Announce: Virtual Discussion Group for Evolutionary Biology Web Page

evo at evo at
Sat Nov 19 00:04:55 EST 1994

Announcing the Virtual Discussion Group for Evolutionary Biology Web page.

The URL is http://info.ITP.Berkeley.EDU/IB160.  This page is still under


"Virtual Discussion Group" for Evolutionary Biology

The Instructional Technology Program (ITP) and the Department of Integrative
Biology (IB) at the University of California at Berkeley have developed a
"virtual discussion group" in IB's upper division Evolution class (IB160).

Professor David Wake of Integrative Biology and Kellar Autumn, IB graduate
student and member of ITP's new Graduate Student Council on Instructional
Technology, have worked together on a system to facilitate discussion among
students and "remote experts" on the Internet.  The system is designed to
bridge the gap between traditional discussion sections and textbook

Usually sections involve discussion of assigned textbook material among
groups of students and a teaching assistant.  IB160 is unusual in that
textbook material takes the form of a reader containing articles from the
recent primary literature.  By using the reader, the course presents
evolution as a lively, open field with ongoing debates over modern topics.

IB160 introduces students to the conceptual framework of evolutionary
biology by presenting central ideas and controversies in lectures, followed
by readings in weekly discussion sections, where students debate and
evaluate not only the latest research but also points of contention and
conceptual advances.

Wake and Autumn have assembled a panel of experts from around the world that
rivals the editorial board of major scholarly journals.  Course assignments
enable students to ask basic questions and discuss course material with
leaders in the field, including correspondence with the "remote expert of the

The remote experts have been very enthusiastic about these virtual
discussions and have been impressed by the sophistication of student
questions and comments.  Accordingly, the experts have answered student
questions in great detail.  The system will likely be utilized in other IB
classes as well.

Information about the project is available at

-Kellar Autumn and Jean Yim
 evo at violet.Berkeley.EDU

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