Saturday, January 9, 2010

Disposable Emails

One of my biggest challenges this year has involved email. My school district does not currently give students access to email. They can't access webmail sites like Yahoo, Google, etc., and the district does not provide district email for the students. This has proven problematic for a couple of reasons.

The biggest one is that 4 of my teaching standards involve students using email. Alas, I have not found a way around this. It'll be tough to teach kids how to email without email!

A byproduct of not having email access has also been that it's difficult for me to use Web 2.0 sites with my students, as many of them require that new accounts be created with existing email addresses. Luckily, I found a solution to this second problem.

Disposable Emails! While this may be an obvious solution to many people, it hadn't initally occurred to me. So I thought I'd write this post for others who may not have thought of this right away.

Disposable emails are essentially temporary (or they can be made long term) "bogus" email accounts that can be used to avoid spam when signing up at websites. There are many different ways to obtain a disposable email account. Of course most of the major web mail providers allow you to create alternative email accounts that are linked to your real one, but this doesn't work all that well when you can't access web mail at school!!

Here are some of the better disposable email providers:

This is probably the best solution for the problem I mentioned above, as you wouldn't need to create bogus emails for your students in advance. With SpamGourmet, you create an email for yourself first, then as students sign up at websites, they just create a variation of that email and voila! Instant email creation. When students create their email addresses, they use the following formula: for example, The first part, billy34_website, needs to be a term that's never been used before. The "5" stands for the number of emails you want to receive to this address (max is 20, though they can skip the 5, then the default is 3). Holenclass is the uesername you created in advance.

Google Email has a little "trick" that also allows you to create emails on the fly, though I've found that it doesn't work at all sites, so be sure to test it out first. Let's say Frankie needs an email address to sign up for a Web 2.0 site the class is using. Have him use the following email: where is an address you created for your class.

This is also a good potential solution. When students visit this website, they can create a disposable email address by typing in a real address (create an email address for them to use, such as They can also select how long their email will remain valid, up to 3 months. The only drawback is that you then need to login to the "real" address and confirm each of the "bogus" emails before they can be used.

This one is probably not the best solution since it's not free, but I mention it because it does have may cool features. Spamex allows you to hide your real email address, reveal who disclosed your information, keep track of logins and passwords, and makes it easy to change your real email address at any time.

There are lots of different disposable email solutions online, and I have certainly not looked at all of them. If you find another good or better one, let me know!


  1. Useful list!

    Correction about the Gmail -- the "+Frankie" needs to come after the class address, not before. It doesn't work with some sites, as you pointed out, because they don't realize that "+" is a valid character within an email address and don't accept it.

  2. Joanna,

    Thanks for the feedback! Yes, the + is the confounding factor in Gmail disposable accounts!

    With regards to the order of the +Frankie-- most websites that give instructions agree with you, but in practice this format bounces, and the reverse that I described works.... Strange, but true!