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E-mail for the Classroom Teacher

Why would a teacher want to use e-mail? Let's look at the answer to that question in two parts: from a personal, professional perspective, and from the perspective of what your students could do with e-mail.

PERSONAL

E-mail gives you access to a communication system that is fast, economical, and global. An e-mail message sent from BC can be in an electronic mailbox anywhere in the world within minutes, and for no additional charge to what it cost to connect to your Internet Service Provider (ISP). You can correspond with teachers who are working on the same topics or grades as yourself, and share strategies, frustrations, ideas, and insights. You can access experts in subject fields for information and advice. It's not just "conversation" either -- you can share text files, such as lesson plans, handouts, and bibliographies.

This sharing doesn't have to be at a one-to-one ratio either. You can be part of a world-wide group of networkers who all have similar interests and have subscribed to a "listserver" dedicated to a specific topic or group of people. There are thousands of such listservers available, some with a broad appeal (e.g., Teachers in general), and others intended for a narrow audience (e.g., BC Business Education Teachers). A list operates by e-mail. When one subscriber sends a message to the list (e.g., "Does anyone know ....?"), that question is read by the dozens, or hundreds, or thousands of other people subscribed. People who know the answer reply, and again everyone can read the message. The list isn't just used for asking and answering questions. Discussions, arguments, debates, and controversy can also be found in abundance.

Here are a number of links which can get you started or provide more information.

Educational Listservs
This CLN page has resources, and some links to resources, which will provide teachers with information which will allow them to make effective use of listservs.

Internet Guidebooks/Resources for Beginners
This CLN page provides links to Internet guidebooks and other resources which may help you learn more about your personal use of the Internet.

Online Directories: E-Mail addresses & Telephone Numbers
Looking for someone's e-mail address? This CLN page has links to a number of directories which may help.

YOUR STUDENTS

Giving e-mail to your students provides them with the same fast, economical, and global communication system. They can send e-mail to other students or to experts in the field. The dialogue might be quite mundane ("my name is ... , what's your), or students can gain valuable insight by sharing information about culture and personal lives with students from other countries and with far different styles of living. There are many teachers who are looking to set up such links -- subscribe to our Internet Invitations Listserv for daily announcements.

There can be much more to student use of e-mail than just corresponding back and forth through "keypal" arrangements. You can link up with numerous Internet classroom projects, where classes from different parts of the globe work together in a joint project. Essentially, the classes conduct certain activities in their own school (e.g., collecting data, writing stories, doing research) and then share the results with others in the group by e-mail. These projects can range from simple to complex, from K to 12, and in all sorts of subject areas. Again, you can subscribe to our Internet Invitations listserv if you wish to get announcements of these projects.

You can also link your students to other people through e-mail. For example, there are professionals who are willing to act as experts and will answer students' e-mail questions. Or, your students could join various lists, and pose questions, enter into discussions, and share information. Some lists are designed just for students, but they could join any list if the topic interested them. Doing a topic on Canadian history? Working on a unit on ecology? Going into a creative writing part of your course? All of this could be done in the "global classroom."

Here are a number of links which can get you started or provide more information.

Ask an Expert Sources
Connecting your students to an expert in the field is an excellent way of expanding their horizons, supplementing the curriculum with current information, and integrating Internet resources within your classroom. The sites on this CLN page are links to experts in K-12 curricular related topics.

Internet Keypal Exchanges
This CLN page provides you with links to sites promoting keypal exchanges between classes.

Internet Projects
Looking for an on-line project for your students to join? This CLN page identifies some of the organizations hosting and facilitating Internet projects.

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