Navigating the Journey
On any trip, you need a map with guideposts to navigate well. This section
offers some basics to help you begin to explore the World Wide Web and
communicate with others on the Internet.
Surfing the Net or Cruising the Superhighway
When you go on the Internet, you may have a specific destination in
mind, or you may wish to browse through the Web, the way you would browse
through a library or a catalog, looking for topics or things that interest
you. This browsing is often called surfing the Net or cruising the Superhighway.
There are several ways to get around on the Web.
- Using Web addresses. To get to a special destination,
such as one of the sites described in Sites Along
the Way, you'll type in an internet address in the space
provided on the Web browser. Web addresses, sometimes called uniform
resource locators (URL), begin with http://, which stands for hypertext
transfer protocol. After you type in the Web address, it may take
awhile for the site's home page to appear on the screen, especially
if it includes many pictures. Once it does, you'll probably see several
choices you can click your mouse on to take you further into the site.
(If you type in an address incorrectly, or too many people are trying
to use a site at once, you'll get an error message on your computer
screen. Just try again).
- Following links. Many sites include hypertext
links to other sites with related content. When you click on one
of these highlighted areas, your computer will connect to another Web
site without your having to know or type its address.
- Using search engines. Search engines are
programs that you can select from your Web browser to enable you to
search the Internet by keywords or topics. If you or your child are
interested in finding out more about Jackie Robinson, for example, you
can click on a search engine, enter his name, then pull up several Web
sites for further exploration.
| Using the Internet To Do a School Project
Assignment: Write a 2-3 page essay on the life of Jackie Robinson.
Include facts about his life, his greatest accomplishments, and
why you believe he deserves a place in history.
Here's how you can find the information to do this project:
- Sign onto the Internet; once connected, click the
mouse on the search key.
- From the menu, select a search engine based
on your topic. (Here we have selected AltaVista).
- At the subject box, type in Jackie Robinson and click
on the search key.
- Review search results: "Found 1 category and 19
site matches for Jackie Robinson."
- Select one or all site matches (all sites are underlined).
Each site has additional sites for more information.
- Print or download all the information you need for
- Use this information to write your report.
Examples of search engines include:
Yahooligans (for children)
You can find these search engines and many more at the All-in-One site
or your web browser's home page. If a search on one doesn't produce
good results, try another.
- Using bookmarks. As you look through the Internet,
you'll probably find sites you'll want to revisit. If so, you can create
a bookmark by saving the address on your computer, usually
with just a click of the mouse. The help feature on your Web browser
can give you specific instructions. When you want to return to the site,
you'll just click its address on your list.
Saving Information from the Internet
In your travels on the Internet, you'll probably come across information
you want to keep. You can either make a paper or "hard" copy
directly from the Web, or you can download a copy of the information
onto your own computer.
- Printing a copy. While you're looking at the information
you wish to print, you can click on the print command or icon,
and the printer connected to the computer will print a copy for you.
Using the mouse, you can also highlight the information you would like
to print and click on the print command or icon. Text usually prints
quickly, but graphics can take a long time. If you don't need the images,
you may wish to check your online help feature to see how to remove
them before printing.
- Downloading a copy. If you'd like to be able to use
the information you've found on the Internet on your own computer (perhaps
to include it in a report or send it by e-mail to someone else), you
can use your mouse to click on a command or icon to download it. Be
careful, though. When you travel online, you can bring back viruses,
programs that can destroy your personal files and software. For protection,
it's important to buy--and regularly update--an anti-virus program.
For added safety, download files and e-mail messages to a disk and do
a virus check before copying the information to the hard drive inside
The most popular online activity is communicating with individuals and
e-mail, listserv, and Usenet newsgroups.
| Important: It's a good safety precaution to make
up names and never use your real name in order to make it difficult
for strangers to contact you and other family members by phone or
- Listservs. You can use e-mail to participate in discussion
groups focused on topics that interest you. When you put your name on
a listserv, you can read all the messages sent to members of
the group, and you, too, can send messages to the entire group. Each
group has an administrator who sets the rules for how the group will
operate. If the listserv is moderated, the administrator will also keep
the discussion on track and make sure participants treat each other
courteously, or follow Netiquette. A list of listservs and
the e-mail addresses for subscribing to them is available from http://www.liszt.com/.
- Usenet newsgroups. Usenet is a system of thousands
of special interest groups that allows people to post messages for anyone
else to read. Readers can respond by posting a general message or sending
an e-mail to the author of an earlier message. Unlike listservs, usenet
newsgroups do not require people to subscribe; however, newsgroups
must be registered with Usenet. You can probably find newsgroups through
your Internet Service Provider. Most ISPs let you search for newsgroups
that interest you by using keywords. Try "parenting," for
example. Because Usenet newsgroup messages can take up a lot of space,
ISPs aren't able to carry all newsgroups. If you know of a newsgroup
that you can't find through your ISP, ask to see whether it can be added.
Caution: Most newsgroups are not moderated; no one
keeps the discussion focused on the topic or exercises control over inappropriate
behavior. Some topics are not suitable for children.
| Children with Special Needs
Children with special needs can often benefit from the use of
assistive technology to support communication, self-expression and
positive social interaction. Parents and teachers tell stories of
children who overcome obstacles and achieve success online--the
child with a writing disability who wins second place in a nationwide
writing contest or the teenager with a learning disability who becomes
an electronic pen pal with a scientist across the country who shares
his fascination with fossils
Technology is available to help people with special needs. If
your child has a mobility or sensory impairment, for example, you
may decide to replace the mouse with another device for giving the
computer commands. A joystick, for instance, can be controlled with
the entire hand. Other devices require only a single finger for
control. Magnifying the screen can help individuals with low vision,
while voice synthesis technology can read screen information to
those who are blind.
The ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education operated
by the Council for Exceptional Children offers information about
disabilities and accommodations. Call 1-800-328-0272 or TTY 703-264-9449,
send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org,
or visit the Web site http://ericec.org
Other Web sites are also helpful. For example, Winners on Wheels
is a team-oriented youth program that uses learning and fun to promote
self-esteem and independence in children with disabilities http://www.wowusa.com/.
which provides information on adaptive computer technology for individuals
with disabilities. Starbright, another site, applies the latest
advancement in technology to positively affect the lives of disabled
This page last updated December 15, 1998 (gkp)
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