Introduction to the Internet Minicourse


Welcome to the Internet Minicourse. This is a class that will help you learn to use some of the many services available on the internet (the net). Colored and bold-faced words are the vocabulary words you will learn during this class. We will use them in discussions and exercises and then review them in a test at the end of the course.

What Is the Internet?

The internet is the name we use to identify a huge system of interconnected computer networks throughout the world. The internet offers many services that are useful to students. In this course, we will work with two of these services: e-mail,and the World Wide Web (WWW).

E-mail is the service that is used by the most people in the world. With e-mail, you can send letters and documents instantly from your computer, through telephone lines to any place in the world that has a computer, telephone service, and an e-mail connection to the net. During this class we will register you for e-mail, if you haven't registered yet, and communicate about the class by sending messages to each other.

The World Wide Web is an internet service used to find information about hundreds of different topics. WWW connects you to computer sites that have Webpages. Each webpage contains colorful computer graphics and a menu of its other connections. The first webpage at a site is called the Homepage.

The webpages function like tables of contents in books, but they have a very special characteristic. They have some words and phrases in a special kind of printing called hypertext, which is underlined or in a different color on the webpage. When you put the cursor on the hypertext words, the cursor will change into a pointing hand. Then, when you click the mouse, the computer will link you to another site with more information about that topic. Try it now with some of the hypertext words on this page.

As you discovered, the hypertext in this introduction connects to the glossary. So, if you don't understand any of the technical terms in hypertext, you can click on them and get instant definitions from the glossary. In addition, when you are on any webpage, you can click on the hypertext to receive more information about that topic or to connect to another site related to that topic. Hypertext and colorful graphics make the World Wide Web different from other services on the Internet.

In this class, we'll begin with the internet services on the ISU campus. We'll work with the ISU Homepage and then learn how to use the library computer network to find books and articles. After that, we'll use a browser (Netscape) and directories(Yahoo! Lycos, Infoseek, Excite, Alta Vista, and others) to find some interesting websites on the World Wide Web.

A browser is a program used to view and look through information on the Internet. A directory is used to search for information from huge databases of webpages. A directory lists information by category. You choose the general category that you want and continue looking through the levels to find more specific categories.

In addition to being directories, Alta Vista, Infoseek, Excite, Yahoo! and Lycos are search engines. Search engines are different from browsers and directories. Search engines are programs that run a search for you while you are waiting for the results. Hotbot is another search engine that may be useful to you. Webcrawler is an extremely powerful search engine, especially useful for doing any kind of research.

In this course, you will choose a topic to research, develop a search strategy, and then use Yahoo!,Webcrawler, and other directories and search engines to find webpages with information about your topic. Finally, you will make a list of websites that might be useful to you in your real future research.

Test Yourself

Would you like to test yourself on what you've just learned? Click here for Practice Internet Test 1

Reflective Learning

One important aspect of learning is reflection. Reflection means taking time to review and think about what you have learned during a course. Each unit in this course ends with a section called Reflect. Reflect is a space for you to type and e-mail me your thoughts and questions about the information in that unit. Let me know your ideas! I'll answer your questions by return e-mail.

Helen H. Schmidt
Instructor, Intensive English and Orientation Program
Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011, U.S.A.

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