The Internet is a worldwide network of computers linked together through servers which function as connection nodes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Node_%28networking%29). In November 2007 there were an estimated 1.26 billion Internet users in the world of which almost 344 million were in Europe. Educational benefits · The Internet offers a wealth of new ideas and resources for teachers. Lesson plans, online exercises for students and electronic educational games. · The Internet facilitates exchange of experience and communication between teachers and students across international borders. · The Internet provides students with the opportunity to take part in projects to practise language and share cultures. This can be quicker and more efficient than traditional pen pal exchanges and does not involve the expense of a school trip. · The Internet makes research tools accessible even to those who do not regularly visit a traditional library.
Ethical considerations and risks · As in the offline world, there is fraud, false information and inappropriate material for children. · While Internet offers a number of new possibilities, technical solutions are not always better than traditional ones. For example, e-mail has revolutionised communication and although video-conferencing can give a feeling of ‘almost being there’, it will never replace face-to-face communication. How to · If you are connecting from an institution (school, university, administration) your computer is probably automatically linked to an in-house server. · To get connected to the Internet with a computer from home, you will need: - a computer equipped with a modem – some Internet Service Providers (ISP) automatically provide subscribers with a modem;
- a telephone connection with or without broadband (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broadband_Internet_access), or a satellite connection (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satellite_Internet_access);
- a subscription to an Internet service provider (ISP)
· ISPs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_service_provider) form the necessary link between the user and the Internet. They can be private companies such as telecom or cable companies, or organisations such as universities. ISPs usually require a monthly subscription fee, and offer a range of services. · A dialup (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dial-up_access) connection allows the user to access the Internet through a standard analogue telephone line. The user is often charged according to time connected, as with a normal phone call. An analogue line does not allow an Internet connection and phone connection at the same time. Connection speeds are slow. · A broadband connection provides access through a digital line or a cable. ISDN (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISDN) and DSL (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Subscriber_Line) are examples. Cable operators and ISPs’ broadband subscriptions usually allow unlimited access time for a fixed fee. However, a cap may be set on how much data can be downloaded. Connection speeds are much faster and these lines allow a phone to be used without disconnecting the Internet. · An increasing number of computers, especially laptops, are fitted with wireless network cards (Wifi) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/wifi) These allow cable-free access to the Internet at home or at “wireless hotspots”. Wireless hotspots can be found at public places such as cafés and airports. WiMAX is a new type of wireless connection available in a very limited number of areas across the world (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WiMAX). Best practice · Choose a connection appropriate for your Internet usage. A broadband connection is likely to be worthwhile if you use the Internet regularly. · If you have broadband, do not remain connected unless you are using it. It may not cost extra money, but it increases the security risk to your data (see Fact Sheet 16on security). · Sit next to your children whenever you can while they are surfing the Internet, in order to stimulate discussion about their online experiences and to increase trust; make it a challenge to learn together. · Draw up an acceptable use policy (AUP) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acceptable_use_policy if others will be using the computer or network you are responsible for. For further information · The List is a worldwide directory of ISPs: . · Education websites such as European Schoolnet at , Global Schoolhouse at and Education World at <http://www.educationworld.com/> offer resources and collaborative projects. · Advice on writing an AUP from can be obtained from Becta, the UK agency for ICT in education: <http://schools.becta.org.uk>. · The Insafe portal offers resources and advice on how to get connected and surf safely: <http://www.saferinternet.org >.