There are many ways to navigate and use the Internet. But first, we need to understand how the web works, the different types of information available, and how to locate what we need. After completing this module, students will be able to:

  • Identify what the internet is and how it is structured
  • Describe the various components of the Internet
  • Recognize different sources of information
  • Recognize and use appropriate language and labels identifying critical components of the web

2.1 What Do I need to Know About the Web? (Lesson One)

The World Wide Web, or WWW, consists of millions of web sites and web pages that can contain text, pictures, sounds, videos, links for downloading, moving graphics, and much much more.

Every time you click on a link on a web page, you are following a hyperlink. A hyperlink is a link you can click on or activate in order to go somewhere else.

Have students explore the following links to find more information about the history and scope of the web:

2.2 Let's Talk! Speaking the Language of the Web (Lesson Two)

Any specialized form of discourse has its own unique language and the web literacy is no exception. Even experienced web users are often bewildered by the seemingly interchangeable terminology used by readers, writers, and speakers in the field. The following "vocabulary quiz" will help you identify which words are familiar to students and concepts and ideas need farther explanation.

Before students engage in Internet research projects, both teachers and students need to become familiar with key Internet terminology. A host of web sites have outstanding glossaries of important vocabulary and lingo with which teachers should be familiar. Explore the following links to containing comprehensive definitions of important terminology:

  • I-SAFE America: Basic Internet Glossary: This site provides an extensive online glossary of basic Internet terms. At the end of the glossary is a link to general Internet safety awareness terminology.
  • NetSmartz: Internet Definitions: NetSmartz provides an even more extensive page of Internet terminology and terms that every teacher and parent should familiarize themselves with.
  • www4teachers: Technology Glossary: This online glossary of Internet terms is based on important words used in www4teachers feature stories. Users can submit suggestions or ask for help in defining a technical term. The glossary is also accessible in Spanish.
  • NetLingo: The Internet Dictionary: This comprehensive online dictionary contains more than 3000 terms, definitions, and pieces of lingo associated with the Internet. Terms can be searched alphabetically, by category, or by keyword.

2.3 Knowledge Rating Scale (Lesson Three, Part One)

The following graphic organizer can be used as an assessment for learning the language of the web. As you determine the key vocabulary words related to each module or the aspect of web literacy being introduced, ask students to "rate" their knowledge of the meaning of each word or concept.

The Adapted Knowledge Rating Scale features a column where students can write the meaning of the word after they encounter it and learn it. The definition should be written in the student’s own language. The Scale was adapted from the work of Blachowicz & Fisher. Students can work separately or in small groups marking using the Vocabulary Rating Scale to discuss their knowledge of the words below.

  • Select a list of important vocabulary words from the Glossary of Terms as you begin each new module or exercise.
  • Prepare a handout for each of your students that lists the vocabulary words followed by three columns labeled : Know It Well, Have Heard/Seen It, and No Clue.
  • Divide the class into mixed ability groups of three or four students to provide students with the opportunity to share their diverse background knowledge.
  • Have the students consider each word on the Knowledge Rating Scale and place and X in the appropriate column next to the word. If a student feels they are able to explain or define a word they should put an X in the "Know It Well" column. If the word sounds familiar but they do not know exactly what it is or how to describe it, they should mark the "Have Heard/Seen It" column. If the student is totally unfamiliar with the word they should mark the column "No Clue."

Know It Well
Heard of/Seen it
No Clue













Extending the Activity: Web Jargon (Lesson Three, Part Two)

The web has literally created a new language giving a whole new meaning to words like: "surfing" "browse" and "window" as well as creating entirely new words like "Tweet" "blog" and "meme". The following sites are dedicated to exploring this new lingo.

  • The Acronym Database If you aren't exactly sure what FTP or SMTP or HTML stand for, this is the place to look.
  • On-line Dictionary of Computing An excellent resource for gaining a conceptual grasp of computing concepts.
  • Jargon Watch Compiled monthly from translated jargon in Wired magazine, this list will keep you in the know about the latest internet "catch phrases."
  • NetLingo Includes up-to-date, Web 2.0 terms

2.4 Getting to Know the Web (Lesson Four)

The World Wide Web is a REALLY big place. But just in case students do not realize HOW big, a picture is worth a thousand words or in this case: 210 billion emails, 3 million Flickr images, 43 million gigabytes (on phones) sent on an average day really means. It is so big it hurts (from Online Education.Net)




But just how big is big?

Microsoft's Bing team puts the amount of web pages at "over one trillion". And Google has already indexed more than one trillion discrete web addresses. That means there are more addresses than there are people on Earth. The current global population stands at more than 6.7 billion.

Here's a fun translation: If you spent just one minute reading every website in existence, you’d be kept busy for 31,000 years. Without any sleep. Bing was more generous with its estimate for those who take more time to read saying this: "An average person would need six hundred thousand decades of nonstop reading to read through the information."

Kids love stats like this, for even more be sure to check out these related sites:

"How Big is the Internet?"
Google: We Knew the Web Was Big

2.5 What's on/in the Web? (Lesson Five)

When we talk about the web with students they often think facts and information. The web is more than just a library within a screen. Today, search means looking for images, news, finance, books, local, and geographical information as well as information search. These media types are becoming more and more integral in our core universal search, but each presents its own challenges, innovations, and triumphs. Helping students recognize key identifying features of web content will enable them to sift and sort strategically and efficiently through the mass if information before them.

Many web sites of the past offer information created by one or more people and put on a static web page. The "owner" can change the information, but the "visitor" or "reader" cannot. However, new web technologies have made it possible to easily create interactive pages. Interactive pages allow you to add or change content on a web page and see the changes instantly. Two popular types of interactive pages are blogs and wikis.

There are over 30 types of sites possible (Wikipedia: Types of Sites), and even more possibilities on the way with the growth of widgets and the birth of mobile web applications. Some of the most popular in use today are:

  • Blog Sites: An RSS enabled site, where the site author creates time-stamped entries with each entry being archived by date and category
  • Company Brochure Sites: Normally an space used as an extension for a company's corporate information, brand awareness, or updates
  • E-Commerce Sites: Designed for the use of shopping for services or goods, storing in an online shopping cart, and making purchases
  • Forums: Also known as Message Boards, using threaded discussions (content published by individual users) to form community
  • Social Networking: A site that allows members to communicate in real-time, create their own profile, and share information in conversational manner
  • Wikis: A collaborative site, allowing for multiple users to create and modify content while storing revision history

With the popularity of open-source development, widgets and mobile applications are making it possible for new types of sites, connections, and portability to become device and geographically ubiquitous.