In this course the distinctions between students and consultants (not tutors!) is deliberately fuzzy, and there is no implied hierarchy - we are all doing this to learn from each other. We expect that many students will be experts in other disciplines and that they will bring a great deal of valuable knowledge and experience to the course. The body of students will therefore be very varied and limited only by the few criteria below.

There are no age, geographical or other restrictions on being a student, and there are no monetary course fees, although we hope for a contribution in kind. There is also no accreditation attached to this course (although it will be used by some real-life MSc students at Birkbeck and very possibly other places).

Virtual and real-life Students

Because there is so little experience of virtual courses we ask that students taking the course are prepared to contribute in rather special ways. Remember that if you are a virtual student (i.e. you have never physically met any of the consultants), we are totally reliant on you to give us feedback! Of course from your viewpoint you are real and the consultants are virtual! Because of this we intend that the course has two types of student: (if anyone can think of better terms, great!). The real-life students will not receive any additional tutoring, although they can talk within their groups. The consultant will, however, be able to find out from them whether the pace of the course is satisfactory, whether there are difficulties with the technology, whether there are conceptual issues which can't easily be addressed over the Net, etc.

Contributions and learning contracts

Our experience has shown that there has to be a joint commitment from both consultants and students. We've therefore developed the idea of a learning contract. This is an agreement (not legally binding) that all parties will use their 'best endeavour' to make the course work. Before applying to be a student, please make sure that you're broadly happy with the ideas in the contract.

The course requires commitment 'in-kind' from students. This is not a read-only course - it's one where we learn by all participating. There are many ways that people can participate and there should certainly be at least one appropriate to you.

Consulting students

Because most of the material will need to built for the course, we are looking for students to help before the course starts. Students who fill the requirements of the course volunteer to help beforehand will be guaranteed a place (until this category is full).


Experience shows that we will be heavily over-subscribed and we shall have to make selections. I'm afraid this means arbitrary decisions, since we would like to get a balance between many things (geography to balance timezones, the current scientific disciplines of the students, technical skills, etc). Please do not mail me, or any of the consultants, before the course. We shall provide an HTML form for registration, so that we can collate data.

Personal data

It is not possible in practice to keep personal data confidential, so you should treat everything that you send us as potentially public. All registrants at BioMOO are required to give their real-life affiliation. However we shall do whatever else we can to keep details private and here are more details on the policy.

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pmr for pps
Sept 18 1994