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, open the app and click 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 (if you are using the same enrollments file).

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Step 1: Job name & type

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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.

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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 and 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.

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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. Tip: add the school year manually to the end of the expression if you do not export it from your SIS.
  • 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 Sync 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.
  • It's best practice not to use teacher identifiers in the alias, as this will prevent Little SIS Sync from being able to transfer the ownership of an existing class in cases where the teacher changes in the SIS, and thus the alias.

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

  • Class Name (required)
  • Section (optional)
  • 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 in your Class Name field (as shown above).

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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 according to the mapping in the previous step. 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.

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Add inclusion and exclusion rules to match the group of classes and/or teachers you want included in this Little SIS Sync job. It is best practice to include at least 1 inclusion rule. If you want to ensure all classes are created, A common inclusion rule to catch all would be Teacher Email (or whichever column matches up with that field in your CSV) contains @.

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 the inclusion rule.

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Adding multiple exclusion rules further reduces the number of classes in the job. In the example below, 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.

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Step 4: Update Preferences

Roster Updates:

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These settings determine whether to add and remove students in linked Google Classroom Classes based on SIS data. In general, these should both 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. 

We also recommend leaving the "Remove" option unchecked in order to allow teachers to have greater control of their rosters in situations that may warrant having students in a Classroom who are not enrolled in the class in the SIS, or in a situation where a student may be removed from a class overnight, but the teacher needs additional time to access their coursework in order to close out their grades. 

Teacher Notifications:

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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)
  • Note that you should deselect these options if you are pushing out Classrooms before notifying teachers of the sync. While not recommended, we do understand this may happen, in which case you do not want Little SIS Sync to be the first to tell the teachers they have new Classrooms. For change management recommendations and a teacher email template, visit the best practices section in the Helpdesk.

Class Links:

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Little SIS Sync 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. When looking for linkages, we recommend the start-date for teacher class creation begins at a reasonable span (30 to 60 days) before the beginning of the current school year. Note that all linkages are manually approved in the Sync Analysis process.

Teacher Changes:

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As of August 2017, when a primary teacher changes in the source file, the existing, active Classroom will be transferred to the new teacher. The previous teacher will remain in the Classroom as a co-teacher, and the new teacher can remove them within Google Classroom. Note that if any teacher identifier exists in the Class Alias, this feature is void, as new Classrooms will be created and assigned to the new teacher on the next sync run.

 

Class Field Overwrites:

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These settings determine whether Little SIS Sync 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, changing the naming convention on already-synced classes, or ensuring accurate room numbers.

   

Step 5: 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.

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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 Sync 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.”

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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.

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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. We also highly recommend including an email where sync notification emails should be sent, as this allows your Little SIS Sync admin to ensure syncs are running successfully without having to log in to the server to check.