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Webheads in Action:
Community formation online and its role in language learning

Gallery | URLs and YahooGroups | Community members | Syllabus | Online Schedule Archive| Cybertours

Week 1 - Jan 25-Jan 31

Overview and organization of the course

You should already have sent your community profile details to be added to the Webheads in Action Community Page

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  1. Use of Yahoo Groups in the model Webheads courses
  2. Setting up and managing your Yahoo Group for evonline2002_webheads
  3. The tools we find useful for synchronous communications, listed at:
1 Use of Yahoo Groups in the model Webheads courses

Anyone can start a YahooGroup. Just visit and start one.

Warning: Yahoo is a commercial enterprise and might conceivably subject you to marketing schemes via email. You might want to be aware that you can adjust your preferences to combat this. To change your settings, go to, sign in as usual, click Account Info at the very top righthand side of the screen, then find 'Edit Marketing Preferences' and click there.

What are some of the advantages to using YahooGroups?

Can you think of ways you might use YahooGroups to

Hi everybody, Yahoogroups are like virtual classes; what matters is students learning, in my case English as a Foreign Language. In order to get that objective, teachers could discuss the type of activities to post in Yahoo. Teachers could virtualy meet and prepare classes, exercises and tests. Students could share their learning experiences. That is to say, their metacognition about their own learning processes could be expressed in their chats, therefore they enrich one another. Yahoogroups could be used to exchange information with native speakers while they chat, and by establishing a friendly relationship, non-native speakers could become more confident in what they are learning as their emotional intelligence decreases.

James Farmer responds:

Well, Yes!!! Down here in Melbourne, Australia, we're lucky enough to be teaching courses to hugely mixed groups of International students, over 95% of who have e-mail addresses and use them everyday. Thus, Yahoo! groups is perfect! Over the last year we've started using it extensively with classes and teachers, I'll just be brief here, but I can upload some lesson plans to the docs section if anyone wants.

Uses of Yahoo Groups:

With your colleagues, I'd try to get them involved in some sort of teacher development. Basically, you create a group, directly subscribe all of them (in reality to get as big an audience & participation as possible - you tell them it's to save them time etc.) and start posting and inviting people to post on topical issues of the day. For example, we're currently undergoing real change in terms of how we assess our students and this has brought up some great debates on the group. One thing I would say, is thatyou might find it good to 'exclude' hirers/firers from the group or it can get a bit messy. Check out by Paul Davis (personal hero of mine) in Rinvolucri's 'Humanising Language Teaching' (http://www, for thoughts on this.

I've also run sessions where staff have created picture galleries in the 'photos' section, used the group to discuss & then poll on staff events and just brainstormed the possibilities this offers. A couple of key points I think are

  1. Don't bother doing something online which can just as easily be done in a textbook. People put thousands of hours into making delightful websites which are exactly the same as a book and a tape (and considerably less portable and usable!) Use these tools for the uniques benefits they offer i.e. asynchronous discussion, hyperlinks, online group formation & dynamics
  2. Don't do PD in which people sign-up to Yahoo! It takes forever and has FAR too many complications... the session just collapses. Instead get people to sign up before (offer help if needed).

Hope some of the above is useful. If anyone's looking for a great example of effective online groups check out or indeed, observe what's happening here! Good one Vance!


James Farmer Downunder

Nigel responds:

Hi, folks. I'm using Blackboard both as a student and a teacher, and I use Yahoo both as a member of this group and as a manager of a couple of listservs. Here are my random (and late-night!) thoughts about the two:


BLACKBOARD (for more about Blackboard, see Week 5)

Basically, if you're trying to teach, I think BB is safer, despite its many faults. Yahoo is not designed for that sort of thing, and although it has lots of great features, I'd be very cautious about applying it outside it's fairly limited domain. It works well enough for this workshop, but I personally don't find it reliable enough to use as a teaching tool.

I'm not trying to advertise BB - it drives me crazy sometimes. I'd like something with the simplicity of Yahoo and the functionality of BB. Wishful thinking of course. But just for once it would be nice if technology actually made things easier ... Sorry, folks, but I'm a computer literate technophobe. We're going to have fun on this list!

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2 Setting up and managing your Yahoo Group accounts

How to manipulate your YahooGroup subscriptions and unsubscriptions by email

One advantage to using Yahoo Groups is that you can manage many aspects of your subscription yourself. For example:

Suppose you want to UNsubscribe your old email address. To do that she has gain access to that email account and FROM that account, send the following blank email (blank email means no subject or message, and if there is a subject or message it will be ignored).

Then you gain access to the email account you want to subscribe, and FROM that account, sends the following blank message:

How to manipulate your YahooGroup parameters on the YahooGroups website

There is one member of our list who is subscribed at two different addresses. In this way, he can send messages to the list from either of those addresses (you can only post to our list from an address you have subscribed). But I'll bet this member doesn't want to receive duplicate emails at both those addresses. He's gone to the YahooGroups website and set one of those addresses to No Mail. There's also an option there to set the delivery of email to Daily Digest.

