What Are Newsgroups
Newsgroups (also called Usenet), work something like SOFWeb's electronic discussion lists, but rather than the discussions being hosted on SOFWeb, they are held on your Internet Service Provider's server. Most newsgroups are open to anyone to read or post to, and unlike e-mail discussion lists, or SOFWeb's discussion lists, you don't need to register to use them. In order to read them you will need news reader software, such as the one provided with Netscape Navigator. To be able to access the newsgroups you will need to ask your ISP for the correct information.
There are thousands and thousands of news groups, covering an enormous range of subjects. Just about any topic you can think of probably has a news group dedicated to it, so they can be a terrific way of accessing expert knowledge in a wide variety of areas. Some news groups are moderated, which means that each message must be approved by the moderator before it can be posted to the group, but most news groups are
un-moderated. Some of the more popular news groups have a daily readership of tens of thousands of people from all over the world, so as you can imagine, the content reflects this enormous diversity of opinion and knowledge of netiquette!
Because the news groups are publicly accessible, the discussions can be much less controlled than either SOFWeb's discussions or e-mail lists, and, in all cases, should be carefully monitored by teachers if they choose to allow students access to them. They are probably most appropriate for older students. Careful attention to
netiquette will allow students to use news groups appropriately. It is likely that your ISP will block access to the more offensive news groups, and you should check this with your provider to make sure.
However, there are news groups which are safe and appropriate for students to use. These are the news groups set up to support the I*EARN projects. You will need to be a member of I*EARN to access these news groups. iearn.youth is a news groups set up especially as a meeting place for students and young people, but in order for students to make the best use of it, teachers will still need to ensure that there are clear expectations of appropriate
State of Victoria (Department of Education, Employment & Training)
Initiative of the SOFWeb Project
Last Updated: August 11, 2000