Network Working Group J. Sellers
Request for Comments: 1941 Sterling Software/NASA IITA
FYI: 22 J. Robichaux
Obsoletes: 1578 InterNIC
Category: Informational May 1996 Frequently Asked Questions for Schools
Status of This Memo
This memo provides information for the Internet community. This memo
does not specify an Internet standard of any kind. Distribution of
this memo is unlimited.
The goal of this FYI document, produced by the Internet School
Networking (ISN) group in the User Services Area of the Internet
Engineering Task Force (IETF), is to act as an introduction to the
Internet for faculty, administration, and other school personnel in
primary and secondary schools. The intended audience is educators who
are recently connected to the Internet, who are accessing the
Internet by some means other than a direct connection, or who are
just beginning to consider Internet access as a resource for their
schools. Although the Internet Engineering Task Force is an
international organization and this paper will be valuable to
educators in many countries, it is limited in focus to
internetworking in the United States.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction................................................... 22. Acknowledgments................................................ 33. Questions About the Internet in an Educational Setting......... 34. Questions About Getting the Internet into the School........... 75. Questions About Using Internet Services........................ 176. Questions About Classroom Resources, Projects, & Collaboration. 217. Questions About Security and Ethics............................ 258. Suggested Reading.............................................. 299. Resources and Contacts......................................... 3110. References.................................................... 5011. Security Considerations....................................... 5112. Authors' Addresses............................................ 51
Appendix A: Glossary of Terms Used in this Document............... 52
Appendix B: Ways to Get Requests for Comments (RFCs).............. 60
Appendix C: Examples of Educational Projects Using the Internet... 61
As more and more schools begin using technology to achieve
educational goals, access to the worldwide network of computer
networks known as the Internet is expanding. Help for schools in the
form of printed materials, electronic resources, and people is also
expanding. The Internet School Networking (ISN) group of the Internet
Engineering Task Force (IETF) remains committed to articulating the
advantages of Internet connections for schools and providing
solutions to the challenges schools face in getting connected. The
FYI (For Your Information) series, which is a subset of the IETF-
produced RFCs (Requests for Comments) is one way to achieve these
goals. (See Appendix A, "Glossary of Terms Used in This Document" for
further explanation of "FYI" and "RFC.")
While the IETF and ISN are international groups, the authors of this
document are experienced only in bringing the Internet to schools in
the United States. We are aware that culture and the national economy
effect how one views the issues surrounding school networking. (To
give just one example, in the United States, educational reform is an
important reason for schools to get connected to the Internet. Other
countries may not have the same incentive to transform the teacher's
role to more of a guide toward knowledge and less of a sole provider
of information.) So, while this document may have a U.S. flavor, we
feel that the focus will not prevent it from being useful to those in
Some of the questions educators have about the Internet are of a more
general nature, and for those we recommend reading FYI 4, "Answers to
Commonly Asked 'New Internet User' Questions." (For information on
how to get this and other IETF documents of interest to the general
Internet user, See Appendix B, "Ways to Get RFCs.")
Remember that the Internet is a changing environment. Although we
have tried to include only the most stable of network services and
contacts, you may still find that something listed is unavailable or
has changed. The positive side of this constant change is that you
will discover much on your own, and some of what you discover will be
new since the writing of this document.
This is an update of an earlier document (FYI 22/RFC 1578, "Answers
to Commonly Asked 'Primary and Secondary School Internet User'
Questions"), and renders that document obsolete. If future updates
are produced, the RFC number will change again, and the FYI number
(22) will remain the same.
In addition to Ronald Elliott, Klaus Fueller, Raymond Harder, Ellen
Hoffman, William Manning, April Marine, Michael Newell, and Anthony
Rutkowski, all of whom contributed to the first version of this
document, we would like to thank Sepideh Boroumand, Sandy Dueck, Jeff
Gong, Bill Grenoble, Pat Kaspar, Ed Klein, Yermo Lamers, Gary Malkin,
April Marine, Michael Newell, and Jan Wee for their invaluable
suggestions and contributions to this version. Thanks also to Nathan
Hickson for checking each of the entries in the formidable Section 9.
3. Questions About the Internet in an Educational Setting
3.1 What is the Internet?
The Internet is a large and rapidly growing worldwide network
comprised of smaller computer networks, all linked by a common
protocol, that enables computers of different types to exchange
information. The networks are owned by countless commercial,
research, government, and education organizations and individuals.
The Internet allows the almost 5 million computers  and countless
users of the system to collaborate easily and quickly either in pairs
or in groups. Users are able to discover and access people and
information, distribute information, and experiment with new
technologies and services. The Internet has become a major global
infrastructure used for education, research, professional learning,
public service, and business.
There is a confusing variety of types of Internet access. These types
of access are distinguished either by the services one can use
(telnet, Gopher, FTP or File Transfer Protocol, World Wide Web) or by
the technology underlying the access (the protocol, or rules the
computers must follow in order to communicate with one another). The
Internet is most clearly defined by its technology, but other
technologies now offer access to many of the same Internet services,
most notably electronic mail and the World Wide Web. The most
important question for a user today is probably not "Am I on the
Internet?" but "Do I have access to the Internet services I want?"
See Section 5, "Questions About Using Internet Services," for further
discussion of telnet, Gopher, FTP, the World Wide Web, and electronic
While there is no official governing body of the Internet, the
Internet Society serves as the international organization for
Internet cooperation and coordination. See Section 9, "Resources and
Contacts" for Internet Society contact information.
For a more complete basic introduction to the Internet, see FYI 20,
"What is the Internet?" cited in Section 8, "Suggested Reading." For
information on how to retrieve FYI documents produced by the Internet
Engineering Task Force, see Appendix B, "Ways to Get RFCs."
