OWLs can offer good starting places for students to acclimate themselves to the Internet.

The Internet can be an intimidating place. However, because OWLs are often set up by people with a good sense of a student's needs, OWLs can attempt to offer a less intimidating starting place for writers. Few OWL people have extensive technical backgrounds; therefore, perhaps OWLs are staffed primarily by people who are well suited to anticipate and answer student questions.

In gopher and Web environments OWL coordinators and tutors can offer resources that help acclimate students. Handy lists of FAQ's (frequently asked questions), starting points, and introductory handouts could be useful.

In synchronous environments, as Jennifer Jordan-Henley and Barry Maid point out in the CyberTutor Project, tutors can play an important role in helping students feel comfortable on-line. The tone of initial on-line exchanges can set the tone for an entire semester, Jordan-Henley and Maid suggest, so they encourage tutors to remain positive about initial difficulties with technology.

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Stuart Blythe
Purdue University