Dealing w/ Student Questions

Dr. P.G.G. Miller pmiller at
Mon Jan 31 04:35:12 EST 1994

My view is that we are seeing the tip of what will eventually prove to be
a very large ice-berg.  This will potentially have both positive and negative 
aspects and I don't think these have been entirely thought through [not by me 
anyway, :-)].  

I suspect that when the net really gets going, we may have to rethink some of 
our objectives with regard to scholarship, access, plagiarism, etc.  My guess, 
however, is that the benefits of enhanced communication will far outstrip any 
negative aspects but both students and teachers need some sign-posts on the 
information superhighway (or whatever).  Maybe we also need a 
bionet.teacher-questions to discuss these issues:-) [and introduce them to 
newcomers]?  I can see many interesting discussions in the future starting from
diametrically opposed points of view with 'textbook X (vs Y) says...' or 'my 
teacher (vs your teacher) says...'.  Could be stressful but hopefully

On balance I would favour the establishment of an unmoderated 
bionet.student-questions with, eventually, further sub-groups, perhaps
according to level and/or subject area.  My feeling is that there should be a 
FAQ and that this should also point to list archives so that good answers are
not entirely lost from view.  It should also encourage students to indicate 
what research they have undertaken to date.  Our students already have access 
to a fair amount of library information in electronic form (catalogues, CD-ROM) 
but tend to use it relatively inefficiently, at least to start with.

Beyond that there might be a weekly (?) compilation of subject-sorted 
questions that haven't received a 'fair' answer being forwarded to 
the relevant bionet newsgroup(s) [could be student moderated] or, 
alternatively, a protocol whereby students post to the student group(s) first
and elsewhere at a later date.

Doubtless answers to all these points will evolve in due course; the question
is whether we should be proactive or reactive.

Anyway, that's the best I can do early on a Monday morning...


Peter Miller
CTI Centre for Biology
University of Liverpool, UK

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