A Class Act

Were you paying close attention when @tom was showing you how to add names to the Address Book and how to create Contact Groups? We sure hope so because these two features are extremely helpful if you plan to use e-mail in your classroom. Take a look at the following scenarios and you'll see what we mean:

Why is it that many educators and members of government have notoriously long, cryptic e-mail addresses? Complex e-mail addresses increase the chances of introducing a typo. And if we add to the mix some younger students with less keyboard prowess than you, we have a recipe for lots of bounced mail.

Make it easier on yourself, and your students, by creating simple Address Book names to replace those long, difficult e-mail addresses. For example, instead of the e-mail address shown above, create an Address Book entry called Mr. Roeleveld or School Librarian. When your students send a message to Mr. Roeleveld, they can just type his name in the To: box.

Are you worried that your students won't be able to spell certain names? The beauty of creating Address Book entries is that you only need to enter the first few letters of a name. Say for instance, your students type ROE in the To: box. Outlook Express will look for a match in the Address Book and try to complete the rest of the name.

ssmith@myclass.edu; rryan@myclass.edu; tthomas@myclass.edu...
One way to e-mail a group of people -- say, all the students in your English class -- is by separating each e-mail address with a semi-colon. This can be quite tedious to type and can lead to quite an extended To: box if you have 25 or so students in your class. Consider creating a Contact Group that includes all of the members of the class. A simple English 8 is a lot easier to type.

Similar Contact Groups will make it easier to keep in touch with members of the parents committee or perhaps the teachers' association. Just one word of advice. Keep the e-mail addresses in your Contact Groups up to date. If someone leaves the parent committee, remove their address from the PTA contact group immediately. Nothing is worse than sending inside information to someone who is no longer involved with an organization.

Group 1, Group 2, Group 3...
Your students can also put Contact Groups into good use. Say for instance, you have divided your class into groups of five to work on a Socials Studies presentation. The kids all have their own e-mail addresses and want to use the Internet for research and to communicate with one another. You can show your students how to create Contact Groups that contain only the five members of their groups.

If you plan to replicate the same Contact Groups in your own e-mail program, you may want to assign names to the groups rather than leaving it up to your students. After all, Team Pacific and Team Atlantic are probably easier to remember than Spice Girls or The Tragically Hip.