Friday, 7 March 2014

Email, Spam, YouTube Subscriptions and Snopes

One of the many wonderful things about having Google Apps at our school is that our students are able to have GMail accounts. This really does enable them to have the functionality we adults enjoy with having an email, with the added bonus of learning to use it in a supportive school environment. It allows teachers to play a role in helping guide them in appropriate use.

In Grade 5, some students expressed their frustration at the many emails they were being sent by YouTube to their school accounts. Some were puzzled as to how this happened in the first place, so we set about addressing the issue.

While logged in to their school GMail account, some students had (deliberately or inadvertently) subscribed to some YouTube channels. This most likely happened at home, where other family members share the same computer. Daily notifications were coming to their Inbox, alerting them to new content.

The quickest way to solve this problem was to show students where they can manage their subscriptions, and remove subscriptions that they weren't interested in, or might distract from their learning.

We explored how to unsubscribe from other emails too, e.g. marketing or other spam emails, using the unsubscribe link at the bottom of such emails. Other options include reporting the email as spam (the exclamation point in the circle above the email), or creating a filter to delete unwanted emails.

The subject of chain-mail or stories that employ scare tactics to get users to forward the email on to others, was another topic of discussion.

Frequently, students recognise that an email might be chain-mail and untrue, although they forward it on just in case, thus perpetuating the problem. is a great website to check the validity of emails they receive. Simply type the keywords into the search box, and you will find out whether it is true or false, when it originated and how it has been spreading.

Our aim is that students learn the skills to effectively manage their school email accounts, which will help them manage any other email accounts they may have.

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