CU Santa Live on the Internet
Wed, 6 Dec 1995 11:48:29 -0800 (PST)

ATTENTION All Schools Using CU-SeeMe Videoconferencing!

Santa is Coming to Town Via CU-SeeMe

Call for Collaboration:
An Exciting Invitation to Interact with Santa
* Please respond to this message by December 11, 1995

- Dennis Cowick, the original "Letters to Santa" developer, will for the
first time ever, be making a guest appearance as Santa over the Internet
via CU-SeeMe videoconferencing.

- Global SchoolNet Foundation ( will be assisting Santa
in recruiting and preparing schools for their Internet videoconferencing

Wednesday, December 13th
11:00 till 12:00 California time (6:00 PM GMT)

- Both audio and video will be sent over the Internet.

- CONNECTION: Schools must have a direct connect to the Internet (T-1 is
preferred, but 128 ISDN or a 64 KB line will probably work)

- EQUIPMENT: Schools must have a either Macintosh with AV capability or a
PC with Windows and a video board; in addition, schools will need a video
camera that is connected to the computer and can send and receive video

- SOFTWARE: Schools should download (FTP) Cornell's CU-SeeMe
videoconferencing software from; Make sure you retrieve
the appropriate application (Mac, Power Mac, or PC) and the Talk module
(Both of these files must be placed in the same folder)

- PREPARATION: Participants will be expected to review and adhere the
"Guidelines for an Effective CU-SeeMe Conference"

Schools will be expected to publish a 1-2 page summary of how
this activity enhanced the learning experience.


The "Letters to Santa Claus" activity is not a new one. Teachers and
parents have always helped children write to Santa.

This bearded, fat, jolly, red-suited folkloric old man sometimes
represents different things to different people. But coming as he does
in the dead of winter, he seems mostly to symbolize hope.

This lesson is based on the experiences of teachers who have used the
Global SchoolNet/FrEdMail teacher network for the past ten years to
transfer letters to and from Santa.

It is a lesson that is especially well-designed for the newcomer to
educational networking, yet one that more advanced teachers and
their students enjoy using every year.

The project concept is a simple one.

1) Elementary students write letters to Santa using a word processor.
2) Secondary students write back, pretending to be Santa.
3) The letters are exchanged as electronic mail (email) using
available networking resources, such as FrEdMail, Compuserve, the
Internet, AOL, Prodigy and others.

Over the past few years this project has mushroomed. Scores of
schools exchanged hundreds of letters to and from Santa.

Included in the program have been:
- bilingual
- communicatively handicapped
- deaf and hard of hearing
- Gifted
- continuation
- opportunity

In the past both Spanish and English letters were exchanged. This year
there are more than 400 schools participating in the "Letters to Santa"

To Improve Student Skills
The exercise strengthens students writing. Elementary students want
their letter to Santa to be "just right", and secondary students
feel such a high degree of responsibility to the task that they
also want their work to be their best. Students gladly write, edit,
revise and perfect their letters.

They even get quite a bit of practice reading, because they want to
read each others letters and compare the contents.

One of the most noteworthy results of this project is the
cooperative mode that the students seem automatically to slide into
so effortlessly. They want to help each other, to compare what they
have written with what others in the class have done. The desire to
cooperate is obvious, natural and strong.

In video interviews taken after they have completed the project,
students state that they feel more comfortable using the computer
keyboard and the word-processing program. They are also intrigued
and interested in learning about electronic transfer of
information. Some students become quite knowledgeable in

To Improve Teacher Skills
Much has been said regarding the unfortunate isolation facing the
teacher of today. Only truly extraordinary teachers seem to be
able to fight the impossible obstacles that prevent them from
sharing ideas with colleagues.

For many teachers, participation in this project is their first
step into an electronic network. After experiencing this project,
teachers see the possibilities; of networking with other teachers,
and hearing about new approaches to old problems.

If you are interested in interacting with Santa via CU-SeeMe, please send
a reply to:

*Include ALL of the following information:

Teacher Contact:
Full Name-


- Type of Internet connection (T-1, 128 ISDN, 64 KB)
- Type and model of the computer that will be used
for videoconferencing?

- What is the grade level of students who will participate?
- Are you CURRENTLY connected, equipped, and READY to do
CU-SeeMe videoconferencing?
- If so, when would you be available for a practice
- Have you or your students EVER participated in any
CU-SeeMe conferences?
- If yes, explain:

Other: (Please use this area to provide us with any information it would
be helpful for us to know, that we might have forgotten to ask)


* Space is limited, so please reply by December 11 to reserve your spot.
Schools can particpate even if they did not take part in the writing of
Santa letters, however, official "Santa" schools WILL be given priority.

(Content) Santa, North Pole
(Classroom Support) Yvonne Marie Andres, Global SchoolNet Foundation