FEd April 1995 Newsletter - THE FORUM HITS THE NET

April 1995



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Ken Lyons
(Note: this article was omitted from the April newsletter for lack of space.)

No, we haven't taken up tennis (or even volleyball). The "net" in question here is the internet, affectionately known as the World Wide Web, or WWW. The first week of January, the Forum on Education became the first of the forums to link a WWW homepage to the APS homepage, which itself opened less than a month earlier. As with any other homepage, the information here is accessible via a number of browser programs, notably lynx and mosaic, which are available to a wide range of users. To access the homepage, you can use the direct URL (http://www.att.com/APS/), or you access it via the APS home page (http://aps.org), following the links for the Forum on Education. There are two interactive forms systems accessible from this homepage, which make it rather unique. (In fact, for those who know about such things: they have been implemented as an experimental demonstration of a new form server system based on an extension of the HTML language.) These systems are the Forum Member Survey and the Summer Jobs Database.

The Summer Jobs Database has attracted a great deal of attention in the few weeks it has been open on the internet. Under the old system, accessible via email since August (see FEd News, August 1993), only seven programs had registered. By contrast, 22 additional programs registered in the first three weeks that the internet system was open, and more are arriving with regularity. I encourage everybody in the Forum to consider whether their institution, or they themselves, could usefully list positions on this database. We are hoping that many individuals will decide to seek qualified undergraduates as summer assistants via this mechanism. The use of the database via the internet is simple both for the person registering a position and the person seeking the information. As a matter of fact, a number of users have commented on the simplicity of the interface. The system was announced to student organizations in mid-January. At this writing, two weeks later, we have received more than 400 user inquiries via the WWW interface. [As of April 18, we now have more than 1000 inquiries via the database.] If this early use is any indication of its long term activity, we may clearly regard it as a success.

The Member Survey is designed to give us information as to the interests of the members to guide the executive committee as we make decisions that affect the future of the forum. It is also the first step in the development of a national precollege mentoring database which we hope will soon become an adjunct to the Summer Jobs Database. The Member Survey gives you an opportunity both to indicate your interest in being listed and to provide the information on your interests which will be listed there. See the related article for information on the progress of this survey.

There are a number of interesting information sections available on the page as well. Newsletters since April 1994 are available online, with hypertext links as appropriate to augment the text. A complete list of officers, including on-line mail service for various subcommittees, is also provided. There is a subsection of other resources, including curriculum materials and links to other database systems.

The page continues to evolve, even on a daily basis. A number of comments and requests have resulted in changes in the material presented, and in the organization of the databases. Your constructive comments will enable us to continue improving the effort. We also invite your contributions of material to add to the page. If you have WWW materials available, or know of relevant material, we would be grateful if you would send us information for a hyperlink. Send any such communications to Ken Lyons (kbl@physics.att.com).

I feel sure that the existence of this homepage will become a major asset to the Forum, as we find new ways to make use of the emerging technologies. I encourage all of you to participate, not only by making use of what it provides but also by sending us your ideas on ways to extend the effort and improve its effectiveness.