Copyright Sociological Research Online, 1997



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 web site:

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:-

What Next?

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 from students.

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.

Catherine Skinner
Research Fellow, coMentor
Huddersfield University

Copyright Sociological Research Online, 1997