Sometimes using the Internet for learning is even more challenging than using familiar materials like books. But through thoughtful preparation you can make the Internet a valuable learning experience. Using the Internet for gathering information requires many of the same skills we use when learning from a book, magazine, newspaper or video.
Read and follow these simple tips. Search with a purpose, consider the source, think about what you are doing and record and save your work.
Sometimes you get on the Internet for fun and to explore. However, when you are gathering information for a class you have a purpose to your exploration. Think about the questions you want answered. Write down key ideas on separate pieces of paper (or index cards) before you start. It is easy to get off track. Spend your study time wisely by planning ahead, before you log on.
Anyone can put just about anything on the Internet. Your time is valuable and you canít read everything. Learn to evaluate information. Who is the author? Is he or she qualified to write about the subject? Is the article fact or a personís opinion? How recent is the information? Are there important parts of the information missing? If you decide to copy or download the information onto your computer, how large is the document, do you have the right plug-in and how much time will it take to download?
During Internet explorations you will see lots of possible side trips and opportunities. Stay focused on gathering the information you need right now. If you find an interesting web site write down the URL (Internet address) or use the Bookmark or Favorites feature in your Internet browser and add the site to your list. Return to that site when you have more time.
Sometimes the computer system you are using will have a problem. Use your paper and pencil to write down important URLís (the Internet address) and the name of the web site. Adding web sites as a bookmark in your web browser is a good practice, but write down on paper some of the most important ones, just in case! When you are writing your ideas, save your work frequently. Put it on a disk or some other electronic backup in a folder with your name on it. Think about the best title for the document so you can recognize it later. For really important documents, print out a copy as soon as possible, JUST IN CASE! (Note: if you are at school, you will need to have a floppy disk or a folder on the server for saving your personal work.)
Most URLís (universal resource locator) include a three-letter code that helps identify the siteís origin:
Asking students to search on the Internet without supervision is risky. Give your students a specific task, a certain amount of time, and check periodically to see that they have not strayed into inappropriate material or time-consuming games. If your school has a technology use policy, follow it. If you don't have a technology use policy, work with other teachers to establish one. An example of a policy is available from Juneau School District by going to their home page at: http://www.jsd.k12.ak.us/ and searching for "technology conduct policy."