3.2 What are the benefits of using the Internet in the classroom?
The Internet is an exciting classroom resource. It expands the
classroom dramatically by delivering information, data, images, and
even computer software from places otherwise impossible to reach, and
it does this almost instantly. This access to up-to-the-minute
information can make a student's education more relevant. Some of
these materials are original sources which are too expensive or in
other ways difficult for schools to own. Some information is news
unfiltered by mass media, requiring students to critically assess its
content and value.
But the Internet is not strictly a place from which to gather
something. It is also a place to communicate, to make contact with
people all over the world. The Internet brings into the classroom
experts in every content area, new and old friends, and colleagues in
education. And it allows students and teachers to leave the classroom
by sharing ideas with people far away. The isolation inherent in the
teaching profession is well-known among educators. By having Internet
access to colleagues in other parts of the world, as well as to those
who work outside of classrooms, educators are not as isolated.
Your site can become a valuable source of information as well.
Consider the expertise in your school which could be shared with
others around the world. For guidance in finding schools with a
presence on the Internet, see Section 9, "Resources and Contacts."
Use of the Internet shifts focus away from a teacher-as-expert model
and toward one of shared responsibility for learning, making it a
vital part of school reform. Many reform efforts attempt to move away
from teacher isolation and toward teacher collaboration, away from
learning in a school-only context and toward learning in a life
context, away from an emphasis on knowing and toward an emphasis on
learning, away from a focus on content and toward a focus on concepts
. The Internet can play an integral part in helping to achieve
these shifts, since it is well-suited for use as a project resource.
Information on the Internet, as in the rest of the world outside the
classroom, is not divided into separate disciplines such as geometry,
writing, geography, or painting.
As a hands-on classroom tool, the use of the Internet encourages the
kind of independence and autonomy that many educators agree is
important to the learning process. Internet use itself can also be a
motivator for students. Additionally, because class, race, ability,
and disability are removed as factors in communication while using
the Internet, it is a natural tool for addressing the needs of all
There are a number of resources you can use to convince others of the
benefits of the Internet in the classroom. The NASA IITA (National
Aeronautics and Space Administration Information Infrastructure
Technology and Applications) K-12 Internet Initiative has produced an
11-minute video describing the benefits to schools in using the
Internet. Its title is "Global Quest: The Internet in the
Classroom." Another video appropriate for a mixed audience of
stakeholders is "Experience the Power: Network Technology for
Education," produced by the National Center for Education Statistics
in the U.S. Department of Education. Several articles appearing in
various periodicals make a strong case for using the Internet in the
classroom. A particularly good one by Al Rogers of the Global
SchoolNet Foundation is called, "Global Literacy in a Gutenberg
Culture." Student essays can also give compelling testimony. For
information on the Rogers article, see Section 8, "Suggested
Reading." Some student essays can be found on NASA's Quest server
listed in Section 9, "Resources and Contacts," as can information on
3.3 Will using the Internet replace teachers?
Just as textbooks, periodicals, videos, guest speakers, and field
trips are often used to support a curriculum, the Internet can be
used as a tool for teaching and learning. This does not mean that it
must be the sole instructional method in a classroom. Teachers will
remain responsible for making educated and informed decisions about
the best way to use the Internet as a tool, just as they do with
other materials used in the classroom. They can also use the Internet
to individualize student learning, making a student's classroom
experiences more relevant.
3.4 Will this technology replace books?
There is room in any school for all kinds of materials and resources.
Books and other print materials will certainly continue to be
important. Internet resources have the advantage of tying together
information from all over the globe, making them useful research
tools. As mentioned before, they can also provide up-to-the-minute
information and are therefore particularly relevant. In addition, you
may be able to engage an expert in a dialog that clarifies or updates
what you find in published materials.
One factor to consider is that much of the material published on the
Internet lacks the authority imputed by an established publishing
house or a reputable author, and may therefore be viewed as less
reliable than books. For example, an encyclopedia or almanac found in
a school library might reasonably be accepted as valid without
question, while a source found on the Internet may require a more
critical look. However, lack of authority is not always a negative.
Reading an account of the fall of the Berlin Wall by a student in the
local region the day it happened can be valuable even if the student
is not a reputable author. Moreover, while it's true that with
Internet materials it becomes increasingly important to evaluate
where they came from, one of the hallmarks of a good education is the
ability to assess information critically, whether the source be
print, television, or some other media.
3.5 How can use of the Internet be integrated into the existing
This is a key question. In order for the Internet to be used
successfully in schools, it must be employed as a tool to teach
content and to reach educational goals that have already been
established. It cannot be seen as an end in itself.
Individual teachers will first need to become familiar enough with
the Internet to know how to do at least two things: find information
on topics they consider important and locate people with like
educational goals. Sections 5 and 6, "Questions About Using Internet
Services" and "Questions About Classroom Resources, Projects, and
Collaboration" will give you some ideas about how to begin.
Once they are familiar with how to find content on the Internet, most
teachers can decide how to use Internet resources to help their
students meet goals. For example, science teachers often teach about
hurricanes and other weather phenomena in the normal course of
instruction. With Internet access they can use information and
satellite data pertaining to the most recent storm to make their
points, rather than outdated examples from textbooks.
