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BESTNET: An Electronic Home For International Communities of Interest |-------------------------------------| | Paper presented at CAUSE92 | | December 1-4, 1992, Dallas,

Texas | |-------------------------------------|

BESTNET: An Electronic Home For International Communities of Interest

Frank A. Medeiros Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs San Diego State University San Diego, CA 92182 ABSTRACT This presentation describes the activities and future directions of BESTNET, an international consortium of universities and other entities to promote the effective use of information technology and electronic communication tools to encourage interinstitutional cooperation for the purpose of enhancing teaching, learning, research and community service. Established in 1985, BESTNET has evolved into a dynamic, developing organization of people, institutions, tasks and technology. Its future success almost certainly lies within the domain of further international development. ------------------------------------------------------------------------

INTRODUCTION/BACKGROUND I am often asked the deceptively simple question, "What is BESTNET?" Presumably that is why most of you are here today. In order to respond most effectively, we have developed a body of written and electronic materials which not only describe the specific objectives, features and activities of BESTNET, but which also attempt to convey the "feel" of BESTNET as a powerful instructional resource. I will spend some time in this presentation going over these materials with you, but also want to leave an ample period for questions and discussion you might consider useful. Before we launch into the "What is BESTNET?" question, let us briefly review its origins. BESTNET (an acronym for "Binational English Spanish Telecommunications Network") was established in 1985 by Dr. Armando Arias and Dr. Beryl Bellman through support from FIPSE and the Western Behavioral Sciences Institute, with cooperation from Digital Equipment Corporation. At this time, the primary objective was to develop a series of Spanish/English distance education video courses with an increasingly pronounced use of a computer conferencing component. It was this aspect of the project which moved BESTNET into its next state of development. In early 1991, Digital Equipment Corporation expressed its continuing interest in BESTNET by awarding an equipment grant of nearly $300,000 to selected institutions to pursue a multi-year research agenda to better

understand the impact of this technology in a multicultural educational setting. Shortly thereafter, a governance structure consisting of a 9member institution board of directors was established to further the various activities and objectives of the BESTNET enterprise. BESTNET Established in 1985, BESTNET is an international consortium of universities and other entities with a special educational mission. BESTNET was created to promote the use of information technology and worldwide electronic communication tools to enhance teaching, learning, scholarship, research, and community service. Today BESTNET is a dynamic, developing organization of people, institutions, tasks and technology. OBJECTIVES --Continue to build a distributed, multi-institutional electronic network. --Use the network to prepare, coordinate and deliver educational materials supporting instruction in numerous disciplines. --Create and support an electronic community of scholars for collaborative research. --Provide an international facility for electronic meetings, specialized conferences and other electronic interactions. FEATURES DISTRIBUTED NETWORK BESTNET is designed as a fully distributed, integrate computer conferencing, electronic mail and videotex network for education and research. ELECTRONIC CLASSROOMS An electronic classroom uses modern information technology as primary tools for teaching. Today's telecommunications systems make it easy to span borders and cultures. Classes are taught using such media as computer conferencing, electronic mail videotex, audio, and video; hence, they are not limited t a specific time or place. Students participate when it is convenient for them and their input is immediately made available to all participants of the conference, regardless of their location. COLLABORATIVE TEACHING Collaborative teaching involves a variety of arrangements and alliances among universities and colleges and their faculties. Guest experts can participate from anywhere in the world, providing a unique opportunity for students to learn from a wide range of sources. The classroom can be expanded to include several instructors from collaborating institutions. COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH

