ETD Guide/Training the Trainers/Creating an online database of problem solving solutions

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A quite important document must be at the users' disposal together with the various tools implemented for the electronic edition of scientific documents:

  • User’s guide for the preparation of the documents
  • User’s guide for the conversion itself
  • Pedagogical toolkit for the training of authors...

This first edition, as complete as it may be, is nevertheless insufficient. It must be completed by the online diffusion of a database listing all the problems usually encountered and their solutions (FAQ) eventually completed with links to specific documents with examples.

Most of the time, such a database cannot be a priori completely defined and will have to be enriched as the number of users grows and their mastery of the various tools increases.

The collection of the questions and problems are done very efficiently thanks to the creation of discussion lists or forums opened to the users. It is recommendable to group the frequent questions or problems by subject, to offer an easier and friendly consultation.

Then, two methods considered for the construction of the database of solutions:

  • Synthesis, based on the discussion list, prepared by some "experts" used to supply the database with questions and answers. The information available for the users is validated.
  • The content of the forum indexed directly; the information is not validated, and it is thus the users themselves who will have to make a sort in the list of answers they get for their request. If this second method is lighter in terms of administration and management, its efficiency depends on the quality of the posted messages (questions and answers): precise and clear subject, good presentation of the problem, argumentation of the answer, etc.

Whichever the adopted solution may be, its implementation may rest on usual free software classical list and database servers.

The online diffusion of the so constructed FAQ must still have the name and e-mail of a member of the technical staff or a visible link to the discussion list in order to answer the questions not taken into account in the database.

As an example, CyberThèses proposes a forum construct with a MySql database and interfaced with Php, and will develop a second database from validated information.


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