When teachers become familiar with finding other people on the
Internet, some of them already grouped into network "communities" of
interest, they can gain experience in using the Internet from
educators who have been using it longer; they can join existing
projects, contribute to the evolution of proposed projects, and
propose their own projects; and they can ask for and give help to
solve problems in the classroom ranging from the content they teach,
to addressing students as individuals, to mastering effective
Internet access supports project-based learning. A teacher in an
individual classroom can use the data and information available on
the Internet as a resource for classroom projects, and there are also
a variety of projects which take place over the Internet in more than
one classroom at a time. A project may be initiated by any educator
with an idea. A popular example of an educator-initiated project is
one which requires data to be collected from diverse sites around the
world or at least around the country. For example, together students
in various locations have tracked butterfly and bird migrations,
compared bodies of water, and measured the north-south circumference
of the Earth. Various organizations also run projects in which
schools can participate. Among the many groups which have invited
schools to participate in projects with a focus on a specific topic
are the Global SchoolNet Foundation, The European Schools Project,
the International Educational and Research Network (I*EARN), and
groups associated with such federal agencies as the Department of
Energy, the United States Geological Survey, and the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration.
The Internet can also be used for peer review of student materials;
as a medium for publishing student newspapers, art exhibits, and
science fairs; and in a global email pen-pal program for the
discussion of classroom topics.
It cannot be stressed enough that the key factor these Internet uses
have in common is that they are supporting classroom curriculum, not
Learning about the Internet and how to use it is an important goal
for any school's Internet program, but in the classroom, the message
needs to be emphasized over the medium.
There are several sources of material for discussing curriculum
infusion, including mailing lists, World Wide Web sites, and archives
of sample lesson plans. Most of the mail lists, Internet computers,
and organizations in Section 9, "Resources and Contacts," address
infusion of technology into the curriculum. See also Appendix C,
"Examples of Educational Projects Using the Internet."
4. Questions About Getting the Internet into the School
4.1 How much does it cost to connect to the Internet, and what kind of
equipment does my school need to support the Internet connection?
The cost of an Internet connection varies tremendously with the
location of your site and the kind of connection that is appropriate
to your needs. In order to determine the cost to your school, you
will need to answer a number of questions. For help in learning what
the questions are and getting answers to them, begin asking at local
colleges, universities, technology companies, government agencies,
community networks (often called "FreeNets"), local electronic
bulletin board systems (BBS), Internet access providers, or
technology consultants. See also Question 4.6.
To give you an idea of possible cost and equipment needs, think of
four groups of Internet users. We will call them basic individual
users, advanced individual users, school networks, and school
How you approach acquiring service depends on which category you feel
best describes your needs. This discussion is based on experiences in
the United States. (For more information on the Internet services
you'll be reading about in this section, see Section 5, "Questions
About Using Internet Services.")
Basic users are individuals who want to access common Internet
services such as the World Wide Web, Gopher, and email. There are two
types of basic users: those who plan to be online for a few hours per
week, and those who plan to be online for many hours per day.
Basic individual users who require access to common Internet services
such as Web pages, FTP sites, and email for only a few hours per week
may be best served by one of the nationwide online services such as
America Online, CompuServe, or Prodigy. These services have the
advantage of providing the user with a simple setup and easy,
graphics-based access screens which hide the complex commands
required by some Internet services. They also provide value-added
services not available via the general Internet, such as access to
news magazines and encyclopedias. Hardware required is generally a
standard Windows-based PC or Macintosh and a 14.4 kilobits per second
(Kbs) or higher modem. At the time of this writing, prices typically
run around $10 per month for the first 5 hours of connect time, and
$2-4 per hour thereafter.
Basic individual users who access common Internet services for many
hours per day should consider a "shell" account from a local Internet
Service Provider (ISP). Shell accounts generally provide access to a
Unix computer which is connected to the Internet, so those choosing
this option should be prepared to learn a few Unix commands. Shell
account users will get all the standard Internet services but at a
cheaper rate, generally in the $30 per month range for 6 hours per
day access plus $1-2 per hour for extra hours. Most shell account
vendors do not provide nationwide access, and shell accounts do not
have graphical user interfaces, so you cannot use Web browsers such
as Netscape and Mosaic. While you may be able to use Lynx, a text-
based browser, some ISPs do not install it on their computer servers.
Many FreeNets also offer shell account access gratis, but they may
not be able to offer much support.
In the United States, there are a number of statewide educational
networks, most of them with access to the Internet. To find out if
there is a state education network in your area which gives basic
user accounts to educators and/or students, contact the Consortium
for School Networking (CoSN) or consult the document "Getting US
Educators Online" by Linda Conrad, listed in Section 8, "Suggested
Advanced individual users are those who want graphical user
interfaces to Internet services and who may want to use their
computers to offer services to other Internet users. For example,
they may want to create Web pages for others to access or put files
online for others to retrieve. If you are an advanced user, you might
consider getting a Serial Line Internet Protocol (SLIP) or Point to
Point Protocol (PPP) account from an Internet Service Provider. The
interface is similar to that of nationwide online services available
to basic users, but the performance is better and the cost is less
for someone who wants to use the service for more than just a few
hours per week.
Setting up a SLIP or PPP account requires configuration and
installation of Internet and SLIP/PPP software. Some ISPs only
provide the software, some will install the software for you, and
some preconfigure the software and send it on disk, with instructions
to the user, via postal mail. Again, hardware required is generally
a standard Windows-based PC or Macintosh and a 14.4 Kbs or higher
modem. Costs are generally comparable to basic shell accounts, but
for 24-hour connections expect to pay $100 or more per month.
If in your school you plan to have more than a few individual
Internet users, you will need to consider a network with a high-speed
dedicated line connected to the Internet. This school network is
probably a small- or medium-sized network in a single building or a
very few geographically close buildings. It may include only one or
Most high speed connectivity is provided through a dedicated leased
line, which is a permanent connection between two points. This allows
you to have a high quality permanent Internet connection at all
times. Most leased lines are provided by a telephone company, a cable
television company, or a private network provider and cost $200 per
month or more. Typically the connection from your LAN or LANs is a
digital leased line with a Channel Service Unit/Data Service Unit
(CSU/DSU) which costs between $600 and $1000. Less frequently, the
connection is an analog leased line with a modem which costs between
$200 and $800. You will also need a router which costs roughly $1500.
