Google Apps Parent's Tips: Calendars

Google Apps is a fantastic tool for organizations.  I was excited when I found out my son would be at a pilot school for Leander ISD's mobile learning initiative.  mLISD has many facets, but a large part of the backend powering the system is Google Apps for Education.  Apps for Education is very similar to the Apps for Work I use at the office and at many universities across the country.  I think having familiarity and experience with these tools is going to be great for my son, now and in the future.

My wife was especially excited because she would have much better access and transparency into his work, especially what homework he has due (Sorry, dude).  One of the main tools for this is Google Calendar, but we were frustrated at not being able to easily add the calendars presented on the teacher's websites to his own calendar.  (We kept getting stuck in an authentication loop when clicking the "+ Google Calendar" button.)  It appeared she'd have to bookmark and check several websites, so that's when she asked for help.

Since my employer uses Google Apps for Work, I'm familiar with Google Calendar.  You can add a co-worker's calendar by entering their email address in the left menu under Other Calendars.  (If you aren't already using Chrome and signed in as your student, you'll probably want to start there before continuing.)

That was my first shot-- let's try to add the teacher's calendar: put in their name and see if his assignments would pop-up.  But these are the teacher's personal calendars, and naturally students don't have access to those.  So, if these classroom calendars don't belong to a person, they must belong to a Google Group.  Each Google Group has its own unique address which can be used for email (send to the group address so all members of the team get it) or even calendar (which you can invite to a calendar appointment, and all members of the group will get the note.  However, visiting my son's Groups page, it looks like he isn't a member of these classroom groups.

So how to add the Group to his calendar?  We have to find the email address and luckily that is in the code of each page on a teacher's site that shows the class calendar.  If you can see the class calendar, you can find the group address; here's how:

Right click anywhere on the calendar and pick "View Frame Source" (you are using Chrome for this, right?).  That will give you the code of the calendar iframe.  It is a mess, so hit Ctrl+F (PC) or Cmd+F (Mac) and search for "".  The first result is what you want.  Generically these addresses look like <school domain name>_<a bunch of random characters>  All the LISD ones start with leanderisd.org_... and end with, so they'll look something like this:

Copy and paste the whole thing into the "Add a coworker's calendar" box on your child's Google Calendar page.

And that's it.  Once you've found all the teacher's websites, searched out the calendar group address and added them as coworker calendars, they will appear under "Other calendars" and all the class calendar items will show in one place.  You can even pick different colors for the classes to help separate the assignments visually.

I hope that helps some other mLISD families out there!