coMentor is a WWW-based multi-user virtual environment to facilitate collaborative
learning amongst social theory and philosophy students.
Our first coMentor prototype is now open to the world! There's a link to it from our
You don't need to download any special software to use the system.
What Is Comentor?
coMentor provides a shared learning environment on the WWW, in which students can
discuss and send messages whilst working together on projects, essays or
presentations. Other tools being developed allow students to share whiteboards, hold
brainstorming sessions, contribute to discussion lists, organise their work using
concept-maps, annotation and argument structuring facilities, and engage in role-playing.
Why Use Comentor?
coMentor has been developed at the suggestion of students themselves in response to
their needs. It allows students - particularly part-time students - to do many things that
they can't do in existing teaching environments:-
- coMentor enables flexible working patterns: students and teachers
can work from home, if they have a computer and access to the WWW.
- coMentor gives learners the chance to work with others, rather than just on their
own. And because students' contributions can be recorded, they can be rewarded for
mentoring - and more student mentoring means less staff time spent on remedial
- Over time, coMentor grows into a repository of resources that past students have
found useful or developed themselves, e.g. queries to teachers, essays, notes, or exam
- coMentor provides a range of tools to help students organise their thoughts and
writing individually or collaboratively in conceptually difficult theoretical
We will be testing coMentor on selected courses in 1997-98, and will be keeping the
sociological community informed of developments.
Any feedback you could give about the interface, usability and potential usefulness to
students would be very much appreciated. We'd be particularly grateful for comments
We're also trying to put together some useful introductory resources for 1st and 2nd
year undergraduates, many of whom find philosophy a particularly daunting subject. If
you have any concise introductory material that you wouldn't mind sharing with other
institutions, please let me know. We have facilities to scan and convert documents into
HTML. We are also producing a series of brief "Fact-Sheets" on particular
philosophers/social theorists and theoretical positions (e.g. relativist, idealist,
postmodernist) for students to use in role-playing exercises. These will give not only a
summary of the position the student will be assuming, but also information on how the
assumed character would argue, with examples of real or hypothetical arguments they
have engaged in. Any contributions from people in their area of expertise (especially
accounts of disputes between different philosophical schools) would be very gratefully
received. It would be nice if the resources we make available could reflect the diversity
of social theorising and philosophising in institutions around the UK.
Research Fellow, coMentor