This is a substantially more difficult setup to manage. After you
have determined the ways in which you believe you will use Internet
access, you should contact several ISPs in your area and compare
prices and services.
School district networks are even more complex. If you have several
locations which require connectivity, you should contact several ISPs
and get bids for the service.
The ISP world is changing very rapidly, especially at the low end. At
the time of the first edition of this document, local ISPs were rare,
small, and fairly expensive. At the time of this writing ISPs abound,
offering a wide variety of services at reasonable prices.
Additionally, several groups are working on low-cost solutions to
school networking. Subscribe to the mail lists in Section 9,
"Resources and Contacts," to keep abreast of new developments.
"Getting US Educators Online" and "Connecting to the Internet: An
O'Reilly Buyer's Guide" by Susan Estrada are both listed in Section
8, "Suggested Reading." Other books about the Internet and how to get
connected to it are available and new ones are being published. Check
libraries, bookstores, and booksellers' catalogs. Two lists of
Internet providers available via the World Wide Web can be found in
Section 9, "Resources and Contacts" along with the Consortium for
School Networking. The global regional Network Information Centers
(NICs) such as the Reseaux IP Europeens Network Coordination Centre
(RIPE NCC) in Europe can also provide a list of service providers.
The Asia Pacific Network Information Center (APNIC) in the Pacific
Rim will have a similar list in the near future. These two NICs are
listed in Section 9, "Resources and Contacts."
4.2 What are the other costs associated with having Internet access?
When budgeting for your school's Internet connection there are a
number of factors to consider that might not seem immediately
obvious. Technical support and training will incur additional ongoing
costs, even if those costs show up only as someone's time. Equipment
will need to be maintained and upgraded as time passes, and even when
all teachers have received basic Internet training, they will most
likely have questions as they explore and learn more on their own. A
general rule for budget planning is this: for every dollar you spend
on hardware and software, plan to spend three dollars to support the
technology and those using it.
It will be necessary for your school to have some technical expertise
on-site. (See also Question 4.4.) Your network access provider may
offer training and support for technical issues, and other groups
also offer formal classes and seminars. If your school has designated
technical personnel, they will be good candidates for such classes
and seminars. If your school does not have designated technical
personnel, a teacher or other staff member with a strong interest may
take on the task of becoming the local expert, but a better solution
is to have someone dedicated to this at least part time. Students can
help local experts maintain equipment and do other tasks, which
allows them to learn new skills at the same time.
Training is an equally significant component to deployment of the
Internet in schools. Most teachers learn about the Internet during
the time they use to learn about any new teaching tool, which often
means they "steal" time at lunch, on weekends, and before and after
school to explore resources and pursue relationships via the
Internet. When a school is committed to providing the Internet as an
educational resource, the administration will make in-service time
available. It will also ensure that someone at the school is
sufficiently knowledgeable to field questions and help people as they
risk trying new ways of teaching using Internet resources. Again,
some students make excellent tutors.
Some technical support and a variety of training materials can be
found by using the Internet itself. You can send questions to people
in the know and join discussion lists and news groups that discuss
and answer questions about support and training. The Edtech mail list
is one such list. Some World Wide Web sites offer technical support
information. Videos also help bridge the information gap. See
Section 9, "Resources and Contacts," for a preliminary listing of
these resources. Your local community may also have resources. These
include colleges and universities, businesses, computer clubs and
user groups, technology consultants, and government agencies.
4.3 How can my school afford access to the Internet?
Although school budgets are impossibly tight in most cases, the cost
of an Internet connection can be squeezed from the budget when its
value becomes apparent. Costs for a low-end connection can be
reasonable. (See the next question.) The challenge facing those
advocating an Internet connection sometimes has less to do with the
actual cost than it has with the difficulty of convincing
administrators to spend money on an unfamiliar resource.
In order to move the Internet connection closer to the top of your
school's priority list, consider at least two possibilities. First,
your school may be in the process of reform, as are many schools. As
mentioned earlier, use of the Internet supports reform efforts, so
framing Internet access as a component to systemic reform may help to
persuade some people. Second, to convince people of the value of a
connection, an actual Internet demonstration can be more useful than
words. While this may sound like a chicken-and-egg situation (I need
Internet access to get Internet access), some organizations will
provide guest accounts on an Internet-connected computer for people
in schools who are trying to convince others of the value of an
Internet connection. Another way to begin using Internet services is
to sign up for one of the popular online services such as America
Online, CompuServe, or Prodigy. Once subscribed, you can use these
services either from home or from school. This method is recommended
only as way to introduce yourself and others in your school community
to the value of the Internet. It is not a good long-term solution to
providing Internet access for a lot of users at one site such as a
Contact local colleges, universities, technology companies, service
providers, community networks, and government agencies for both guest
accounts and funding ideas. For alternatives to your own school's
budget or for supplements to it, look for funding in federal, state,
and district budgets as well as from private grants. Work with
equipment vendors to provide the hardware needed at low or no cost to
your school, and consider forming a School/Community Technology
Committee, or a joint School District/School/Community Technology
Committee. Also investigate the possibility of a back-door connection
to a local college or university. Service providers often allow
schools to connect to higher education sites at a lower cost.
A number of sites on the Internet provide more information about
grants and organizations that offer them. Two in particular that you
may find useful are Grants Web, for grant information of all kinds,
and the Foundation Center, for information on private and nonprofit
organizations. For information on where to find these sites on the
Internet, see Section 9, "Resources and Contacts."
4.4 What organizational structure needs to be in place in order for my
school to have Internet access?
