Using Class Listservs
A listserv is like a hobby club. It's a gathering place for people
who have similar interests. It just happens to occur in cyberspace through
the medium of email.
Listservs are great places to meet people with similar interests in
a safe environment. You will meet a variety of people on most listservs--from
true experts in the field to novices. Listservs are great places for
teachers to get their classes introduced to the power of email.
One easy place to get started without any prior experience is at the Yahoo
Groups web site located at http://groups.yahoo.com/.
It is very user friendly and will provide you with all the information
you need to start your class list.
- Postings are public, so it's easy to evaluate
- Postings are with real people, so it's more motivating for students
- It gives students a chance to interact with experts and possible
mentors in the field.
- It provides a great "practice field" for email. You can and must
directly instruct students about
| Some terms you need to know:
Moderated – this means that you will monitor the messages
and approve them before they are sent to the whole list.
Advantages: .Not difficult to administer, and it ensures
that only appropriate material is posted to the list.
Unmoderated – this means that messages are posted directly to the entire
list without further approval.
Disadvantages: It takes a great deal of time, some may feel they are
being censored, and postings are much slower to get to the list.
Advantages: Extremely easy to administer, it takes very
little time, it allows more openness of expression, and it requires
a more active role among the participants to "police" the list and
Disadvantages: you will get occasional inappropriate postings—including
personal insults, inappropriate language, and "spam" (junk mail).
| Yahoo Groups gives you a number of options to choose from. You can
Subscriptions—anyone can join or just people you approve can join
Anyone, list members, or just yourself be able to post to the list.
A Web presence—viewed by anyone or just list members
Members list—viewable by only you, or by list members
If you are unsatisfied with any of the options you choose, it is an
easy matter to change them.
Getting students to participate on a Listserv
This is always a challenge, so if many of your students are reluctant
to publicly post to the listserv, it’s pretty normal. Some suggestions
While it is no easy task getting all your students to understand how to
use email effectively, it is well worth it. In the current information
age, the students who grasp the interactivity concept will be way ahead.
Utilizing email is the key!
- Go over netiquette rules. Printing a hard copy of them is a good
- Require postings as a graded activity. *Note: while some students
will contribute readily, others will only do so "under duress".
- Have specific assignments for posting to the list: Brief introduction
- Questions about the class
- Reactions to assignments
- Topical assignments on technology issues
- Class/school issues
- Participate in the list yourself. Bring up topics of interest and
post them and respond to your students' postings. This will serve
as a positive role model for your class listserv.
- Require students to respond to messages on the list. * Note: some
students will do this naturally while others will need to be coerced.
- With some work you may be able to enlist former students to participate
with the class listserv. Some of these students may end up serving
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