institutions that fit our aim. The main problem that arose with this strategy was the difficulty
to confirm the data. In fact we needed the institutions to give feedback on the data. In most of
the cases the information available on the Internet did not have a contact person, no phone or
fax number, nor address of the institution, only a server e mail address. We used this address
to try and contact the right person to speak with, but we faced several difficulties. Most of the
time, no one would answer and, in other cases, responses where too slow. It was a very time
consuming process so we took on this strategy at a slower pace.
Country level search engines could provide more accurate information. In fact, by using the
national search engines and the country languages we found the results to be more valuable
than by using international search engines. For instance in Brazil, we used Portuguese as a
search language and the main search was done with the Brazilian search engines (CADE,
ACHEI, SURF). These kind of search engines provided us with more detailed data and more
accurate information for the catalogue. The advantage of speaking the country's language is
essential in order to follow this line of investigation.
The use of newsgroups and mailing lists provided a great deal of contacts and answers via e
mail. The most relevant mailing lists were: ISPO (Information Society Project Office), Midas
Net (INFO 2000 contact points), IRC (Innovation Relay Centers), UETP (University
Enterprise Training Partnership), Majordomo (ISPO), URL:, Europa, and Cordis. Among the
newsletters were: Agora, and Impressao Digital. The use of all those facilities and particularly
the use of mailing lists was of great value because they reach a lot of people.
The use of ordinary mail can be seen as a old method for reaching information, especially in a
project dealing with online learning. We wrote to the national ministries of education, national
training bodies, and other relevant national organizations in the European countries involved,
but we did not receive any answers. We also contacted some international organizations and
bodies using this method and we received one answer.
Using personal contacts and partner contacts was the most successful strategy. The contacts
were made personally by phone and e mail and in most cases we had favorable responses. One
of the most interesting processes developed under this method was the networking among
contacted people. Some of the people contacted helped us a great deal because they forwarded
information to others. The phone contacts were frequent and can be considered crucial for this
Finally, 16 interviews were conducted via face to face meetings, telephone, and e mail. Three
of the interviews were conducted with institutions that were not represented in the catalogue.
These are CNED <132> in France, The Virtual University of the technological system of
Monterrey <133> in Mexico, and GECSA <131> in Spain.
Four fill in forms, similar to the one presented in Figure 1, were made available via
http://home.nettskolen.nki.no/~morten/cisaer/. The information entered in the forms was
automatically forwarded as e mail to the respective partners for compilation of regional