Schools and school districts have devised structures that vary
widely, depending on a school's particular requirements. In many
schools, the librarians/media specialists guide the development of
the network and policies on its use and serve as the top of the
structure within the school. In other schools, an interested teacher
becomes the driving force behind getting the Internet into the school
and may be the most appropriate person to see the project through.
The school administration, if not the guiding force, needs to be
behind the plan to bring the Internet into the school. And all other
parties who might have a stake in the development should be brought
in as early as possible, whether or not they are knowledgeable about
the Internet. These might include area businesses, community leaders,
teachers with Internet access at home, the librarian or media
specialist, parents, and anyone in the school who finds the idea of
bringing the Internet into the school appealing. In short, any
organizational structure will do as long as it is clear and simple
and includes the people who might have a stake in the process of
bringing the Internet into the school.
One way to ensure that an organizational structure develops and that
the right people become involved is to invite a wide variety of
people to create a technology plan for the school. The by-product of
technology planning can be the development of an organizational
structure, but of course the planning is useful in itself to help
your school define and meet goals for Internet and other technology
use. The National Center for Technology Planning hosts a collection
of technology plans and planning aids for people who need help, new
ideas, or solutions as they tackle technology planning in their
schools or districts. Information on the National Center for
Technology Planning can be found in Section 9, "Resources and
No matter what the structure, there should be someone at the school
who can take the lead in working with vendors and Internet Service
Providers (ISPs). This person should be knowledgeable about - or
willing to learn about - the technical aspects of connecting to the
Internet, including knowledge about any networks the school already
has in place. The lead person should have an alternate so that the
school is not completely dependent on one person. If your school
hires an independent consultant, someone at the school should be
aware of everything the consultant does and should receive at least
some training in the areas of the consultant's work.
Another role that must be filled is that of in-house network
administrator. Having an already busy teacher take on this role as an
extra duty is a bad idea; a greater time commitment is needed.
4.5 What questions do I need to ask people who are selling network
There are a number of questions you should ask. Anything you hear
that you don't understand must be questioned. If a vendor knows the
product and the process well, he or she should be able to explain in
terms you can understand.
You should also ask any kind of vendor how available they are and at
what point they either stop helping you or begin charging by the
hour. Get references from other customers, preferably including at
least one school which has requirements similar to yours.
Questions for LAN vendors:
If the school has not yet purchased a Local Area Network (LAN),
ask the LAN vendor how the product will interact with TCP/IP.
(TCP/IP stands for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet
Protocol, the technology which forms the basis of the Internet.)
If necessary, arrange a meeting with the LAN vendor, the ISP, and
any consultants that may be involved.
Make a list of the school's requirements, including security, the
number of computers on the LAN which will have Internet access,
and the Internet services you want students and teachers to be
able to use. (See Section 5, "Questions About Using Internet
Services," for an introduction to the services.) Ask the vendors
if they can provide services that will meet your requirements.
Questions for Internet Service Providers:
In general, ask the ISP what services are included with your
purchase of Internet connectivity.
Will they terminate the circuit in a router and leave you to your
own resources to take care of the "LAN side" of the connection?
Will they provide a primary domain name server for you?
Will they register your domain name with the InterNIC?
Are they providing you with all the IP addresses you need?
Will they help you with security issues?
Do they provide a newsfeed or a newsreading service? (Do you know
If they agree to do some work on the LAN side, what is the extent
of that work? (Configure individual computers? Handle subnetting
and routing issues?)
Will they answer questions from your network administrator?
Will a dedicated computer be needed as an Internet server for such
things as domain name service, the World Wide Web, Gopher, and
Do they provide any training sessions for your staff and are these
sessions included in the connectivity price?
Do they offer any other classes or seminars and are these included
in the connectivity price?
Does the ISP do their own training or do they contract to someone
else, and if the latter, who is it? Check references on any
Questions for Internet Service Providers furnishing dial-in
There are some specific questions you should ask of an ISP who is
providing dial-in connections. (See Question 4.7 for a further
discussion on dialing in from home.)
What is the charge per minute for connectivity?
Is SLIP or PPP connectivity available?
Will the ISP be providing software which allows you to use
Internet services such as email and the World Wide Web or will
they help you obtain it?
Will they help you install it?
Ask for references of other clients using dial-in service and when
you check them, one of the questions to ask other customers is if
they encounter lots of busy signals. (You can also check this
yourself by trying the access provider's dial-in number at various
times during the day. Just dial it by phone and see how many busy
signals you get.)
4.6 How many of our computers should have Internet access and where
in the school should they be located?
You should make Internet access possible for as many of your school's
computers as possible. Ideally, you have computers located throughout
the school - in classrooms, the library, and laboratories - and they
are all connected together with printers and other peripherals in one
or more LANs. In that case, you acquire one dedicated Internet
connection of 56 Kbs (Kilobits per second) or higher to serve the
If your budget and existing computer equipment are both limited, you
can use a dial-up service and a modem to access the Internet, but in
most cases that will only be viable for one computer at a time. As
use of the Internet catches on in your school, it will eventually be
more effective for you to create the LAN with Internet access
mentioned above than to keep adding modems in classrooms.
If you must choose between Internet access in one lab in the school
or Internet access for the same number of computers throughout the
school, in order to get teachers to use the access you must make it
available where they can most easily take advantage of it. This
usually means that you make access available throughout the school.
Although a computer lab is an easier maintenance set-up for the
person in charge of keeping the equipment running and allows each
individual (or pair) in an entire class to be using a computer at the
same time, a computer located in the classroom is more convenient for
both the teacher and the class. Internet resources can be more easily
integrated into a classroom lesson, and the emphasis remains on using
the Internet as an instructional tool. Since only one or two
computers can usually be placed in each classroom, teachers will
learn to allocate computer time creatively. And if you are able to
provide only a few computers throughout the school, make sure that at
least one of them is in the library where all students will have the
chance to be exposed to the Internet as a resource.
