Lesson Description: Internet Basics
The Internet is a vast resource of information. In this lesson you will be exploring the World Wide Web, a significant portion of the Internet. This lesson introduces you to terminology used to describe Internet functions and features and it helps you the build basic skills to navigate through the World Wide Web.

Activities:     Learn the history of the Internet and become familiar with terminology Practice basic navigation skills using a “browser” Explore the Allegheny County Web site ( Explore the Yahoo Website (

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Section One: Internet History and Terminology

What is the Internet?  The Internet is a huge network of networks. A network is a number of computers connected so that they may communicate with one another and share information. The Internet is made up of millions of networks and home computers connected worldwide. The Internet is made up of different types of spaces. You can think of the Internet the way you might imagine a library. A library is filled with different spaces for different materials (books, CDs, tapes, magazines, newspapers, etc.) and different activities (story hours, meeting rooms, public forums, staff offices.) Some resources are old and some are new. The same is true of the Internet. The most popular space within the Internet is the World Wide Web (WWW) and it is expanding at an astronomical rate. Because of its popularity and tremendous growth, the terms Internet and World Wide Web are sometimes used interchangeably.


 Questions:  What was your concept of the World Wide Web (Internet) before you came to this class?  The World Wide Web is more than just a place to get information. It is also a place to publish information and to interact with others. What uses can you see for those aspects of the WWW? A Very Brief History of the Internet 1961: The Proposal of the Packet Switching Network emerges. Packet switching is the concept of breaking down data into packets, which are transmitted across the network. If one of the Packets gets lost along the way, another packet can be sent. 1969: ARPANET commissioned by the Department of Defense. The digital communication network was set up so that packets of information could be routed along various communication lines. In the case of enemy attack, information could get through even though some lines might be cut. This was the forerunner of what we now call the Internet. 1972: E-Mail program is invented to send messages across a network. 1982: The first definition of “Internet” as a connected set of networks. The network is based on a system called TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol) 1991: Tim Berners Lee develops the WWW and is released by the CERN laboratory 1991: MOSAIC, the first WWW browser is released 1995: RealAudio technology is released, dial-up systems begin to provide Internet access for home use (America Online, CompuServe and Prodigy).
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Section Two: Basic Web Browser Skills

What is a Web browser? A web browser is a software application that allows users to access and then to navigate through web sites that have both text and graphics. Most web browsers also give users the ability to view video files and listen to audio files. Two of the most popular browsers are Netscape and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. There are many ways to navigate the web using a browser. We will explore these: a) Hyperlinks, b) Toolbars, and c) Using URL’s

Activities:  Click on the web browser (Netscape or Internet Explorer) icon on your desktop. Although Netscape and Microsoft Internet Explorer are slightly different, the basic concepts are the same for each. The activities in this lesson can be completed on either browser. However, the illustrations will be from Internet Explorer.  When you click on a web browser button, you are connected to the software, but what you see on the screen in this lab may be slightly different than what you see on your friend’s computer or the computer at the public library. That is because the owner of a computer can set preferences for what the screen will look like when you click on the browser. At the public library, the library’s home page comes up. At a friend’s house, they may have selected anything from a home shopping network home page to Yahoo to a sports home page for the screen visual.  No matter what is in the center of the screen, it is the top tool bar that counts when it comes to navigating. If you are in a browser, there will always be a tool bar to use.  Look for hyperlinks.

Hyperlinks Hyperlinks are one of the reasons the Internet is a powerful resource. The “links” are indicated by highlighted and/or underlined text. Hyperlinks connect you to another resource (such as another Web site, a document, an image, etc.). Remember the overall concept of the Internet being a network of computer networks. A computer language called HTML allows anyone to create links between various computer networks and computer files. HTML is the language used to build the hyperlinks. A hyperlink doesn’t have to be text. It may be an image or a “button.” Slide the mouse around and watch the cursor. Usually it is an arrow. When it turns into a hand, you have located a hyperlink.


