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Presentation by Virginia Montecino
April 10, 1997

Using the Internet in the Classroom

  • What is the Internet?
The Internet, originally the ARPAnet (Advanced Research Projects Agency network), began as a military computer network. Other government agencies and universities created internal networks based on the ARPAnet model. The catalyst for the Internet today was provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Rather than have a physical communications connection from each institution to a supercomputing center, the NSF began a "chain" of connections in which institutions would be connected to their "neighbor" computing centers, which all tied into central supercomputing centers. This beginning expanded to a global network of computer networks, which allows computers all over the world to communicate with one another and share information stored at various computer "servers," either on a local computer or a computer located anywhere in the world.

The Internet is not governed by any official body, but there are organizations which work to make the Internet more accessible and useful.

  • What is the World Wide Web (WWW)?
The WWW is an information service supported by a large portion of the Internet. The WWW, because it supports hypertext, which allows the user to access information in a non-linear manner. The non-linear "threads" of information can be accessed when the user selects highlighted text. This hypertext information, if made accessible, could reside on any computer linked to the Internet. The WWW, when used with a graphical interface, like Windows, can also access other forms of hypermedia, such as graphics, sound and video.
  • What is Hypertext ?
Hypertext is text that is non-sequential, produced by writing in HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) language. This HTML coding allows the information (text, graphics, sound, video) to be accessed using HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol).
  • What is a URL?
A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is an Internet address that generally begins with the "http://" symbol. URL addresses can be recognized by the "Domain Name." Domain Names are divided into categories such as:

.edu - for education sites
.gov - for government sites
.org - for organization sites
.com - for commercial sites
.net - for network infrastructures

URLs often end in the ".htm" or ".html" suffix, which is part of the code which allows the computer to read the information in hypertext form.

  • What do the different parts of a URL, divided by "/" symbols mean?
URL addresses are hierarchical. For example, the address:

"http://www.gmu.edu/facstaff/policy/administrative/60.html" broken down into its components is (from the lowest to highest): the file "University Policy #60" - Responsible Use of Computing ("60.html"), is linked in a web page called "University Administration Policies"("administrative"). The "University Administration Policies" page is linked on a web page called the "Faculty/Staff Information" ("facstaff"), which a link on MasonLink the GMU home page, which address is "www.gmu.edu."

Everyone who has a GMU mason computer account can publish her or his own home page (with hypertext links created by that individual or with links to other sites on the WWW). Companies and individuals can rent web space from commercial Internet providers.

  • Some ways to use the Internet for Teaching and Learning:
  • Web syllabus ("syllaweb") with links to various assignments, readings- Course material and assignments can always be available for student access
  • Web-based asynchronous class discussion forum-

  • - Can help build a learning community in large classes and can extend the classroom.
    - Discussion is asynchronous and archived. Each student can voice his or her opinion and be "heard" by the whole class.
  • Student assignments critiquing the validity of Web sites and information.
  • Student Internet research to find appropriate sources in their field or for a particular course.
  • Student publishing of classroom projects on the Web. Broadens sense of audience. Material easily accessible to share with whole class
  • Student posting of writing for peer and faculty review and response.
  • Teacher designed Web-based distance learning courses using Toolbook, Authorware and other software (including capability to use forms, on-line submission of tests answers, on-line essay submission) .
See other Teaching and Learning Resources.

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© Virginia Montecino 1995 - 2001