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Make the most of e-mail

If all your students have easy access to an e-mail address, either at home or school, then you may want to use it to communicate with them. Before you begin, it's worth setting up some rules in your e-mail program. These examples are for Microsoft Outlook Express 5.

* One of the first things to do is to set up a mailing group that contains your students' e-mail addresses. This will allow you to type one message, which you can then send to all the class. Mailing groups are set up in your address book. Open your address book, click on New, then New Group. Type in the name of your group, then each person's name and e-mail address in the lower half of the properties dialog box, clicking add after each one. If you already have students' e-mail addresses in your address book, then click on select members and then click the relevant names from your address book list. To send a message to your group, simply type the group name in the To box and carry on as normal.

* You will also want to pick out replies easily from all the other mail you receive. You can do this by setting up a rule in your e-mail program that will group incoming messages by topic or conversation. Open your inbox, click the View Menu, point to Current View and then Select Group Messages by Conversation. This will group incoming mail that is replying to your message so you can see at a glance ho has responded and who has not. To display your original message and all replies to it, click the plus sign (+) to the left of the original message.

If you receive plenty of incoming mail, then you may want students' messages to be received automatically into a folder rather than your inbox. You can set up a rule in Outlook Express to do just this.

There are also rules for automatically replying to or forwarding certain messages. Open the Tools menu, point to Message Rules and then click Mail. On the Mail Rules tab, click New. The Conditions section lets you check or uncheck boxes to set up whatever combination of rules you want. You must select at least one condition and use the And function under Rule Description to specify whether all of the rule conditions must be met before the specified action occurs (and) or whether at least one must be met (or). For each rule, enter a name in the Name of the rule box and click OK.

* To avoid big graphics files from your students clogging your inbox, go back to Tools, Message Rules and then Mail. In Select the Conditions for your Rule, click the down arrow and select "Where the message size is more than size". In section 2, select "Do not download it from server". In section 3, specify a maximum size, say 1,024Kb (that's 1Mb). Return to the New Mail Rule, give your message a name and click OK.

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