A number of scholars and researchers participate in BESTNET conferences. The researcher can establish a conference to discuss a particular problem, present a new idea, or pose a variety of questions. Researchers and students can then reply to topics presented in the conference. Because the respondents are not limited to a particular discipline or area of study, expertise may be enlisted from the humanities, business, the sciences or the social sciences. This gives the researcher a unique opportunity to gather information viewed from several different disciplines and add fresh insight to academic work. COMPUTER CONFERENCING AND INFORMATION RETRIEVAL BESTNET participants use computer and communications technology to access one of the several BESTNET nodes via telephone modem, the Internet, or X.25. Digital Equipment Corporation VAX Notes conferencing software, electronic mail, and convenient menu-driven access to information retrieval services are provided on a 24-hour basis. All VAX Notes conferences on all nodes are accessible from any one node and all input to conferences is retained on the various systems so that a documented history of discussions exists. PRIVATE CONFERENCES In addition to public forums, private conferences with one or more moderators can be established for groups interested in a confidential electronic "conversational" arena. Conference members from remote areas may participate in meetings, project development, or informal talk in a timely, convenient, and on-going manner. The moderator maintains a membership access list and may chair topic areas. ELECTRONIC MEETINGS Conferences can be opened to all or limited to a select group of people. Each conference has one or more moderators who manage the conference. Meetings can be conducted on the computer without the constraints of time or place. Conferences can have a life of a few days or be of unlimited duration. The moderator can add or delete members and create electronic mail distribution lists. BESTNET BOARD OF DIRECTORS Chair Frank A. Medeiros San Diego State University Armando Arias Texas A & I University Beryl Bellman California State University, Los Angeles Gary Levine California State University, Dominguez Hills

Vicente LopezlRodrigo Gutierrez Centro de Ensenanza Tecnica y Superior Duane Metzger University of California, Irvine Mark Resmer Sonoma State University Art St. George University of New Mexico Armando Valdez Instituto Tecnologico de Mexicali John Witherspoon San Diego State University BESTNET CLASSES More than 50 classes are now being conducted by 9 universities. They include: ----------------------------------------------------------------------COURSE INSTITUTION Technological Trends in Telecommunications San Diego State University

Mass Communication and Society San Diego State University Practicum in Evaluation Intercultural Communication Chicano Studies Communication Theory San Diego State University California State University, Los Angeles California State University, Los Angeles Sonoma State University, Texas A&I California State University, Los Angeles University of Nairobi University of Zinbabwe University of California, Irvine

Theory and Practice of Long-term Social and Economic Development Ethnobotany Introduction to Computers Psychology and Communication Speech Processing Chips Technology and Society Introduction to Sociology Language and Communication

University of California, Irvine Arizona State University CETYS, Tijuana Mexico CETYS, Tijuana Mexico Instituto Tecnologico, Mexicali, Mexico Texas A&I University of New Mexico University of California, Irvine

Behavior Script Writing, Mass Media & Human Interaction California State University, Los Angeles

Organizational Communications California State University, Los Angeles -----------------------------------------------------------------------

SCREEN #l (MENU) ----------------------------------------------------------------------SDSU BESTnet System Welcome! Type ? for Help on this Menu User: LEDINGHAM Date: 10/19/92 Dir : USROl:[LEDINGHAM] PSTime: 08:04 AM Menu Options: H Help H VAX Notes V Vnews Usenet Newsreader L Internet Infobase(s) Access U Carl Uncover Data Access R S J C Remind yourself CSwing - File Management Joblog - Terminal output to disk English Spell Checker

Q Exit Menu P Phone B Logout H E-Mail -----------------------------------------------------------------------

