Setting up a sync job - step by step

A sync job contains the following settings for syncing a set of SIS classes to Google Classroom.

  • Source data
  • Field mappings
  • Scope rules
  • Update configuration
  • Automation settings

To create a sync job, navigate to the job list and use the + icon create a new job.  If you have existing jobs, you can save a lot of time by cloning and modifying an existing job.

Step 1: Job name & type

Step 2: Source data & mapping

Select the source CSV file that contains your enrollment data. Don’t worry if the file contains more classes / records than you intend to use in this job. You’ll be able to exclude them in step 3.

In most cases, assuming you were able to join all required fields into a single export, you will need to identify only one source file.


Once your file(s) are selected, use the expression builder (gear) icon next to each field to open the dialog construct the appropriate mapping for each field. By clicking on the fields on the left, you can add them to the expression. You can include string values as separators, as you prefer, by placing your cursor in the expression field.

The Class Alias field is the least obvious, and most critically important. The alias is used to provide a unique tag each Google Classroom class that is part of the job in a way that makes it available for future updates. For more on class aliases, see the article and video on data requirements.  Here are some tips for constructing a good class alias:

  • Something like “SchoolID-CourseID-SectionID-Year/TermID” is quite common.  Note that these fields DO NOT NEED TO BE CONCATENATED IN YOUR SOURCE DATA, and you will have more flexibility if they are left as separate fields.
  • The string should be unique across multiple schools, and across multiple terms and years.
  • Build it using stable record IDs (like Course ID, Section ID, etc.) instead of human-readable values. The alias isn’t going to be seen by anyone except the Little SIS admin, and human-readable course names, etc. have more potential to change, creating problems with your sync.
  • Separate the different terms in your alias using a dash (“-”). This will make them somewhat more readable to you as you review staged jobs.

The following fields populate human-facing sections within Google Classroom:

  • Class Name (required)
  • Section (optional, but strongly recommended this be constructed to appear something like "Period 1")
  • Room (optional)
  • Description Heading (optional, rarely used)
  • Description (option, rarely used)

If your classes are organized by bell schedule period, it's recommended to use the word "Period " followed by the field for class period, as described above.

 

Step 3: Job scope & rules
Verify the initial view of classes to be synced.  Clicking on the green button, will load a preview of all classes. This number should be the same as the number of unique class sections that exist in your data export file. If this number is dramatically off, the likely culprit is that your alias construction is incorrect and will need to be revised before you can proceed.

Add inclusion and exclusion rules to match the group of classes and/or teachers you want included in this Little SIS job.

Inclusion rules provide the outermost container of the universe of classes to include. Adding multiple inclusion rules increases the boundaries of the set. In the example below, all classes within the school with School ID "AA" have been included, which is 224 classes.  Exclusion rules can then be used to subtract classes from the total included via inclusion rules.

Adding multiple exclusion rules further reduces the number of classes in the job. In the example above, an exclusion rule has been added for a class containing the name “Physical Education,” reducing the total number of included classes from 224 to 203.

 

Step 4: Update Preferences

Roster Updates

These settings determine whether to add and remove students in linked Google Classroom Classes based on SIS data, and whether to notify teachers of roster changes made by Little SIS. In general, these should all be selected. In some cases, where you may suspect lags in your SIS source data, you may consider disabling the “Remove non-SIS-enrolled students” option.

Teacher Notifications

In general, we recommend notifying teachers in all three cases described in the interface above.  If you have concerns over email volume, be aware that...

  • Notifications are always rolled into a single email per teacher within the same sync job.
  • Update notifications are not sent on classes for which the teacher has not yet clicked "Accept" (e.g. PROVISIONED classes)

Class Links

Little SIS makes it possible to auto-detect and establish linkages between SIS course sections and existing, teacher-created Google Classroom classes.   These settings control whether this ability is on/off, what date range of teacher-creation times should be included in the realm of potential matches.   We highly recommend leaving both of these options selected, and ensuring that the start-date for teacher class creation begins at a reasonable span (30 to 60 days) before the beginning of the current school year.

Teacher Changes

These settings determine how Little SIS will handle changes in the SIS-listed teacher for an existing, linked Classroom class (e.g. arising from teacher leave of absence, termination, etc.) Because Classroom itself does not permit a “change of ownership” on an existing class, our recommendation is to let Little SIS add the newly-detected SIS teacher as a co-teacher in Classroom, and to send a notification to both teachers, as well as the admin email. This arrangement will be minimally disruptive students, provided the departing staff-member’s G Suite account is not deleted (disabled is fine).

 

Class Field Overwrites

These settings determine whether Little SIS should overwrite values on class information like Course Name, Section, Room, etc. on linked Google Classroom classes. In general, these should not be selected unless you have a specific purpose, such as enforcing a class naming convention, or ensuring accurate room numbers.

  

 

 

 

 

Step 4: Automation settings

These settings determine the extent of automation to apply to the sync job. Typically, as you are beginning to sync a new swath of SIS classes, you will want to start with “Stage and execute this job manually.” This will permit you to iterate -- carefully reviewing staged changes before they are applied, tweaking your settings, and re-staging as needed.

If you are near the beginning of a school term, more roster changes are likely to be applied with each sync, staging the changes may take Little SIS some time, and yet it may be desirable to always manually review the changes before they are applied. In this case you will want to select “Stage this job automatically on a schedule, but hold staged changes for manual execution.”

Finally, once you are comfortable the sync job is set up appropriately, you will likely want the third option, which provides a “set it and forget it” experience that nevertheless imposes some safeguard thresholds around unintended mass changes.

Setting reasonable values for “hold analyzed changes for manual approval” is an excellent idea, in case -- for example -- a data export error were to result in an incomplete or partial source data file, or a major enrollment error was made in the SIS.