Welcome to the PPS '96 course. Here we enclose instructions for the opening section, which we anticipate will take a minimum of one 1 week. During this introductory phase, all the participants will be settling in and getting used to the way in which the course is conducted. This is quite a long page but please take the time to read it.
Instructions for this session are as follows:
Familiarize yourself with the structure of the Course Hypertree, particularly the Noticeboard; get into the habit of checking this to see whats new. Note the link to the Updates page.
The Assignments index will carry the latest instructions for each
section of the course.
You should now all be subscribed to the 4 e-mail discussion lists:
pps96-general, pps96-technical, pps96-proteins, pps96-bioinformatics
If you did not subscribe yourself, we will have subscribed you to them. The lists are all archived on our WWW pages.
If you have only subscribed within the last few days, then please read the messages on pps96-general , that you may have missed. There has also been some traffic on the pps96-technical list.
If you do not think you are not receiving mail on the lists, please
There are a total of 63 students from 12 countries enrolled on the
course. There are five groups of 12 to 13 people. We were scratching
our heads wondering what to name these groups; the number five seemed
to lend itself neatly to the nucleotide bases- Adenine, Thymine, Guanine,
Cytosine and Uracil. Admittedly these aren't themselves components of
proteins, but nonetheless have a very important bearing on protein science.
Thanks to Alan Mills for this suggestion.
Shortly you will receive an e-mail listing the other members of your group. Each group will have a Tutor at Birkbeck, and it is important that you establish e-mail contact with him or her, as well as with the other members of your group. You should be receiving a welcoming e-mail from your tutor in due course, if you have not done so already.
Your group will also have an associated Consultant, who has generously offered to act as an adviser. Most of these have been involved in a "virtual course" before, and they are keen to help, but please bear in mind that they are volunteers with other commitments.
Some students within each group may also wish to act as a spokesperson and to help bind the group together- if you are interested in doing this, please contact your tutor.
Within each group, we have aimed to include people from a variety of backgrounds and with a range of ability in terms of Internet skills and Information Technology in general. Of course, it has been necessary to group together people from similar time-zones, to make "virtual meetings" more convenient; but where possible, we have tried to compose groups from several different countries.
If other people located at your institution have enrolled on the PPS course, we will have grouped you with at least one of your Real Life colleagues, as you will inevitably be discussing the course with them. The downside of this is that it is somewhat contrary to the spirit of communication in "Cyberspace", so if you feel that you would rather be grouped with "remote" students, let us know AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, and we will arrange a transfer!
If you do have real colleagues in your group, try and make sure that
you maintain good contact with the virtual members of your group; your
Tutor and Consultant will also be holding things together.
We aren't expecting people to produce homepages at any particular time
during the course, but its something you may want to start thinking
We will encourage each group to put together a Group Page during the course. See the Group Page of last years PPS course for an idea of the kind of thing we mean- of course the individual style of each page is entirely the choice of your group members.
You may also like to produce your own personal home page (if you don't already have one), or perhaps mail your group describing your research interests. We appreciate that many of you are highly qualified in your field so outlining your expertise, and how the subject of Proteins relates to it, will benefit other participants. Soon all students will be assigned their own protein structure, which they will learn about during the course; so think about possible candidates for your own protein.
If you wish, you can add your details to the
List of PPS People, which
Gail Schuman of Brookhaven National Laboratory, U.S. has kindly agreed to
maintain. Some of you have already done so.
Its quite possible that Gail will get inundated with entries from
participants at the beginning of the course, so please be patient about
having your contribution added.
Course Material for The Introductory Section of the Course
To set the scene, there is a brief introduction to the subject of proteins,
to give some answers to the question of why we should be interested in
There is also a refresher on The Internet, partly from the angle of biomolecular science. We appreciate that a number of you are very experienced in this subject and other I.T. matters; others are newer to the medium, and it is very important that everyone becomes familiar with at least the basic concepts so that we can all communicate easily. Then we can proceed to the course material proper on protein structure.
Make sure you are familiar with the use of e-mail listservers, and how to navigate the World Wide Web, Gopherspace and ftp sites. Being able to write HTML isn't so important at this stage.
Few of you were previously familiar with BioMOO, so this is something for the more experienced 'Netters to investigate. You might want to start arranging group meetings in BioMOO- your group Tutor will also be in touch about this in due course. We are grateful to Gustavo Glusman, Jaime Prilusky and colleagues at The Weizmann Institute for their encouragement and support for our use of BioMOO for this course.
If you don't feel ready for the MOO at this stage, don't worry. Indeed, if you are feeling initially daunted by the technological side of things, bear in mind that we anticipate that there is scope to increase the length of the Introductory section- we will see how everyone gets on. We are here to help, and there are many participants with particular technical expertise- please use the pps96-technical e-mail list.
We hope this describes adequately what you should be aiming to do during this first "settling-in" phase. A very important part of the course is the discussion of the various issues raised; let the e-mail traffic flow....
The Course Organizers
15th Jan '96
Last updated 14th Jan '96