Before you click on a hyperlink, ask your student assistant to show you the “back button” (sometimes it is an arrow) in the upper left hand corner of the screen. After you click on a hyperlink, click on the “back button” to get you back to the main page. Take a few moments to click on hyperlinks and then practice using the back button to get back to the main page.
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This is an interval when class participants may click on any hyperlink just to explore where the connections take them. The old term “surfing the net” has its roots in this seemingly aimless, but fun activity of following one link to another. A person can discover great things just by drifting around, but it isn’t necessarily the best way to use the web because it consumes a lot of time. Later in the series of lessons we will show you ways to find information you need quickly and accurately. Questions:  What did you discover about hyperlinks? What difficulties did you encounter? Activities:  Look at the top of your screen for what is called the toolbar
Stop Home Bookmark Print

Refresh Back Forward

The Back Button takes you to the previous page you were viewing. Back allows you to retrace your steps, one page at a time The Forward Button takes you forward one page at a time. This button only works if you have used the Back Button first. The Stop Button interrupts the browser searching. When the browser is taking too long to connect to a page, click on the Stop Button to interrupt the process. This will stop the action and allow you to continue your session. The Home Button returns you to the home page which has been designated for the computer you are using. The Reload or Refresh Button tells the computer to “refresh” the page. It reloads the page from the server. The Print Button prints the document you are currently viewing. Remember that the document may be much bigger than you think. You may get much more printed than the screen you are viewing. The Bookmark or Favorites Button is an excellent way to keep track of sites you would like to revisit. On public machines such as a public library, this list may not be accessible, but on a home machine this is a short cut to your favorite sites.
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Activities:  Look at the top of your screen for the browser menu bar

If you click on one of the words above, a menu pops up to give you options on how to use parts of the browser. We will not explore all the menu items in this session, as there are so many options. However, we call your attention to two useful tools for navigating:  The Go Menu keeps track of where you have been during your online session. Whenever you wish to return to a place you have been, use the History option under the Go Menu.  The View Menu gives you some options if you are having trouble reading the screen. There is an entry for “Increase Font” which will make the words bigger on the screen.  The Edit Menu has some of the same features as a word processor (such as Undo, Cut, Copy, Paste) but it also helps you in some search processes.

 Using URL’s In the lesson so far, we have followed hyperlinks to see where they have linked us to other web pages. Now we will use a portion of the web browser to be more efficient in gathering information. Perhaps you have seen web addresses on TV, in magazines and in the newspapers. Most of the address begin with “www” and lead you to a computer or a computer network featuring information about products, services or concepts. Those addresses are called “URL’s.” The letters stand for “Uniform Resource Locator.” Understanding the parts of a URL can help you detect what type of web site you intend to visit. A web address has two main components: the protocol and the domain. The protocol is the agreed upon standard for servers to use in transmitting data. The domain indicates where the web site is located.  Look at the URL for the Pittsburgh Steelers:

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The “http://” tells computers how they are going to share and exchange information. The http stands for hypertext transfer protocol. (In most browsers you do not have to type in the http:// portion of the URL because the browser assumes that will be the protocol.)

is the location of the web site, or the domain

Types of sites: .com Commerical/Business .edu Educational Institution .org Non-profit organization .net Internet resource or network .mil Military .gov Government agency There are now some new conventions for domain names. For example, Allegheny County, which is a governmental agency, has this web site URL:

Here is the location on the browser page where you can type in a URL:

  

Click the mouse in the long white bar and make sure the cursor is blinking. (That means the computer is ready to accept information.) Type in this URL: Before you press enter, can you guess where the URL may take you?

A Few Notes About Typing in URL’s   There are no blank spaces in a web address. Be careful of misspellings. If you don’t get to the site you expected, double check to make sure you have letters and slashes (and other characters such as an underscore) in the exact order. There is no dot (.) at the end of a web address


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Questions:   After typing in the URL’s listed in this lesson and ones your student assistant may suggest, what discoveries have you made about this aspect of a web browser? Are there questions about URL’s you would like to bring before the class or to the instructor?

Section Four: Putting the Browser Skills to Work It is time for an Internet Scavenger Hunt. The answers can be found at one of two web sites. This is your chance to experiment with your new skills. If you complete the exercises before the end of class, ask your student assistant for other web sites to explore. Using the web address: 1. According to Yahoo, what is one of the top news headlines of the day? 2. Using one of the links near the top of the Yahoo page, find the price for a 2004 Ford Focus. 3. Usually several are listed, but what is one of the flight destinations in Yahoo’s travel section called “Specials”? What is the price? 4. Where would you click on the Yahoo page to find information about arthritis? Using the web address: 1. What is the weather forecast for tomorrow? 2. What is the phone number and email address of the mayor’s office? 3. Find pictures of flowers at Phipps Conservatory.

This lesson was made possible with funding from the National Science Foundation, award number EIA-0113718, "ITR/PE: Digital Citizenship: Expanding Information Technology Literacy with a Service-Learning Approach"

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