SCREEN #2 (MAIN DIRECTORY) ----------------------------------------------------------------------Notes> open conf_of_conf Copyright Digital Equipment Corporation. 1986, 1990. R~ Rights Reserved. _______________________________________________________________________ Directory of Notebook class MAIN ENTRY NAME Unseen Last new note Topics Updatestatus >375SEMINRR 43 16-OCT-1992 11:18 4 BESTNET 83 18-MAY-1992 10:27 32 File not found CAFE 2639 20-OCT-1992 12:33 386 CETYS 517 9-OCT-1992 12:39 121 COM_THEORY 21 6-JAN-1992 16:00 15 File not found CONF_OF_CONF 62 19-OCT-1992 16:24 161 DATABASE 1 17-NOV-1858 00:00 0 File not found DIRECTORY 781 18-OCT-1992 19:43 376 ED451_FORUM 38 1-APR-1992 11:48 27 File not found EDTECH700 201 11-JUN-1992 22:11 27 File not found EDTEC_553 104 18-AUG-1992 12:44 23 File not found ERICSSON 7 27-JAN-1992 17:10 3 File not found FEELINGS 687 17-OCT-1992 13:28 174 FREE_TRADE 84 29-SEP-1992 20:41 25 IDEOLOGY 92 31-AUG-1991 10:31 44 File not found IDS180 251 5-MAY-1992 16:47 20 File not found INTERCULTURAL 1 17-NOV-1858 00:00 0 File not found MORE . . . -----------------------------------------------------------------------

SCREEN #3 (INTRO TO SEMINAR) ----------------------------------------------------------------------Note 2.0 INTRODUCTION TO THE SEMINAR BESTSD::GUNDRY "John Gundry" 102 lines Hello from John Gundry. I shall be running a seminar here in 375Seminar, starting Oct 5th. Just so that you have some idea of who's on this end of the computer, I'm an Englishman, and was brought up in South London. I went to a university about 100 miles north of London to do a BSc in Psychology. I then came to where I live now, Reading, to do a PhD in Psychology at the University, and have stayed here ever since, working for the Royal Air Force, then a consultancy company, and most recently Digital Equipment Corporation, which has its UK headquarters here. Reading is a town about 40 miles west of London, which used to be famous for its three "B's": Beer (a big brewer~), Bulbs (lots of market gardens nearby), and Biscuits (a long-established factor~). Now it's more famous for three "C'S": Computers (lots of high-tech companies), 85 MORE LINES ----------------------------------------------------------------------9 replies 4-OCT-1992 14:33

SCREEN #4 (LIBS) ----------------------------------------------------------------------LIBS - Internet access Software v2.0 (beta) Mark Resmer, Sonoma State University, Sept 1992 On-line services available through the Internet: 1 2 3 4 5 6 United States Library Catalogs Library Catalogs in other countries Campus-wide Information Systems Databases and Information Services Wide-area Information Services Information for first time users

Press RETURN alone to see previous Menu Press Control-C Q <return> to exit at any time Enter the number of your choice: 1 -----------------------------------------------------------------------

CURRENT ACTIVITIES/PROSPECTS At the present time (December 1992), the central task of the BESTNET organization remains to fulfill its contractual obligations to Digital Equipment Corporation by conducting research and submitting reports in the following areas of investigation:

--Social Factors in Networked Communication --Interinstitutional Collaboration --Networked Learning Processes --Development of a Human-Network Interface --BESTNET Backbone Development --Project Assessment and Evaluation A number of specific research reports in these general categories have already been completed as originally scheduled. Another important set of activities involves the development and expansion of BESTNET into other arenas of education and training. Recent examples include: --Grant support from the Center for International Business Education and Research (a consortium of 23 research institutions) to provide datacommunications and database development services to member institutions --Grant support from the Public Service Satellite Consortium for the development of telecommunications databases --Use of BESTNET as a vehicle for a Master of Arts in Humanities external degree program (CSU, Dominguez Hills) --Prospective installation of BESTNET in selected Maquiladoras in Tijuana (CETYS/SDSU) --An assortment of smaller, highly-specified projects Perhaps the most exciting aspect of BESTNET, however, is in the domain of international development. Indeed, the original and continuing involvement with institutions and colleagues in Mexico speaks to this growing BESTNET commitment. Areas of the world that hold the most promising prospects in this regard include Latin America, Eastern Europe and Russia, and Africa. Contacts with individuals/institutions in these regions and others represent vitally important work for BESTNET, and will almost certainly constitute the impetus for the future growth and success of the BESTNET organization.