The Center for Biomedical Informatics
State University of Campinas, Brazil

Research Abstracts

Telementoring: Using the Internet for Remote Student Counseling in Neuroscience

Silvia Helena Cardoso1 and Renato M.E. Sabbatini1,2

1Center for Biomedical Informatics and 2Faculty of Medical Sciences, State University of Campinas, Campinas, Brazil.

Networking technologies such as the Internet are radically changing the way people interact. Access to knowledge is changing in an irreversible way and is destroying traditional barriers of space and time. The instant and constant availability of authors, teachers and scientists via the Internet makes possible that anyone can learn independently of his or her level of education or formal enrollment in courses or schools. However, in order to do this in an efficient manner, many times direct mentor-to-pupil advice and counseling is required; and technology has many ways of providing them at a distance. Our aim in the present work was to explore the possibilities of a free telementoring service to readers of "Brain & Mind" magazine, an electronic publication on neurosciences available on the WWW since 1997 (, using common electronic mail, due to its advantages as an asynchronous interaction tool and its overall availability, low cost and ease of use. Many types of readers and demands for telementoring were observed during one year of availabilty, ranging from high school students seeking advice for science fair projects, to undergraduate and graduate students in need of professional orientation, from many countries. The mentors answered the questions and started an e-mail dialogue in order to meet the student's demands. Literature searches and referral to other, more specialized mentors, were required some times. We report here a qualitative analysis of results and critically evaluate the usefulness and features related to telementoring and make recommendations for its future use in virtual e-learning communities in the neurosciences.

Keywords: Internet, WWW, distance education, neuroscience, electronic publications, mentoring

Presented at: Proceedings of the 31st Annual Meeting of the Society for Neurosciences, Nov. 2001, San Diego, CA.

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Last Updated: November 2, 2001