Every so often, almost as penance, I conduct hands on sessions where I lead novice teachers through setting up a blog and/or wiki. Without fail, the biggest problem that holds the process up, (apart from the various portals having technical issues or undertaking an upgrade), surrounds teachers not being able to access their email from the shared machine they are using. This is sometimes due to issues of accessing school or system based email accounts via the web from public computers, (interesting that some educational instutions want to restrict even staff members access to email). More embarassing though is the situation where the particpants can’t remember their login details or passwords because they rely on their personal computer to remember and enter these details for them.
In the past I have used dummy gmail accounts and other workarounds to short circuit these problems so that the participants can get a blog to work with but just the other day I was acquainted with another email service, mintemail, that may provide another option for my problem. Basically mintemail is an instant short term mailbox that can exist and be used for between 4 hours and 3 months before it disappears. Mintemail will also automatically verify your details for a range of websites and you can enable email forwarding to any other permanent email account you wish to. Hopefully next time I am running a workshop session then I will not have the problem of assisting participants who can’t get past the big first step of subscribing whilst the rest of the room is champing at the bit to get posting.
It strikes me that mintemail might also be a viable alternative when enrolling students to online portals and services, especially if teachers want to take advantage of the forwarding option.