Networking all computers campus-wide can be expensive. You may want
to investigate initially giving one lab, the library, and a few
classrooms dial-up access, assuming phone lines are available. Even a
connection to only one classroom as a demonstration may help you to
garner more support for creating a campus-wide local area network
that is routed to the Internet through a dedicated line.
4.7 Can people get on the Internet from home?
This depends on your network access provider. It is certainly a
possibility and is definitely desirable for the educators at your
school. To make it possible for teachers and other staff to dial in
to the school network (and then out to the Internet) from home, you
will need to employ, at the least, multiple phone lines and modems.
Talk to your service provider about other technical requirements.
Many teachers like to be able to learn at home as well as on school
grounds, and having the ability to explore when they have the time is
invaluable. One school district we know of made low-interest loans
available to teachers so that they could buy home computers. When the
technology was later made available in their classrooms, they already
had some experience and were comfortable beginning to use it in day-
The question of whether or not to make the option to dial in from
home available to students is more difficult. On one hand, a school
may not be able to escape the idea that it is responsible for how
students use the Internet access it provides, even though the school
has no control over the home environment. On the other hand,
particularly in high school, much schoolwork is done at home. Since
most classrooms don't have enough computers for all students to
access the Internet at once, it is even more likely that work will
not be completed during class time. Having Internet access from home
becomes more important.
Discussion of whether or not you want to make this option available
to students - even if it is technically possible - should involve as
many school partners as possible, including faculty, administration,
parents, and other community members. It might take place in a public
forum such as a school/community meeting.
5. Questions About Using Internet Services
The way to find people, information, software, and anything else on
the Internet is generally to use either printed or electronic guides
and Internet services. In this section we will concentrate on the
services. (See Section 6, "Questions about Classroom Resources,
Projects, and Collaboration," for information on guides.) We answer
more questions about the World Wide Web than about other online
services for three reasons. First, the World Wide Web is the
Internet tool coming into most prominence at the time of this
writing. Second, many (if not all) of the other services are included
seamlessly in the Web; that is, they're there, but you may or may not
realize you're using them. Third, making your way around the Internet
using the World Wide Web is easy; for people not interested in
computers, access to the Internet and has become less frustrating.
This is not to say that finding what you want is always simple. The
Internet is like a vast library without a comprehensive card catalog.
New ways to do indexing and searching are being devised and employed,
and you'll need some time to learn how to use them.
5.1 What is the World Wide Web?
The World Wide Web (WWW) is a project initiated by the European
Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN) located in Geneva, Switzerland
and currently driven by the World Wide Web Consortium. When exploring
the World Wide Web, users navigate through documents by selecting
highlighted text that leads to another document or location. The
highlighted text can be called a "pointer," a "link," or an "anchor."
This navigation results in a three-dimensional exploration of
documents instead of a flat text document. The World Wide Web
incorporates different media into its documents, including text,
sound, graphics, and moving images.
The World Wide Web presents either a graphical or a text interface to
numerous Internet resources. Not only can users access documents
specifically designed for the Web, they can also view documents on
Gopher servers, use FTP to download files, and launch a telnet
session. Some World Wide Web clients also allow for the use of email
and Usenet news. This is an easy-to-use, nonthreatening way to
approach the Internet, and does not require in-depth technical
knowledge. (See Question 5.5 for a discussion of these other
5.2 How do I connect to the World Wide Web?
First, you will need at least a SLIP or PPP connection. (See Question
4.1 for more information; SLIP or PPP is the "advanced individual
user" solution described there.) Accessing the Web is like using any
other service on the Internet: you run a client on your computer
which accesses a server, in this case a Web server, running on
another computer. In Web terms, the client is called a browser. The
browser retrieves and reads documents from Web servers. Information
providers establish Web servers for use by network users, and when
you become proficient at using the Internet, you may want to become
exactly that kind of information provider.
Most Web browsers share common features. One feature is the hotlist,
or bookmark. This allows you to mark your favorite sites. Your
browser will store these sites and their addresses and allow you to
revisit them later by simply selecting the name of a site from a
menu. Another feature common to most browsers allows you to save the
current file to your local disk. Some browsers keep a tally of the
sites you've visited recently and allow you to revisit them without
typing in the location again. Every browser is different, so it pays
to explore your own client software and learn its features through
practice. Most people, even those with little computer experience,
find that it's easy to learn to use a browser just by exploring on
Each document contained on Web servers across the Internet has a
unique address. This is called a URL, a uniform resource locator.
Browsers negotiate URLs just like mail software negotiates email
addresses. Users can type in the URL for the browser to access. URLs
are also embedded in a Web document's text, providing a seamless link
to another location or document.
5.3 How is the World Wide Web linked?
The Web functions as a distributed hypermedia system. The purpose of
this system is to allow the exchange of information across the
Internet in the form of hypertext documents called Web pages or home
pages. Hypertext is text with pointers or links to further
information in various formats (text, graphic, video), allowing you
to branch off to another document for more information on a given
topic, and then return to the same location in the original document
with ease. Pointers in a Web document are analogous to HyperCard
stacks or Microsoft help files in which you click on an option (a
pointer or a link) and the program moves you to another document, or
Documents published on the Web are constructed in hypertext markup
language, or HTML. This is a simple language that allows you to
format text, insert images and sound, and create links in a document.
Tutorials on creating Web services are available at the NCSA Mosaic
Home Page, the automatic starting place for Web exploration when
using the Mosaic client. There are also Web page creation resources
listed in Section 9, "Resources and Contacts."
