Case Studies: Technion

Technion - Israel Institute of Technology

Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, founded in 1924, is the oldest university in Israel. Approximately 800 faculty members and 1,200 employees work on Technion's campus, located on Mount Carmel in the city of Haifa. The science and engineering faculty instruct some 16,000 students yearly in addition to conducting extensive research programs.

It is not surprising that Technion, a university known for its technologically savvy staff and students, started using email lists in the mid 1980s when Eric Thomas first made LISTSERV available for public use on BITNET. Moshe Barak, Head of the User Support Group at the Taub Computer Center, Technion, realized early on that manual administration of these lists would be extremely time consuming, to the point of being unmanageable, making automating the email list management a necessity. The number of email lists has since grown to approximately 4,000 active lists per year. The list members generate 150,000 messages over the course of an average week.

"L-Soft's LISTSERV HPO product and support excel in that they deliver fast, secure, flexible and feature-rich mailing list distribution capabilities. But I am probably biased, since I have been using it since the '80s."

When Mr. Barak and his IT-team started using LISTSERV in 1986, the concept of email lists was still emerging. There was no doubt that email lists were a fast and easy way of communicating, but as the number of list members grew, the need for sophisticated list administration functions increased. Over the years new versions of LISTSERV were developed, and Technion eventually installed LISTSERV HPO (High Performance Option). This software turned out to be the ultimate solution for scalable and effective list management, especially suited for large lists with a high volume of traffic.

"We appreciate LISTSERV's feature-rich capabilities. Without high-performance mailing list software it would be practically impossible for teachers to communicate with students on a course basis, for faculty administration to reach their exact target audience (e.g. students who are about to finish their studies, students who excel in their studies, etc.)," Mr. Barak said.

Mailing lists have increased communication between professors, lecturers, students and faculty. The result is more efficient faculty administration and far more accessible lecturers. The majority of Technion's email lists are academic course lists. However, the concept of fast and easy communication over email has successfully been applied to other areas of the institution and has resulted in lists for administrative faculty and management, as well as software focused lists, software licensing and distribution lists, news bulletins and data repository, using LISTSERV archives. The Oracle OCI interface is being used to maintain mailing lists whose members are a certain specific group of data, freshly cut daily from the institute's central data repository. Based on that, tools have been developed to enable faculty administration to send distribute jobs to specific sections of the list members, such as beginners, alumni, Ph.D. students and the like.

In addition to the traditional LISTSERV mailing list management screen, a faculty-level entry page has been introduced to make it easier for staff and administration to access their faculty related mailing lists:

One of the most appreciated benefits is that by subscribing to email groups centered on a particular area of interest, the mailing list members know they will receive only the information that they have asked for. "We do not have many list members that discontinue a list subscription because they receive irrelevant information," Mr. Barak said. "On the contrary, list owners and list members are experienced enough to know what kind of information to send to a respective list and what information to expect in return."

L-Soft's customer support has also been a major reason why Technion sticks with LISTSERV. "Each time I face a problem with any list-related issue I do not hesitate to contact L Soft's support staff who generally deliver a solution within a day to sometimes complex problems. There is always something new to learn about email list management," Mr. Barak said.

Case study written in December 2003 with Moshe Barak, Head of User Support Group, Taub Computer Center, Technion

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