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NowComment for Users Without an Email Address (“Managed Users”)

Once you have a NowComment account you can create NowComment “Managed User” accounts for people without email addresses. The person creating the account is called a “Manager”. This help file describes the most common use case, an Instructor acting as a Manager to create accounts for students who:

  • don't have email addresses, or
  • are not allowed to receive email from outside the school.

[If your school uses an LMS such as Blackboard or Moodle it's probably preferable to ask your IT Dept. to interface NowComment to it directly using LTI, so you can use NowComment without any set-up. See our Education Page for LTI documentation, including this general LTI overview.]

Account Privileges

Managed User accounts have the same privileges as regular accounts, including:

  • creating Groups
  • uploading Documents
  • inviting others to Groups and Documents
except that they won't receive any of NowComment's standard email notifications and reminders.

Creating Student Accounts by Importing a File

NowComment creates Managed User accounts by importing student names from a file (using the far right of the three tabs):

file import tab

The file has to be in Comma-Separated Value (.csv) format, a common plaintext format that looks like this:


Many people use Excel to export (Save As .csv) an existing roster file; if you don't have a roster you can use any text editor to create it (e.g. Windows NotePad, Mac TextEdit, or a word processer like Microsoft Word if you're careful to save it in plain text format). For step-by-step instructions see Importing Roster Files.

If you're using a roster file that has email addresses:

  • don't export the email address field if all students are to be Managed
  • if most students can receive email but just a few can't, export the email address field but then edit the .csv file with a text editor and delete the email addresses of students who can't get email (but leave the comma, even if there's no longer anything after it... every row has to have the same number of commas!)

Once NowComment imports your file it assigns each Managed User:

  1. a password of randomly generated characters
  2. a username derived from the users' first and last names (with user John Doe as an example, the Manager determines whether the student user name should be johndoe, johnd, or jdoe). Characters other than letters are ignored. If our system already has a user johnd then another johnd would get the username johnd02.

Immediately after adding students to a Group or Document the system will take you to a Managed Users page which displays all the associated usernames and passwords:

Managed Users page

You can get to this page in the future by clicking the “Managed Users” button on a Group page that has Managed Users. Your Address Book also has a blue button link that takes you to a list of all your Managed Users.

One way to get students their confidential login information is to print out the display page, cut it up so each pair of names and passwords is on a separate strip (we've added extra white space to make this easy), and then give each student his/her strip privately.

Note that regular user accounts (that have real email addresses) won't show up on any Managed User lists but will instead appear on the appropriate Group and Document pages, with an envelope icon you can click to email that student using your computer's standard email program. Managed Users will have a “strikethrough” envelope icon that can't be clicked.

Editing Managed User Accounts

  1. Changes Either the Manager or Students Can Make
  2. At any time the Manager or student are logged into the student's account they can choose the “Profile and Settings” option from the drop down menu off the student's name (in the top right corner of each page):

    Profile Settings option

    and from there:

    • change the student's First and Last Name — either to fix an error or for FERPA reasons described below.
    • change the Password — even if the student changes this the new password will appear on the appropriate Managed User page, so you as Manager can never be locked out of a Managed User account.
    • replace the student's username with a real-world email address — this will convert a Managed User account into a regular account (that you won' be able to access, but that's fine since Managed User accounts are a workaround for students who don't have email!).

  3. Changes Only the Manager Can Make
    • Only the Manager can replace the assigned username with a different one, e.g. with a nickname or to avoid an offensive string of letters. This ensures that the Manager can always track which student account is which.

Privacy/FERPA Note — If you don't want students' Personally Identifiable Information online then you have three ways to keep students' First and/or Last Names from appearing:

  1. make a copy of your roster, then edit the copy to change or abbreviate the students' names (also remove any real-world email addresses), and then import the edited copy to NowComment, or
  2. Import the roster as-is, then log into each student account and change all the “Profile and Settings” yourself (option “a” above is much faster than this option), or
  3. Import the roster as-is, then have each student change the names in his/her own “Profile and Settings” after your import.

Administrative Logistics for Managed Users

There are at least two ways for schools to handle the logistics of Managed User accounts:

  1. Each Instructor creates a Managed User account for each student in his/her class
  2. Students using NowComment in multiple classes would have multiple accounts with different usernames and passwords, which could easily get confusing… but each Instructor would know the student's user name and password and could supply it if forgotten.

  3. The School's Admin or IT Dept. creates a single Managed User account for each student that the student keeps for his/her entire school career (and gets the password to each student)
  4. Each Instructor would Invite students to his/her class via a list of NowComment usernames obtained from an Admin or IT Dept, who would also get called if a student lost his/her user name and password (though in a time crunch a Teacher/Manager could always create a new temporary Managed User account to let the student do whatever he/she has to do.

Instructors and schools can decide which option will work best for them, e.g. maybe choose option “1” for elementary school students (who are perhaps more likely to forget passwords and more likely to just have one Instructor per year) and option “2” for older students.

[Last updated: December 14, 2017]

© Copyright 2018-2024, Paul Allison.
"NowComment" is a registered trademark of Paul Allison. All rights reserved.

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