5.4 Where do I get a World Wide Web browser?
The two most common graphical Web browsers at the time of this
writing are Netscape and Mosaic. Netscape is a commercial product but
is currently free for educational use. Mosaic is free. Both of these
packages are available for Macintosh, PC, and Unix platforms through
the Internet. See Section 9, "Resources and Contacts," for details.
For those users with lower-speed connections that cannot accommodate
full graphical browsers, there is a text-based browser available for
Unix systems called Lynx. A public-access Lynx client is accessible
through telnet at the server of the World Wide Web Consortium, which
is listed in Section 9, "Resources and Contacts."
Many commercial online services, such as CompuServe, Prodigy, and
America Online, include a Web browser as part of their offerings.
More and more often, Web browsers are being included as part of the
standard connection software provided by the Internet Service
5.5 What are the other services on the Internet?
There are a number of other services to help you get around on the
Internet. The most common ones are described here. For more
information, see "EFF's (Extended) Guide to the Internet" by the
Electronic Frontier Foundation, and "The Whole Internet User's Guide
and Catalog" by Ed Krol, both of which are listed in Section 8,
"Suggested Reading," in addition to the Glossary entries mentioned
for each tool.
Email. Email is probably the most basic tool on the Internet. It is
short for electronic mail and may be used in a couple of ways. You
can send messages back and forth with just one person, or you can
participate with a group of people who discuss topics of common
interest. These groups are called mail lists. You join and leave the
lists by sending email to one address, and you post messages to all
the people on the list by sending email to a slightly different
address. Sometimes a human does the list registration and sometimes a
software program does it. For more information see the entries for
email and mailing lists in the Glossary. A list of mail lists
related to primary and secondary education can be found in Section 9,
"Resources and Contacts."
Network News. Also known as Usenet News or Net News. Reading news is
similar to joining an email list, but instead of the messages coming
to your mailbox, you use news reader software to read messages on a
computer where they are accumulated. For more information see the
entry for Usenet News in the Glossary.
FTP. FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, and just as the name
implies, it allows you to transfer files from one computer to
another. It is the name for both the protocol and the program. A
special kind of FTP, Anonymous FTP, allows you to access the many
public archives on the Internet. FTP is not used by itself as much as
it used to be, since people often use Web browsers and Gopher clients
which incorporate FTP when they want to retrieve files. For more
information see the entries for Anonymous FTP and FTP in the
Telnet. Telnet allows you to log into a computer somewhere else on
the Internet and use the services there. For example, if you don't
have a Gopher client or a Web browser, there are some public access
sites that you can telnet to in order to use a Gopher client or a
text-based Web browser.
Gopher. Gopher is a tool that lets you browse for information on the
Internet using menus. If you know what you're looking for and have an
idea about where to find it, Gopher can make your search easier. And
when you have located something of interest, whether it's a document,
a data set, or a picture, Gopher will retrieve it for you. For more
information see the entry for Gopher in the Glossary.
Searching and Indexing Tools. Archie is a tool for searching FTP
sites; Veronica (Very Easy Rodent-Oriented Network Index to
Computerized Archives, which works the same way Archie does) is a
tool for searching Gopherspace; WAIS (Wide Area Information Service;
pronounced "wayz") is a tool for searching indexed databases, whether
the databases are full of numbers, text, or graphics files; and
Yahoo, Lycos, and WebCrawler are some of the many searching and
indexing tools available on and for the World Wide Web. For more
information see the entries for Archie, Gopher, WAIS, WWW, and
Veronica in the Glossary.
Videoconferencing. At the time of this writing, schools are beginning
to participate in conferences, meetings, and collaborative activities
via video. The two services or applications used are Multicast
Backbone (MBONE) and CU-SeeMe, both of which allow for desktop
videoconferencing, or videoconferencing via computer.
MBONE is an option for videoconferencing using several operating
systems at the time of this writing: Unix, Windows NT, Windows 95,
and Mac Operating System 7.5.2. It requires that your Internet
service provider be a part of the MBONE, which depends on a
specialized routing strategy. Ask your service provider if they are
equipped to support MBONE traffic. If so, you will need to work
fairly closely with your provider to establish working configurations
for your network. More information on MBONE is available at the MBONE
Information Web. (See Section 9, "Resources and Contacts.")
CU-SeeMe, developed by Cornell University, also presents conferencing
capabilities over an IP network. You may participate in a CU-SeeMe
videoconference as a sender, a recipient, or both. Through use of
reflectors, multiple sites may participate in any given conference.
For any of these activities, you'll need a PC or a Macintosh with a
connection to the Internet and CU-SeeMe software. Additionally, if
you'd like to send video and audio, you will need a video camera and
a video board in your computer. Full information on the hardware
requirements is available at the CU-SeeMe Web site; there is also a
mailing list for CU-SeeMe information. For guidance and discussion
about using CU-SeeMe as an instructional tool, the Global SchoolNet
Foundation hosts a mail list called cu-seeme-schools which announces
opportunities for participation in CU-SeeMe events. For information
on the Web site and mailing lists, see Section 9, "Resources and
6. Questions About Classroom Resources, Projects, and Collaboration
6.1 How can I find specific projects using the Internet that are
When you have learned to use some of the Internet services discussed
in Section 5, "Questions About Using Internet Services," particularly
the search tools, you will be able to answer that question more fully
for yourself. In the meantime, since there are several resources on
the Internet that are directed specifically at the primary and
secondary school communities, here are some ideas to get you started.
Computer Information Servers:
Global SchoolNet. The Global SchoolNet Foundation's World Wide
Web site contains a wealth of valuable information and materials,
including help setting up projects by learning what has worked
best based on others' experience. The GSN site also contains a
landmark registry of projects in which schools can participate.
