Scientific Program > Topic 7 > Session 7E >
Presentation 7E2. News - Groups and Teaching Statistics. Are they Useful?

Jenny Pange (Greece)


Presentation Abstract
This paper considers the potential of the "news-group", as a Web-based tool, to enhance learning about the nature of statistics, and statistics learning and teaching. This Web-based tool has to be used as an information conduit, as a place where alternative viewpoints are accessed, and as a way of promoting communication within an international statistics education community. In particular, the pedagogical potential of "news-groups" for exploring alternative viewpoints, writing for a Web community, and promoting collaborative learning will be discussed.

The introduction of "news -groups" for statistics educators from several different countries provides a useful way to establish international links and broaden the collaboration to that of a world wide community of learners. Furthermore, the way in which both in-service teachers and statistics educators participate in the discussion, sending their responses to a list of topics and questions, points towards a process by which the division between the 'novice' and 'expert' can be broken down.

However, the unreliability of the system and lack of clarity of aspects of the Web-based tool lead to frustration for statisticians and educators. So, many teachers and statisticians become disappointed with the technology, and are negative about the use of "news-groups". I think that much of the reason for the negative trend in statisticians' attitudes towards the technology is due to a feeling of lack of control and frustration when the system does not operate reliably.

If there are in the Web lists of discussion topics that will be included more widely in the delivery of all statistical subjects, then we expect more and more statisticians to enter to these "news-groups" and express their opinions. The content of these topics can be always either technical or educational, centred either on hardware or software issues; or on concerns with the use of statistics in teaching and learning. Moreover, home access to the Web is likely to give in-service teachers a greater advantage in the use of the technology to study statistics. So, clearly, reliable and easily accessible hardware and software is essential if the promise of Web-based "news-groups" is to be realised. The alternative is frustration and resentment in the statisticians who are meant to benefit from this technology.


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