03 October 2008

Spamming my students with "BOB"

A teacher asked about spamming my students, "How much time do you estimate it takes to compose and send out a message?"

I use an Excel file and a Visual Basic program I wrote called "BOB". On one Excel sheet I keep the student names, Email addresses and some other information. On the other sheet I keep the "content" for the messages like message subject and message body.

Most of my BOB messages were taken from Emails I have sent to other groups of students in times past. Indeed, some students may be receiving a message I sent them years ago but probably forgot. So in this case composing a message is very fast. But since all of the messages are short, even if I write a new one it is also very fast.


Keep in mind, each of these messages is stored in the Excel file and is reused. So once you write it, it gets used many times. The BOB program reads the student name, Email address and what message the student is on. For example:

John; john_zhou@yahoo.com; 27

Then the program will check on the content sheet and find message #27 which has a subject line for message #27 and body for #27.

BOB then creates the Email, first with the subject line and the body which begins with "Dear John," followed by my message. It ends with my signature name and my links like a regular message does.

Recently, I added a place for another line at the end of the message that I can customize. If it is a holiday time, I can send them holiday greetings. If I want to remind all of the students from one class about a homework assignment, I can do it there. If I found a new coffee shop to have my one-on-one class with a manager, I can mention it there.

It takes BOB about 3-4 seconds to make each message. After BOB is done making messages for all the students, it takes Outlook about 2 seconds to send each one out.


Teachers have a wealth of knowledge on teaching that can benefit students. The beauty of this system is that it gets maximum use out of the teachers' resource of ideas, tips and pointers. The BOB system starts all students on message #1 and then works the student, message by message, through all of the teachers ideas and tips. Every student will receive every tip from the teacher. They will miss nothing. They will receive it in measured spoonfuls every couple days.

If any teachers would like a copy of the BOB spamming program please let me know and I'll send it to you. I'll let you have about 60 of my messages that I send out. It works only with Excel and Outlook. (It may not work with Outlook Express.)

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