If you recall from Getting acquainted with the tools, electronic discussion groups are Internet fora where people with similar interests participate in an on-going dialogue about topics and concerns germane to the focus of the list. Your assignment here is twofold. In essence you will join an electronic discussion list (I have one in mind, of course) and follow one particular thread for several days. In essence, you will be a "lurker" (remember? a lurker is someone who is subscribed but does not generally participate in the list discussion, at least on-line). You may participate if you wish, but it is always wise to observe for a short while before entering the discussion fray. The list I have in mind is FLTEACH, the Foreign Language Teaching Forum. It is a rather large and active list for FL professionals, and it is dedicated to the improvement of FL instruction and learning at all institutional and instructional levels. (It also happens to be the list I co-moderate with Robert Ponterio, so I know where I'm sending you.)
1. First, you need to subscribe. To do this, you will need to use e-mail, but you are an old pro at that, so it should present no problem. To subscribe, send an e-mail message to the address as follows:
and put nothing in the subject line. In the body of the message, write:
SUBSCRIBE FLTEACH FIRSTNAME LASTNAME
(be sure and put in YOUR first and last name and not the words "firstname" and "lastname").
2. Then send this message, without anything else in the message field and without appending a signature file. You will shortly receive a confirmation message that will ask you to respond, thus making a complete circuit between your computer account and the FLTEACH account at Buffalo.
3. Once this connection is established, you will receive a Welcome message. This message is very important, and you need to keep it. I suggest putting it in a file in your e-mail account or on your computer. The Welcome message will give you all sorts of useful information about how to send and receive FLTEACH messages, netiquette, appropriate postings, and other valuable data including how to unsubscribe from the list. Pay particular attention to the mail options and set them according to your own situation. You will need to consider the size of your e-mail account and the frequency with which you access your mail. FLTEACH often generates up to 100 messages a day, so if you do not read them with regularity, your mailbox can fill up, resulting in all mail being bounced from your account. In addition, the FLTEACH bounces return to the moderators' account, and that makes us ve-r-r-r-r-r-r-ry unhappy. We eventually set your account to NOMAIL or you get deleted; either way, you can't complete your assignment. Hence the need to consider carefully your mail settings from the beginning.
1. Now that you are subscribed to FLTEACH, you need to follow a thread or topic for several days. Please identify a topic that is of interest to you, reading and saving all of the corresponding messages. They will most likely all contain the same or similar subject header information; e.g., "Block scheduling" and then "RE: Block Scheduling." In fact, if your e-mail system allows, you can sort your messages by keyword and isolate the messages that way.
2. After following a thread for a week , summarize the salient points and present them to your foreign language methods class. Decide where you stand in the issue as well and include a statement to that effect.
3. Make a printout of the messages you have collected on the topic and present this along with your summary and position statement to your instructor.