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Online mailing lists growing in popularity amongst teachers

More teachers are joining online mailing lists. Using e-mail to exchange information, the lists are similar to a bulletin board in the staffroom. Anyone with access to the board can post a query or pass on information, and anyone reading messages on the board can post a reply for allto see.

Joining a list is generally free and easy, as is unsubscribing: you just follow instructions and send off a standard e-mail to the list owner. Once you join a list, you will receive in your e-mail inbox a copy of all the messages posted. Replies can generally be sent directly to the teacher posting the original message, or to the list, in which case all members receive it. Lists have guidelines as to what topics are relevant and messages are archived. Reading previous messages is the best way to decide a list's relevance to you.

The most active list in education is probably the one fr special educational needs co-ordinators, that can be found via www.becta.org.ukinclusion. From this page follow links to the Discussion Area, which features the SENCO Forum mailing list.

Joining several lists can overburden your inbox, so it is worth using the settings on your e-mail program that allow you to divert all messages from a list into a specific folder rather than to your inbox, where all your other mail arrives. Alternatively, you can block messages from named subscribers if you find a list is unnecessarily burdened by one or two members. The largest collection of education-related mailing lists is run by Mailbase at www.mailbase.ac.uk. It has almost 3,000lists with 212,434 members worldwide. Although it primarily serves higher education, searching the schools area on theMailbase homepage will provide links to manyrelevant lists.

DEBBIE DAVIES

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