Integrating virtual communities
into the language class
Pre-Conference Institute #9
March 8, 1999

Lonnie Turbee Greg Younger
Lonnie Turbee LLC Economics Institute


Virtual communities

Using the web board during this PCI

Setting up asynchronous communication forums

Visiting synchronous communication sites

  1. Virtual communities

    1. Hot off the web! Conference taking place right now! [er.. back in March, 1999]
      At the University of South Florida:  Creating and Sustaining Learning Communities:  Connections, Collaboration, and Crossing Borders

      One Pre-Conference Institute:
      Instructional Technology: "Virtual Communities Are Real Communities"
       Eric Crump
        ".....We will sample the fare of several existing online communities to get a feel for how they work, and we'll experiment with forming a community online, on-the-fly, and on the spot!"

      And that is what we will be doing today, too!

      Vocabulary lesson: clients and servers

      1. Internet does not equal Web
        Client program: sits on your computer, e.g. Eudora, Netscape, Telnet, Pueblo
        Server: computer that holds programs or information you may access, e.g. web servers, MOO servers like
        Download: use a client to get something from a server and put it on your computer


    1. Listservs, aka email discussion groups

      1. What they are, what they’re like to use and set up.
        1. What they are:
          1. listserv, listproc, majordomo, and others are software packages that redistribute email from a central address to subscribers.
        2. Using them: Listserv address vs. List address
        Send a COMMAND 
        to the listserv address:


        SUB LING-L Greg Younger

        Send a MESSAGE 
        to the list itself:

        Subject:  Re: tech plans 

        I agree completely; you're absolutely right!

        1. Setting them up: usually done through the IT department of your institution, though there are free resources on the web.  See section II. B. below.


      2. Listserv pedagogy
        1. Use lists yourself: lists for personal and professional reasons, and the same lists your students will use. Be actively involved with their virtual community without taking over communication in it.
        2. Work into email gradually: be sure they understand the list(s) they’re using.
        3. Teach good email use: subject heading, short paragraphs, reference to another message, greetings and closings, ask a question.
        4. Integrate a list into the course: make it the interactive component.
            • Require students to reply to at least one posting on a regular basis.
            • Use what they see on the list as a basis for in-class activities.
            • Have them find, maintain, and report on pen pal communications that are initiated via a list.
            • Require them to get involved with at least one discussion, report on the experience.
        5. See: International Student Discussion Lists (SL-LISTS): Guidelines for Teachers



    1. Web boards
      1. Example of an active ESL-related web board: IBET workshop from last fall's TESOL Online Workshops.  More information on Thursday, 2:00-3:45: Event#: 5810: TESOL Online Workshops at the Hilton, Sutton North.

      3. Web board pedagogy and pitfalls
        1. Pitfalls: confusion, inappropriate behavior, lack of sound pedagogy, apathy, the controlling teacher.
        2. Give them enough time to practice. Pair the techno-shy or less savvy ones with the ones who are already comfortable with it.
        3. Behavior:  their own, and handling others'.
        4. It’s just a tool, not a method! You still have to consider objectives, method, assessment.  See Rick Ells’ pages: "Teachnology and Webagogy" and Putting Pedagogy Before Technology.
        5. Teacher participation is crucial, especially at initial stages but throughout as well.
        6. Motivation and ownership: involve them in planning web board use, send  email reminders to participate.
        7. Participation:  Require productive participation but remember that reading ("lurking") is participating, too.


