When you register a course for University IT 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, particularly 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is the class newsgroup the best tool available for online discussions?
Not necessarily. Class newsgroups provided by University IT 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 University IT’s 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.|
|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.|
|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.|