- Peer Review: A Brief History of the Internet
A Brief History of the Internet
- Oct 2, 2007 by Information Technology
- As the author states, this is "An anecdotal history of the people and communities that brought about the Internet and the Web". It provides a concise, yet detailed description of the people, places and technological developments involved in the growth of the Internet and the development of the WWW. The article starts with the initial concept of a global network of computers by J.C.R. Licklider in the 1960s, progresses to its current popularity for commercial use, and considers likely future directions such as universal wireless access and the growth of handheld devices. Interesting sidelights are included. The site is primarily text with a few graphics. An interactive glossary is available for technological terms. It is part of a larger site, 'The Internet Learning Tree" which provides a more comprehensive look at the Internet.
- Type of Material:
- Lecture/Presentation. reference material.
- Recommended Uses:
- This Web page could be used as supplementary material for students learning about the Internet. It is not in depth but could be either a summary or overview. The article mentions fifteen people who played a significant role in the development of the Internet. An activity for students in non-technical fields as well as those in technical ones could be to assign research into the contributions of one of the people. Good refresher reference material; starting point for web search.
- Technical Requirements:
- Identify Major Learning Goals:
- To learn about the Internet.
- Target Student Population:
- It is particularly useful for college students or later in computer-related discipline but will provide a useful overview for any student who uses the Internet. The general public as well as academic communities, especially those who are new to web research, would find this site helpful.
- Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
- Familiarity with the Internet and with the concept of networking are helpful. Basic navigation skills are useful, critical thinking skills for making decisions on which search engine to use, some web research experience helpful in order not to be overwhelmed by the amount of tools given to the audience.
- The material is accurate and useful for understanding of this topic. At the time of this review, it was most recently updated in November, 2005. The scope and choice of content are relevant. It was recently updated to discuss wi-fi, universal wireless access, and the impact of handheld Internet devices. An excellent review of glossary and web search tools; although this is not an exhaustive list, it is quite comprehensive and would be helpful even to seasoned Internet users; nice use of the learning tree technique; great spider logo, easy to read, links to terms throughout text for immediate reference.
- This document is not meant to provide in-depth information about technical details. They are defined briefly in the glossary's pop-up windows, but if the instructor's goal is comprehension of technical content, further discussion is needed. Although the site was updated March 2007, there are parts of the site, including some parts of the tree, that have not been updated at least for 1 year. The history of the Internet is a nice review, but it could have been shortened or, else, broken down into a slide presentation (I recommend slidesharenet.com) for easier absoption of material.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
- Information is presented in an informative, conversational manner with interspersed human interest anecdotes such as "Who was the first to use the Internet?"; "Did Al Gore invent the Internet?"; The anecdotes are in boxes and their placement breaks the document into student-friendly sized chunks. Glossary entries are linked to the term providing immediate explanations. This is an effective advantage over a textbook presentation. The site has a good selection of search engines; a useful description of archives such as IPL vs. WWW library with an emphasis on noting the strengths and weaknesses of these sites. Good referencing technique throghout the text on all pages.
- The site is not really interactive; it does not require high end flash games to make it more of a "hands on" approach. There is high potential to make it interactive by providing search scenarios and which combination of site's resources would be best. Although the forum is a commendable effort, at least some of it seems outdated and currently inactive. The feedback form, however, is a nice touch though for a site such as this an "ask us" limited feature would have been very useful. In addition, perhaps the author could consider including examples of searches that can be done with provided materials. Graphics are minimal. Students might enjoy more illustrations. While the content is sectioned informally by the anecdotes, subheadings might help the student identify and locate specific information.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
- Other Issues and Comments:
- There is a large amount of material that could be broken down further or presented in a slide form. If possible, the author could consider using more clickable buttons for navigation and streamlining the way the resources are set up. Although there are clear links to the material, everything could be more interactive with the inclusion of scenarios and critical thinking questions with feedback. It is hard to say what may be clearly right or wrong in picking a particular combination of search engines, however, a guide could be provided on the judicial use of web research tools. The "about me" page, could be, perhaps, consolidated, especially the vita/resume part. Although it is impossible to "catch" all changes happening on the Internet, it would be helpful if the author updated the sites every 6 months or at least each year. The site overall, however, is a commendable effort. I would recommend it to the general audience as well as students and faculty as part of their Internet research refresher especially the specific list of search engines and libraries.
- Creative Commons: