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Creating Learning Networks for African Teachers

UNESCO PROJECT (Contract No. 408.302.9)

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1. What is a listserv or mailing list?

A listserv or mailing list is a list of e-mail addresses, to which message can be sent in a bulk-mailing fashion. A listserv is an online and extended conference where people of common interest (community of Interest) can discuss current issues of their areas of interest with large numbers of fellow members of the "Community of Interest".

A mailing list is a directory (list) of email addresses maintained by a computer.

To add your email address to the directory you must join (subscribe to) the list.

2. Subscribing to a mailing list

To join a mailing list, you need to know:
(i)    the name of the list (listname).
(ii)    the email address of the computer that maintains the list.

In most cases,simply address an e-mail message to the computer that maintains the list and type in the body.

subscribe <listname> <your first & last name>

After a moment, you will receive an automatic e-mail message from the computer welcoming you to the list and explaining how to complete your subscription and explaining some of the guidelines for participating in the discussion.


3. How a listserv or mailing list works

When any subscribed member sends an email to the list, it is automatically distributed to the entire list of subscribers.
Those members who want to respond can reply to the email and the rest of the members can just "listen" i.e. without responding.

Any member of the list can send announcements, solicit help, give help, report successes, open discussions etc.

To send an email to the list, use the address of the list.

Note: The address of the list (used to send a message to other members) is different from that of the computer which maintains the list (used to subscribe to the list).

4. Educators and mailing lists

  • Teachers can set up mailing lists for their classes. Such lists can be used for class discussions & assignments. Any student can ask help from classmates.

  • Teachers/ Students can participate in discussions/debates with their colleagues /peers worldwide. They can ask for help from other members of their "community of interest". This greatly expands the human resources available to them.

5. Finding Mailing Lists or Listserv

(i)    By "word of month".
e.g. The mailing list for Uganda schools on the net is

To subscribe, send a request email to the list moderator
To send a message to the list, use

(ii)    Using other mailing lists:

An excellent way to learn about mailing lists is through other mailing lists.

Example: A mailing list called Net-happenings.

To subscribe, send an email
    Body:   subscribe net-happenings <your first & last names>

e.g. If your name is John Okello.
       Screen shot
       Body:  subscribe net-happenings John Okello

(iii)    Using searchable databases of mailing lists e.g. (

Search by word e.g. Technology

(iv)    Using Search Engine:


CataList Reference Site by L-soft International describes over 42,000 public lists.

Publicly Accessible Mailing List Page

Mailing list Netiquette (DOs and DONTs)

1. Carefully read the e-mail message that is sent to you upon joining a mailing list. It includes important information about the purpose of the list and the type of discussions that are allowed on the list. Please follow these guidelines.

2. Most people appreciate the benefit of using Internet to send valuable information to classrooms and are eager to help you. Do not hesitate to post questions for your class on a list as long as you feel it is within the guidelines of the list.

3. Whereas most people are eager to help, they are also busy. They won't appreciate receiving numerous postings that don't contribute to the lists goals or topics previously discussed.

  • Check the achieves before posting a question. Most mailing lists maintain a web site for their achieves.
  • Carefully word your question(s) so that you will get the most and best information. Make it short but precise.
  • Identify yourself (personal and/or professional) and how to contact you.
  • Promise something in return e.g. posting the results on a web site.
5. Only reply to those messages you can respond to positively otherwise only "listen" (read without responding).- see online resources.

Starting your own:

It can be a rewarding experience to assemble a community of interest.

Resources for moderators and facilitators of online discussion
Provides a very good list of materials for prospective list owners.

Educational Listservs
The primary focus of the Community Learning Network (CLN) is to help K-12 teachers integrate information technology into their classrooms.

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