Why Use Internet in the Classroom?
As an experienced teacher, you already have lessons that work well
for the age you teach and the topics you cover. To evaluate whether
using the Internet will enhance your classroom practice, consider
1. Would digital images help students understand a concept or topic?
For example, could they use the Web to see images of black holes
in space, historic photographs, artwork, or to look at satellite
imaging or MRI scans? (On some sites, "objects" can be manipulated
or rotated, so students can see them from different angles. Would
this help students with a difficult concept?)
2. Does the lesson require collecting and analyzing data and building
3. Does the lesson refer to time-related data, such as the changing
stock market, the annual rainfall of a region, or the migration
4. Can the impact of the lesson be enhanced through students communicating
via email with peers in other cities, or other cultures, or through
contact with "experts" in a field?
5. Will students be asked to create and conduct surveys, make presentations,
conduct in-depth research, or work in teams?
"yes" to any of these, and you'll want to explore how you can put
the Internet to work in your classroom.
Used well, the Internet is a great tool for inquiry-based learning.
The Internet is particularly well-suited for:
- Communication and collaboration
- Real-time data collection
- Web publishing
Communication and collaboration are particularly exciting for students
using the Internet. Students can set up keypals (email pen pals)
to connect with peers around the country and the globe. Students
can correspond with experts in various fields via e-mail. E-mail
activities are a good way to get started on the Internet, as they
require minimal planning. However, be sure to contact your "experts"
ahead of time to find out how long it will take them to respond.
Students can also communicate in real-time through online conferencing.
For this, online chat rooms are popular with students and teachers.
Audio and video conferencing using software such as DigiPhone (NetPhone)
and CU-SeeMe create even more exciting educational opportunities.
These software products are reviewed in CNET Reviews of Conferencing
Programs. Be sure to plan ahead for online sessions, especially
if you're working with schools in different time zones.
Collaborative projects go beyond simple communication. Students
might work with expedition teams, solve problems by collecting or
exchanging information, and create and respond to questions. (See
Web Quests, below.)
Web is great for research projects, as it enables students to gather
detailed information that might otherwise be difficult to find.
Keep in mind that searching the Web works best with upper level
students, who can better evaluate the usefulness of their search
results. Also, Web research is better for individual rather than
group projects, and is easier if each student has access to a computer.|
With the Internet, students can engage in real-time data collection
in ways that were once impossible. They can collect scientific data
updated continuously by scientists at work, thereby using the same
methods as researchers and scientists, analyzing the same data and
sharing their conclusions either on- or off-line. Students can conduct
research using large and geographically varied samples. They learn
to analyze trends, correlations, and causality. When real-time data
is used, students see the relationship between their studies and
the real world.
Web publishing is the design and upkeep of Web pages. These days, many students know the basics of Web publishing. As a classroom project, however, Web publishing takes time and planning. Be sure
that you're quite familiar with the Internet and the online tools
required to create and maintain Web pages before you begin. Also,
it helps to have access to multiple computers. Check out the Web
pages of other schools at Web66: International School Web Site Registry
(web66.coled.umn.edu/schools.html) for design and layout ideas.
Students are very enthusiastic about these projects, and they can
be well worth the effort.