April 1999 // Spotlight Site
Corporation for Research and Educational Networking (CREN)
Note: This article was originally published in The Technology Source (http://ts.mivu.org/) as: "Corporation for Research and Educational Networking (CREN)" The Technology Source, April 1999. Available online at http://ts.mivu.org/default.asp?show=article&id=1034. The article is reprinted here with permission of the publisher.

From its headquarters in Washington, DC, the Corporation for Research and Educational Networking disseminates knowledge and ideas about academic and professional IT issues. CREN was created in 1989 from the legendary BITNET organization and helps researchers and educators make a smooth transition (or leap) into Internet and WWW-based resources. CREN is a non-profit organization supported by dues from over 200 members. A list of member institutions is available on the site.

Certainly the most compelling CREN offering is the TechTalk Webcast. Anchored by Howard Strauss of Princeton University and various others, this online forum addresses current and future issues such as Y2K, networks, and online teaching tools. Guest experts meet with the CREN anchor(s) every two weeks to discuss a given topic and answer e-mail questions from members. The audio-only Webcast provides an introduction to the topic, some background, and biographies of the attending gurus. Other CREN tools include the powerful ListProc mailing list management software, Windows applications training instruments, and Virtual Seminar CDs on campus communications and the Web.

Because CREN is specifically geared toward serving postsecondary institutions, research organizations, and government agencies, many primary and secondary educators may not immediately find on the site anything applicable to their work. However, even the mildly IT-literate soul may find the TechTalk archives to be more interesting and authoritative than the typical glossy computer periodical at the local newsstand. Some of the archived discussions such as "The Future of HTML" may become outdated rather quickly; more general topics such as "Privacy, Security, and Handling Academic Business" have a longer shelf life. Recent and upcoming seminars address the current state of issues that were handled in previous meetings, so CREN is obviously making a concerted effort to provide the latest ideas and information.

Complementing its useful content, CREN's site is easily navigated, with a clean front page that allows rapid access to the most relevant and timely topics for the first-time viewer. The navigation bar is intelligently designed and corresponds seamlessly with the main home page headings. This site is easily accessible and is a good source of information for educators and others interested in the integration of technology and education.

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