to users in the list by selecting the list from the contacts screen:
  1. Select the "Show Lists" link. Once it is selected there will be a "Hide Lists" link, as shown in the next image.
  2. The lists this user created are shown at the bottom of the users list on page 1.
Groups in the Contacts pop-up window



Searching for a user:
You can also search for specific users in via the search tool - this searches the user's names and can be handy in large classes.

Searching for users when sending email

When you are done adding users to the message, click the "Close this window" button to return to the main email composition screen.

iMail new message

Now you can click the "Send" button to send your email, or the "Save Now" button to save it as a draft, or the "Cancel" button which will delete your message.

Just like regular email, you can't 'unsend' an iMail email, so make sure it's ready before hitting sendwink.

Creating Lists

iMail lists can be created or edited on the "Edit Lists" tab. For this example I have logged in as a student user of a course and accessed the iMail Inbox via the block in the course.

To create or edit a list:
  1. Select the "Edit Lists" tab.
  2. Select "New List" from the menu of choices. Existing list can be edited by selecting them from the menu of choices as well.
  3. Enter the name of the new list and select Create.
iMail edit lists screen

Once the new list is created users can be added to it.
  1. The new list is shown in the drop down menu of the image below. The list can be deleted by selecting the Delete button.
  2. The list can be renamed.
  3. Users from the class can be added to the list.
Creating an iMail list

Once a list is created by a user, the user can send iMail to users in the list by selecting the list from the contacts screen:
  1. Select the "Show Lists" link. In the image it shows "Hide Lists" because the "Show Lists" link has already been selected.
  2. The list this user created is shown at the bottom of the users list on page 1.
Groups in the Contacts pop-up window

Hidden Courses, Metacourses, etc.

Hidden blocks and hidden courses:

The idea of iMail, in general, is to facilitate communication between members of courses. Thus, if the a user is enrolled in a course, she/he can see the inbox for that course and email other enrollees of the course, even if the block is not installed in the course, or if the block is hidden in the course.

However, if the course is 'hidden' or set to be not available to students, the students cannot see the inbox for that hidden course.

Metacourses:

When a meta-course is used, students see an inbox for the metacourse as well as the inbox for the child course they are enrolled in (if they are enrolled in a child course). This enables users to email students who are in their same child course specifically, as well as email students who are in the metacourse.