E-Mail Distribution Lists in Adult Learning: A Historical Perspective

E-Mail Distribution Lists in Adult Learning: A Historical Perspective

Mauri Collins (University of Nevada, Las Vegas, USA) and Zane Berge (University of Maryland, Baltimore County, USA)
Copyright: © 2008 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-863-5.ch049
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Abstract

Online, e-mail-based discussion groups are contemporary examples of an historical tradition of voluntary, informal, learning groups used by adults for topical discussion, fellowship, and learning. Because the discussion among group members takes the form of e-mail exchanges, they are also been likened to historical correspondence networks. This chapter sets the historical context of the e-mail-based discussion groups that preceded the extensive use of bulletin-board style discussion forums in contemporary learning management systems.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Listserv: This term is often used as a generic term for all e-mail distribution programs, and also as a generic adjective to describe all online discussion groups (a listserv group) or just as a generic noun “a listserv.”

LISTSERV®: The registered trademark of www.l-soft.com and its founder, Eric Thomas (Thomas, 1996), and is the name of a specific e-mail list handling software program. Similar programs include Majordomo, listproc, MailMan, and so forth.

Computer Conference: The term refers to asynchronous message storage and related retrieval software located on a central server. Messages are posted and stored there and made accessible by browser or client program. The software may allow for branching and threading of messages and the sorting of messages by category (date, author, subject, etc.), and may also include a facility for synchronous communication (CHAT).

Scholarly Discussion Groups: That subset of online discussion groups that have a scholarly focus and a high proportion of their participants are involved in primary, secondary, or tertiary education. These discuss scholarly topics, but are not part of academic courses.

Computer Mediated Communication (CMC): Following Santoro (1998, pp. 33-34) there are three categories of computer mediated communication. The first, computer conferencing, “involves direct human to human communication with the computer being used as a communications router.” The second is informatics where “the computer serves as a repository of information that originates with human contributors and is utilized by human retrievers.” The third category is computer-assisted instruction where the computer “structures and manages both the presentation of information and the possible choices available to the human user.”

Lurker, Lurking: Lurker is an Internet pejorative term for an online discussion group member who “lurks” that is, receives and reads postings to a list, but rarely or never contributes to the discussion (Grint, 1992; Marvin, 1995). Another perspective is to consider the noncontributing members of an online discussion group as an “audience,” engaged in behavior similar to listening to a face-to-face panel discussion.

Academic Discussion Groups: These are online discussion groups that are associated with academic courses and are usually instructor led and of limited (one course/semester/quarter) duration. Participation is often required or graded.

Lurker, Lurking: Lurker is an Internet pejorative term for an online discussion group member who “lurks” that is, receives and reads postings to a list, but rarely or never contributes to the discussion (Grint, 1992; Marvin, 1995). Another perspective is to consider the noncontributing members of an online discussion group as an “audience,” engaged in behavior similar to listening to a face-to-face panel discussion.

Listserv: This term is often used as a generic term for all e-mail distribution programs, and also as a generic adjective to describe all online discussion groups (a listserv group) or just as a generic noun “a listserv.”

Public Online Discussion Groups: These are online discussion groups not associated with academic courses. Membership and participation is voluntary and open to all and discussion is usually related to a particular topic, or group of topics.

Scholarly Discussion Groups: That subset of online discussion groups that have a scholarly focus and a high proportion of their participants are involved in primary, secondary, or tertiary education. These discuss scholarly topics, but are not part of academic courses.

LISTSERV®: The registered trademark of www.l-soft.com and its founder, Eric Thomas (Thomas, 1996), and is the name of a specific e-mail list handling software program. Similar programs include Majordomo, listproc, MailMan, and so forth.

Computer Conferencing: A generic term used to refer to the use of a computer as a communications device in interaction with other persons; the activity of online discussion, in all of its forms.

Computer Conference: The term refers to asynchronous message storage and related retrieval software located on a central server. Messages are posted and stored there and made accessible by browser or client program. The software may allow for branching and threading of messages and the sorting of messages by category (date, author, subject, etc.), and may also include a facility for synchronous communication (CHAT).

Computer Conferencing: A generic term used to refer to the use of a computer as a communications device in interaction with other persons; the activity of online discussion, in all of its forms.

Public Online Discussion Groups: These are online discussion groups not associated with academic courses. Membership and participation is voluntary and open to all and discussion is usually related to a particular topic, or group of topics.

Computer Mediated Communication (CMC): Following Santoro (1998, pp. 33-34) there are three categories of computer mediated communication. The first, computer conferencing, “involves direct human to human communication with the computer being used as a communications router.” The second is informatics where “the computer serves as a repository of information that originates with human contributors and is utilized by human retrievers.” The third category is computer-assisted instruction where the computer “structures and manages both the presentation of information and the possible choices available to the human user.”

Academic Discussion Groups: These are online discussion groups that are associated with academic courses and are usually instructor led and of limited (one course/semester/quarter) duration. Participation is often required or graded.

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