Newsgroups, listservs and mail archives.

Perhaps the first examples of digital libraries in networked environments were the archives produced by the many USENET newsgroups and listservs available through global networks. News reading and filtering programs [21, 25] and search tools such as Archie and Veronica [8] provide rudimentary aids for locating information in these electronic discussions. Listservs are used for specialized projects (e.g., the ESS project above and the Perseus project both have listservs) and for distance education courses. In a cable television course taught by Marchionini, a listserv was used by students to present "one-minute papers" at the conclusion of each session. This provided continuity between sessions and personalized the interactions between the instructor and students, who would otherwise have only remote telephone access during live sessions. In another semester, students in graduate seminars in human-computer interaction taught by Marchionini at the University of Maryland and Christine Borgman at UCLA collaborated on term projects through email and FTP services. Students gained broader perspectives by virtue of the diversity in backgrounds that students from the different schools brought to the courses, and both positive collaborations and "techno-bullying" were observed. See [15] for a set of experiences in the virtual classroom.

In another setting, Maurer used Hyper-G [17] both as electronic library and discussion forum. In a 200-student class on "Societal Aspects of Computer Science" some 50 high-quality papers from specialists were made available to students via Hyper-G as the basis of a wide ranging electronic discussion. Students were able to comment on papers and earlier comments, the structure of the discussion being visualized using the X-Windows client Harmony [11]. The experiment created a network of over 4000 hyperlinked documents. Students remained "semi-anonymous" to encourage free discussion: i.e. students were allowed to choose arbitrary pen-names known only to each individual and to the instructor, the latter since student evaluation was based on the quality of contributions of the students. The experiment exemplifies blurring of the borderlines between electronic libraries and CSCW [7]--the semi-structured threads of conversation that make up news archives and lists provide another type of digital library product that will find increasing use in both formal and informal learning.

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