EdWeb. Andy Carvin's EdWeb is an excellent source of K-12
CoSN. The Consortium for School Networking maintains an Internet
NASA. NASA's Spacelink and Quest are directed at primary and
secondary school educators, and both house lesson plans,
Internet-based curriculum units, and interactive projects and
activities. Many NASA projects also maintain computer information
Empire Internet Schoolhouse. The New York State Education and
Research Network (NYSERNet) hosts the Empire Internet Schoolhouse,
an extension of its Bridging the Gap program.
K-12 Schools on the Internet. Gleason Sackman of North Dakota's
SENDIT network for K-12 educators maintains an active list of K-12
schools on the Internet.
National School Network Testbed. The Bolt Beranek and Newman
(BBN) project called the National School Network Testbed provides
links to numerous schools and projects.
Internet School Networking. The Web pages for the group which
brings you this paper contain a collection of documents and case
studies on projects.
Many people on electronic mailing lists such as Ednet, Kidsphere,
and the Consortium for School Networking Discussion List post
their projects and ask for partners and collaborators.
The K12 hierarchy of Usenet News has several groups where
educators post these invitations as well. For subscription to
these and other electronic lists and for names of news groups see
Section 9, "Resources and Contacts."
There are also a number of conferences worth looking in to. The
National Education Computing Conference (NECC) and Tel-Ed, both
held annually, are conferences sponsored by the International
Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). The Internet Society
(INET) conference is the annual conference for the Internet
Society. See Section 9, "Resources and Contacts" for contact
information for these organizations.
Specific computer information servers, mail lists, news groups,
and conference sponsors are listed in Section 9, "Resources and
Contacts." A number of Web sites also provide favorite
"bookmarks," or lists of sites for educators. Bookmarks are not
included in Section 9, but you will quickly find them if you begin
at any of the Web server entry points listed here.
6.2 What are some examples of how the Internet is being used in
Projects which use the Internet sometimes request sites from all over
the world to contribute data from the local area then compile that
data for use by all. Weather patterns, pollutants in water or air,
and Monarch butterfly migration are some of the data that have been
collected over the Internet. In Appendix C, "Examples of Educational
Projects Using the Internet," you will find several examples
collected from various online servers and electronic mailing lists
pertaining to education, each from a different content area and
representing different ways of using the Internet. Some of the
projects require only that you be able to use email, some require
that you have access to the most advanced Internet services, and some
offer varying levels of participation.
There are a number of specific projects you may find interesting:
KIDS. KIDS is a project managed by the nonprofit KIDLINK Society. It
includes discussion lists and services, some of them only for people
who are ten through fifteen years old.
Academy One. Academy One is part of the National Public Telecomputing
Network (NPTN) and usually has a number of projects running at a
I*EARN. The International Education and Research Network (I*EARN), a
project of the nonprofit Copen Family Fund, facilitates
telecommunications in schools around the world.
Chatback Trust. Initiated to provide email for schools in the United
Kingdom and around the world with students who have mental or
physical difficulty with communicating, Chatback Trust and Chatback
International maintain a network server that you may want to
ESP. The European Schools Project (ESP) involves approximately 200
schools in 20 countries and has as its goal building a support system
for secondary school educators.
Electronic Field Trips. The online interactive projects on NASA's
Quest server and the JASON Project are designed especially to provide
classroom contact with real science and scientists.
For contact information on these groups and computer information
servers refer to Section 9, "Resources and Contacts."
6.3 Are there any guides to using the Internet in schools that list all
these resources in one place?
Printed guides to using the Internet in education are appearing along
with the new books on the Internet and you can expect to see more in
the near future. The problem with paper resource guides is that the
Internet is a changing environment so they become outdated quickly.
Most (like this document) try to list only the most stable resource
sites, and even if not everything you try is available, these guides
can be particularly helpful if you are new to the Internet. Try the
books entitled "Education on the Internet," "Teaching with the
Internet: Putting Teachers Before Technology," and "Brave New
Schools" listed in Section 8, "Suggested Reading," for a sampling of
those available at the time of this writing. Check bookstores,
libraries, and booksellers' catalogs for others.
One answer to the problem of printed Internet guides is the
newsletter. Two we recommend are specifically for primary and
secondary school educators interested in networking and contain
information on new services on the Internet that are of interest to
educators, projects for collaboration, conferences, new books and
publications, essays, and practical tutorials on using network tools
and services. NetTeach News is published ten times a year and is
available both hardcopy and via email. Classroom Connect is
published nine times a year. Information on subscribing and related
online services for both newsletters can be found in Section 9,
"Resources and Contacts."
Internet computers which act as guides to the Internet for educators
are, among others, BBN's Copernicus server, the Global SchoolNet
server, NASA's Quest server, the University of Illinois College of
Education's Learning Resource Server, and Web66. All are listed in
Section 9, "Resources and Contacts."
6.4 How can I add my own contributions to the Internet?
In addition to sharing your knowledge and expertise on the electronic
mail lists and news groups mentioned, as you gain experience you may
find you have the knowledge and inclination to put up a Web page for
your own site. Many K-12 schools are maintaining Web pages, either
on Web servers they set up at the school or on a computer at another
site, to publish student projects and information about their
schools. Gleason Sackman's Hot List of K-12 Internet School Sites and
Web66 offer a comprehensive listing of these schools and provide
links to their home pages. These pages may give you ideas about ways
your school can use the World Wide Web to contribute to the K-12
Internet community. There are also a number of sites which give
instruction in how to publish on the Web and how to maintain Web
sites, including Web66, the National Center for Supercomputing
Applications (NCSA), and the Geometry Forum. For the Internet
locations of these resources see Section 9, "Resources and Contacts."