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Technology and the New Teacher: Internet

About this Daily Classroom Special
Technology and the New Teacher is designed to introduce you to the topics, successes, and pitfalls of technology in the classroom. It was written by Buzz Eyler, a Teachers Network web mentor who has been leading in-service training in technology use for the past 12 years.  

(Note: This page was written in 1999. Some information may be dated.)

Internet

By visiting this site, you already know something about the Internet. The focus of this section is on how you can use it for the benefit of your students and yourself.

A little history first, however. Back in the days of the Cold War when the United States feared a nuclear attack from Russia, a system of communication was developed that would allow messages to get from one computer to another even a section of the system was obliterated. The designers created a means for the computers to decide which way to route information a series of cables. Thus the term, Internet. Initially it was mostly a text-based system and used primarily by the military and colleges to share research data.

In the early 1990's, a group developed a way to display information graphically and rather than use hard to remember text commands, could now use the mouse to point and click to display information. Thus it was easy for the whole world to not only read information, but create it for others and the World Wide Web or the Information Super Highway began to take shape.

[For more Internet history check out Nancy Powell's "Living in the Times of Pioneers" exclusively in the Teachers Guide to Cyberspace--on sale now in TeachNet's store.]

Using a computer attached to the Internet and a web browser, the members of your class can find information on any topic imaginable. And they can post information for others to read from around the world. Talk about writing for a real purpose.

In the early days of the web, teachers were told it was similar to a library without a Dewey Decimal system, and while an over simplification, there was no way to categorize the thousands of pages that were already created and which were being added to everyday. Again, to meet a need, companies created programs which would help you find data.

These programs are called Search Engines. They come in two varieties: Categorical and Keyword Search. The categorical systems allow students to search through a series of menu items which start out broad in concept and with each new item, narrow the topic. The Keyword Searches have your students type in words or a topic, and the Search Engine displays all the places it knows that contain those words. Each has advantages and shortcomings.

Information is displayed on your screen by the web browser which interprets a computer language called Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). It is no longer necessary to learn the language, or code, as most web page authoring software is wysiwyg (what you see is what you get). Still html  is  easy for you and your children to learn. 

All web browsers allow you to see this "code" under the menu item "View Document Source." If you are interested in beginning to program for the Internet, looking at the source code is a very good place to begin.

After a file is created, it must be stored on a File Server which is somehow connected to the Internet. They are sent there through a process called File Transfer Protocol (FTP). This is a piece of software that is on your computer which sends all the graphic and text files to the server where it is made available to the world.

One last issue which you must be aware of is the copyright controversy. People who used the Internet initially felt that if it was on the "Net" it was free for the taking. More and more people are saying, "I will let you enjoy what I created, but it is still mine and you must have permission or pay a fee to use it." As a teacher, if you use the same standards for using and copying materials for classroom use that you do for books, pictures, movies, etc., you should not have a problem. This simply means you can use it for educational reasons in your room and you should give credit to the author. If something from the net specifically says, "Do not use without permission," don't do it.

The Internet and the World Wide Web are going to change schools and classrooms in the future. Learn to use search engines effectively and teach your children how to determine if information on a page they come across is useful or junk. I guess that is really what education has always been about. 

Introduction
Basics
Advanced Topics
Curriculum Development
E-mail
Graphics
Internet
LAN/WANs
Mac vs IBM
Printers & Copiers
Software
Students
TV/VCR
Word Processing

 

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