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STANFORD UNIVERSITY

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY SERVICES

IT Services Course Support

Discussion Groups

When you register a course for IT Services Course Support, you can request a Stanford-only Usenet newsgroup (or multiple newsgroups, if you prefer) named for your class (i.e., su.class.yourclass). The newsgroup is well-suited for online discussion and student participation, particulary because newsgroup posts are available — and relatively easy to access — for the entire quarter. Note that Stanford-only newsgroups are available to all Stanford affiliates and therefore are not suitable for private or restricted-access information.

For more information about how to read and post to your newsgroup, including links to Stanford-provided tools and detailed instructions, see IT Services’ Usenet Newsgroups service page.

What happens to the newsgroup content when the course is over?

To have all newsgroup posts archived at the end of the quarter, email a request to courses@stanford.edu.

Is the class newsgroup the best tool available for online discussions?

Not necessarily. Class newsgroups provided by IT Services don’t offer the same integrated collaboration support as the CourseWork course management system provided by Stanford’s Academic Computing organization. CourseForum includes private forums and forums for specified user groups — and its search feature allows instructors to find student-specific postings that can then be printed for grading.

The following table compares the main features and characteristics of IT Services’ newsgroup offering with those of the CourseWork course management system.

  Stanford-only Class Newsgroup CourseForum
Message retrieval Students must check newsgroup for new postings. Students must check CourseForum for new postings. It is possible to set up email notification of replies to one’s topics.
Offline access Yes. No.
Software required Newsgroup reader such as those included with Netscape or Internet Explorer. Web browsers such as Netscape or Internet Explorer.
Visibility Public to everyone in the Stanford community. If an instructor requests a CourseForum with a CourseWork course then anyone with access to that CourseWork course can access CourseForum.
Attachments Yes. Yes.
Threading Yes. Yes.
Instructor controls topic structure No. Yes, it is possible for instructors to lock a topic.
Announcements No. Yes, admins and moderators can post topics as announcements that users can see when they enter a forum.
Multiple discussion folders Yes, if you request multiple newsgroups. Yes.
Last modified Tuesday, 12-Sep-2006 02:50:08 PM

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