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March 2000

An Introduction to Internet Resources for K-12 Educators
Part II: Question Answering, Electronic Discussion Groups, Newsgroups, Update 2000

Nancy A. Morgan, Updated by Carolyn Sprague

The Internet is an international computer network composed of thousands of smaller networks. As K-12 schools connect to the Internet, a new method of communication opens up to educators and their students. This Digest describes some sample services and resources that are available to the K-12 community by electronic mail over the Internet. Readers should be aware that the resources and their Internet addresses below are subject to change.

Question Answering:

The number of services that use electronic mail to deliver information is increasing. Services that teachers will find on the Internet include:

  • AskERIC: AskERIC is the Internet-based education information service of the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) system, headquartered at the ERIC Clearinghouse on Information & Technology at Syracuse University. Teachers, library media specialists, administrators, and others involved in education can send a message requesting education information to AskERIC. AskERIC information specialists will respond within two working days with ERIC database searches, ERIC Digests, and Internet resources. The benefit of the personalized service is that it allows AskERIC staff to interact with the user and provide relevant education resources tailored to the user's needs.
    E-mail: askeric@askeric.org

  • AskERIC Virtual Library: Lesson plans and resources developed from questions received at AskERIC are archived at the AskERIC Virtual Library:

  • KidsConnect: KidsConnect is a question-answering, help and referral service for K-12 students on the Internet. The goal of KidsConnect is to help students access and use the information available on the Internet effectively and efficiently. KidsConnect is a component of ICONnect, a technology initiative of AASL (American Association of School Librarians, a division of the American Library Association). Students use e-mail to contact KidsConnect and receive a response from a volunteer library media specialist within two school days.
    E-mail: AskKC@ala.org

  • Internet Public Library Ask-A-Question Service: Answers all types of general reference questions. You'll get a brief factual answer if you've asked a specific question, or, if you have a broader topic of interest, you'll get a short list of sources that you can use to explore your topic further. IPL's website also contains an extensive online collection of library resources.

  • Ask Dr. Math: "Ask Dr. Math," a service for elementary, middle, and high school students, is administered by students and professors at Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, PA.
    E-mail: dr.math@forum.swarthmore.edu

  • The MAD Scientist Network: The MAD Scientist Network is an "Ask-A-Scientist" service run entirely on the WWW. They answer questions in chemistry, physics, astronomy, earth sciences, the biological sciences and more. More than 500 scientists at institutions around the world provide answers to science questions.

  • Ask A+ Locator: The AskA+ Locator is a database of high-quality "AskA" services designed to link students, teachers, parents, and other K-12 community members with experts on the Internet. Profiles of each AskA service include identification information (e.g., publisher, e-mail address, contact person, links to services' home pages), scope, target audience, and a general description of the service. The Ask A+ Locator is searchable by subject, keyword, grade level, or alphabetical list. Ask A+ Locator is part of the Virtual Reference Desk.

Electronic Discussion Groups:

Usenet Newsgroups:

Usenet Newsgroups are an electronic bulletin board system, accessible via the Internet, that consists of discussion forums on literally thousands of topics. Users should contact their system operator for instructions. Some of the Usenet Newsgroups are:

news: k12.chat.teacher-General discussion between K-12 Teachers
news: k12.ed.art-Arts and Crafts Education
news: k12.ed.business-Business Education
news: k12.ed.comp.literacy-Teaching computer literacy in grades K-12
news: k12.library-Implementing Info Technologies in school libraries
news: k12.ed.life-skills-Life Skills Education
news: k12.ed.math-Mathematics Education
news: k12.ed.music-Music and Performing Arts
news: k12.ed.science-Science Education
news: k12.ed.soc-studies-Social Studies Education
news: k12.ed.special-Educating students with special needs

References and Readings:

Abilock, D. (1996). Integrating e-mail into the curriculum. Technology Connection, 3(5), 23-25. (EJ 531 026)

Branch, R.M., Kim, D., & Koenecke, L. (1999). Evaluating online educational materials for use in instruction. ERIC Digest. Syracuse, NY: ERIC Clearinghouse on Information & Technology. (ED 430 564)

Hill, J. A., & Misic, M. M. (1996). Why you should establish a connection to the Internet. TechTrends, 41(2), 10-16. (EJ 520 228)

The Internet roadmap for educators. (1996). Arlington, VA: Educational Research Service. (ED 397 520) Junion-Metz, G. (1997). K-12 Resources on the Internet: An instructional guide. 2nd Edition, Revised and Expanded. Internet workshop series, Number 5. El Dorado Hills, CA: Library Solutions Press. (ISBN-1-882208-22-6). (ED 412 913)

Lyris Technologies Inc. (1999). Tile.net/: The Comprehensive Internet Reference. [Online]. Available: http://tile.net/

Milheim, W. D. (1997). Instructional utilization of the Internet in public school settings. TechTrends, 42(2), 19-23. (EJ 543 253)

Miller, E. B. (1999). The Internet resource directory for K-12 teachers and librarians, 1999/2000 edition. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, Inc. (ISBN-1-56308-812-6). (ED 433 028)

Treadwell, M. (1999). 1001 of the best Internet sites for educators. K-College. Arlington Heights, IL: Skylight Training and Publishing, Inc. (ED 429 560)

Windschitl, M. (1999). Using the WWW for teaching and learning in K-12 classrooms: What are the interesting research questions? Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Montreal, Quebec, Canada, April 19-23, 1999). (ED 429 580)

This Digest was created by ERIC, the Educational Resources Information Center, and updated by Carolyn Sprague, AskERIC Network Information Specialist. For more information about ERIC, see ACCESS ERIC: http://www.accesseric.org/

ERIC Digests are in the public domain and may be freely reproduced and disseminated.

ERIC Clearinghouse on Information & Technology, 621 Skytop Road, Suite 160, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY 13244-5290; (315) 443-3640; FAX (315) 443-5448; e-mail: eric@ericir.syr.edu; URL: http://ericir.syr.edu/ithome

This publication is funded at least in part with Federal funds from the U.S. Department of Education under contract number ED-99-CO-0005. The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. government. The U.S. Department of Education's web address is: http://www.ed.gov/