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Usenet and Bitnet in the Classroom

There are numerous Usenet newsgroups of potential interest to teachers and students (see section Usenet: the Global Watering Hole).

As you might expect, many are of a scientific bent. You can find these by typing `l sci.' in rn or using `nngrep sci.' for nn. There are now close to 40, with subjects ranging from archaeology to economics (the "dismal science," remember?) to astronomy to nanotechnology (the construction of microscopically small machines).

One thing students will quickly learn from many of these groups: science is not just dull, boring facts. Science is argument and standing your ground and making your case. The Usenet sci.* groups encourage critical thinking.

Beyond science, social-studies and history classes can keep busy learning about other countries, through the soc.culture.* newsgroups.

Most of these newsgroups originated as ways for expatriates of a given country to keep in touch with their homeland and its culture. In times of crisis, however, these groups often become places to disseminate information from or into the country and to discuss what is happening. From Afghanistan to Yugoslavia, close to 50 countries are now represented on Usenet. To see which groups are available, use `l soc.culture.' in rn or `nngrep soc.culture.' for nn.

One caveat: Teachers might want to peruse particular newsgroups before setting their students loose in them. Some have higher levels of flaming and blather than others.

Several "talk" newsgroups provide additional topical discussions, but teachers should screen them first before recommending them to students. They range from talk.abortion, via talk.politics. guns to talk.politics.space, and talk.environment.

There are also a number of Bitnet discussion groups of potential interest to students and teachers. See section Mailing Lists and Bitnet for information on finding and subscribing to Bitnet discussion groups. Some with an educational orientation include:

biopi-l     ksuvm.bitnet        Secondary biology education
chemed-l    uwf.bitnet          Chemistry education
dts-l       iubvm.bitnet        The Dead Teacher's Society list
phys-l      uwf.bitnet          Discussions for physics teachers
physhare    psuvm.bitnet        Where physics teachers share resources
scimath-l   psuvm.bitnet        Science and math education

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