    1. MOOs

      1. MOO is a Multiple-user dungeon, Object-Oriented. … Yeah, right!
      2. MOO for English language learning: schMOOze University: ,
        1. History
        2. Who's there?
        3. How is schMOOze different?
      3. MOO for ESL/EFL teachers: schMOOze University!
      4. MOO language learning pedagogy
        1. MOOs are social environments
        2. The role of role-playing: anonymity + optimal stress levels = motivation
        3. The communicative approach in MOO
            • teacher as facilitator, power disbursed away from teacher
            • negotiation for meaning, for authentic purposes in a social setting
            • collaborative learning and peer interaction
            • access to authentic language
            • learning in an immersion context
        4. Integration into the curriculum
            • contexts built around classroom themes, real-life or fanciful
            • student control of skill-using time
            • inclusion of MOO experiences in classroom activities
        5. Further discussion of MOO pedagogy: Thursday, 10:30-11:15:  Event #3048: Language learning MOO theory and practical application at the Hilton, Beekman Parlor

    1. Searching for virtual communities

      1. Finding listservs: , other search engines:
      2. Attendees do search using these keywords: ESL, TESOL, TESL, EFL etc. Attendees browse through categories in
      3. Doing Internet searches:
      4. Look at the SL-lists:
      5. NETEACH-L, list for Net-using ESL/EFL teachers


  1. Using the web board during this PCI

    1. Demonstration: how to use the web board

      1. Go to the web board at: (no longer exists)
      2. Read question heading, click to read full posting.
        1. Post a NEW discussion question: fill out the form on the front page.
        2. Respond to the current question:  click, read, post followup on that page
        3. Respond to a response (threading): read response, post followup on that page

    3. Practice answering Greg’s and each other’s questions

    5. Discuss use of web board via the web board. (no longer exists)
  1. TOP
  2. Setting up asynchronous communication forums

    1. How to set up a distribution list
      1. Use the "groups" or "lists" setting in your email program's addressbook
        1. Netscape: in addressbook, choose "New List;" drag names from main list into the new list's folder.
        2. Pine: in addressbook, hit A (to add), insert addresses separated by commas.

    1. How to set up a listserv

      1. How it's done at CU:
      2. At Syracuse University: send email to LISTMGR@MAILBOX.SYR.EDU 
        Tell them who you are, your title (i.e. PTI, TA), your department, and what class(es) or academic purpose it's for. They will send you full instructions in return.
      3. RTFM: (Read The Fabulous Manual!)  :o)
        1. EXCELLENT Listserv manual (with all sorts of strategies, guidelines, etc. for list managers in addition to listserv commands) at
        2. Listproc manual at
        3. Majordomo manual at
      4. Go to: , ,

    3. How to set up your own web board

      1. Build your own if you know how to program or adapt CGI scripts in PERL or javascript. Check out The CGI Resource Index at (or search using your new searching expertise!)
      2. Get a geek friend who knows how to program or adapt CGI scripts (our preferred method).
      3. Use free webboard service (too many ads!) (free but slow)

    5. How to create your own MOO (er… don’t.  Just use an existing one)
      1. schMOOze University
      2. Diversity University
      3. MundoHispano
      4. MOOfrancais
      5. WorldMOO (you can access the MOOring from here to find other MOOs)
      6. Moosaico



  4. Visiting synchronous communication sites

    1. schMOOze University
      1. Do this alone or in pairs
      2. Set up the Pueblo client
        • Edit your personal list
        • Name:  schMOOze University
        • Host:
        • Type:  MOO
        • Port:  8888
        • Leave the rest blank.
        • Login style:  send the username then the password
      3. Log on as guests, use the following commands:
        • connect guest
        • @who
        • say (or " )
        • look
        • look <object>
        • <exitname>
        • page
        • knock <name>, invite <name>, @join <name>
      4. Take a look at MOO logs from NETEACH moo sessions to see what conversation among your online colleagues can look like.
    1. PuebloLindo: the future of language learning communities

      1. Click on PuebloLindo link on main page of Pueblo client.
      2. For further information on this multi-media language learning environment, see:

    3. NetMeeting: demonstration from main computer

    5. Questions, questionable answers, discussion, closing



Links you'll like! Recent additions to this page:

Educational uses for Virtual Realities: links to files, links to over 60 EdMOOs MUSHes MUDs, and basic, getting-started info

"How to Run a Good On Line Service" for listowners and MOO Wizards

Last updated 04/02/02
Greg Younger
Lonnie Turbee