Now here's a Voluntary Assignment for Extra Credit, in case anyone would like to start contributing to our community now. Go to the Yahoo Groups site and figure out how to change the parameters on your email (No Mail, Daily Digest, Individual Emails) and then write the list explaining how. I'll put your instructions here ...

Here's what I learned about changing E-mail parameters in Yahoo groups:
- Go to the groups home page:
- Click on "My Groups"
- Once on the "My Groups" page, click on "Edit my Groups"

There you will find all the groups you belong to, and different options for the reception of E.mails.
Good Luck
Dafne Gonzalez 17 Jan 2002

Having any trouble with that? Read on (Vance) ...

Keiko-Sensei's has prepared a handbook for using YahooGroups at

If you already have one, start here <-- First, do you already have a Yahoo ID? --> If not a Yahoo member, start here

Here are Keiko's instructions for getting a Yahoo profile associated with the EVOnline2002_webheads group
(It is assumed you have joined this group, Step 1 above):

Browse to If you don't have a Yahoo Id, start with the next step. <If you already have one, start here -->

You should now be on the evonline2002_webheads group page at Again, assuming you are already a group member, click on "Already a member? Sign in to Yahoo!" <If not a Yahoo member, start here -->

Individual emails, digest, or no mail?

YahooGroups will spit out a new digest every 25 messages or one day, whichever comes first. I don't recall you can configure that number. Pete is right about some advantage on receiving individual messages even on a busy list. I have suggested to make a filter. You can change senseiOnline to evonline2002_webheads.

Now, in case you want to have no mail, or in case you're not getting the mail, or in case you're traveling and want to check the group mail from any-old-cybercafe, there's a way to do that.

First you have to have a Yahoo ID and have that ID associated with the email address you're using to receive your evonline2002_webheads email. You'll know you've done that if you visit this site and all the options in the list down the left hand side are blue, linked, and clickable. If this is not the case for you, start here.

If at this url all the links are clickable, click on the one that says Messages. You should be able to read the latest mail right there, at your convenience.

Now it's time for one of those voluntary assignments:

YahooGroups features:

Dafne's comments: I think that each of the features can be used like this for language learning:

Home : Here you can post the objective of the group, and some simple instructions of what Students or other colleagues can do to contribute with the group.

Messages : To keep group members in touch. Send comments, discuss ideas, etc.

Post : to send personal messages to individual members or to the group

Chat : teachers can chat with students individually or in groups. Students can also meet to talk about their work. This feature is very important if working with cooperative group tasks.

Files : In this place teachers can place documents for students to read and discuss, and Students can file their work for teachers to read, and for peers to edit. I would like to share with you what I discovered (trial and error, and some help from Vance) about creating folders and files in our yahoo group page:

The same procedure is used to create bookmarks and their corresponding folders.

Photos : Having pictures of the students and teachers is a nice way to contribute to the community feeling. Students and teachers can also post pictures related to subject matter. (Since this was posted, Dafne has discovered you can create Yahoo cards with pictures in the photos area :-)

Bookmarks : Links to pages that might be of interest to students: journals, dictionaries, Students and teachers web pages, etc.

Database : I think that students records might be kept in this place.

Polls: Teachers can use this space to get feedback about the course, or even for MCH quizzes On aspects related to subject matter.

Members : Teachers and students have a list of members to get in touch with each other, just like a telephone book.

Calendar : Everybody has access to events related to the group. If the group members have Their own yahoo page, it can be set to get the messages and calendar events there, and to the Yahoo E-m account.

I think all of these features are great tools to promote what language learning is mostly about: interaction with authentic audiences. It seems also a good way to establish contact with colleagues for research projects, for writing articles, for professional development, etc. Especially when one is, like in my case, far away from the work place. I am sure that once I get to use it, I will find more uses and I will be aware of the problemes involved

Cheers, Dafne

KeikoS: Just noticed that nobody has mentioned Yahoo Education. It is very much like YahooGroups, but it has a friendly structure for offering class online.

VanceS: o 0 O (wonders if this is the same as

I decided to check it out and teleported there. Both URLs refer to the same site. You are offered a virtual tour to see what it is like, and to get a description of the different features it offers. But I was not satisfied with the tour, because it consists of still frames. So, I created a course (3 steps) to be able to explore its features. This is what I learned:

It is very similar to Yahoo Groups, but it includes:

  1. A place to insert the "Syllabus" which can be downloaded or created there, with the help of a step-by-step guide, which can be modified to suit the users’ needs.
  2. A place for the "Rooster"
  3. A space for "Handouts", which serves the same purposes of the Y.G. "Files" feature.
  4. A place called "Submissions", where students can deposit their assignments to be picked up by the instructor.

As opposed to Yahoo Groups, it does not include the chat, the photos, and the database features, which I consider a minus. It retains all the other features we haven experienced in our Yahoo Group page.

It is another possibility to consider. Courses can be easily deleted in case you are just experimenting. I decided to keep mine there to try it with my students next term.

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3 The tools we find useful for synchronous communications


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Last updated: June 13, 2002 in Hot Metal Pro 6.0