MODULE THREE: WEB NAVIGATION - READING THE WEB


Most web page journeys start with search and fizzle from there. Users should develop the skill of not only reading the search results, but also knowing how to use the various components. This section will help learners:
  • understand which search results are relevant
  • determine which web pages are most likely to contain the information they are seeking

3.1 Decoding Your Search (Lesson One)

The diagram below points out four features that are important to understanding the search results page:

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diagram.jpg

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  1. The title: The first line of any search result is the title of the webpage.
  2. The snippet: A description of or an excerpt from the webpage.
  3. The URL: The web page's address.
  4. Cached link: A link to an earlier version of this page. Click here if the page you wanted isn't available.

All these features are important in determining whether the page is what you need. The title is what the author of the page designated as the best short description of the page.

(Source: Google Support)

3.2 THE URL (Lesson Two)

The website URL and domain name can give important clues and contexts about the content of the site. The Uniform Resource Locator, or URL for short, is the the global address of the documents, resources, and content on the Web.

A URL is made up of several parts. Each part of the web address has a special meaning. We can break down each portion of the web address both contextually and graphically.

http://www.oregonzoo.org/Cards/Elephants/elephant_exhibit.htm

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PROTOCOL
The first element in any URL is the Protocol. Basically, this tells your browser that it will be loading a web page or other document that exists on the web.. Web browsers can use other protocols to access other kinds of information on the Internet. Other types of protocols include File Transfer Protocol (ftp) and most email transfers (SMTP, IMAP, POP3, etc)

SERVER DOMAIN NAME (Location.ServerName.DomainType)
The second element to every URL is the server domain name, which is like the street address of the web server. Basically, the domain name tells the browser where it can find the web page in question, and in theory, the domain name reads similar to a street address, from most specific to most general. In the above example, the "domain" name consists of three parts: "www", "oregonzoo", and "org". The location (most often "www", though sometimes a sub-domain such as "blogs" as in http://blogs.sandiegozoo.com) precedes the server name (most often the name of the company or organization), which is then followed top-level domain type or country code.

Additional Resources:
See a full list of domain types at Top Level Domains
See the full list of country codes at NetLingo

FILE PATH (Folder/Sub-Folder)
The third element included in a URL is the file path. This element tells the browser where on the server to look for the requested web page. In the example above, the file path specifies "Cards", so the web browser will look on the server for a folder called "Cards." File paths can include nested or sub-folders as well. In our example, consider the sub-folder "Elephants." Our file path specifies multiple layers of folders. First, the browser will look for a folder called "Cards." Assuming it finds that folder, it will look for a folder called "Elephants" within the "Cards" folder. The path is anything that appears after the "/" after the hostname, but before a possible "?".

FILE NAME
The final element to a URL is the actual file name of the web page in question. In the example above, the file name of the web page we are looking for is "elephant_exhibit.htm". Note that most web pages will end in ".htm" or ".html", though ".asp" and ".php" continue to grow in popular buildout of web pages and sites.

To sum up how URL's work, let’s take another look at our sample URL: http://www.oregonzoo.org/Cards/Elephants/elephant_exhibit.htm. The protocol tells the browser that it should look for a web page. The domain name tells the browser that it should look for a web server at an organization Oregon Zoo. The file path tells the browser to look for a folder called "Cards," and then within that, a sub-folder called "Elephants" on the web server. The file name tells the browser which page in the "Elephants" folder it should copy and display for the user. That's all clear now, right? Here's an illustration to help.

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Lesson Four : Strategies for Reading the Web

Students will
explore and expand their definitions of texts.
identify different kinds of texts, ranging from print to visual to audio texts.
compile a list of strategies and processes needed to read and write these texts.

Activity: What is "Text"

The texts that students interact with have rapidly expanded from the days when the only definition of a text was a print-based book or magazine. While students interact with a range of print, visual, and sound texts, they do not always recognize that these many documents are texts. By creating an inventory of personal texts, students begin to consciously recognize the many literacy demands in contemporary society. With this start, they create a working definition of literacy that they refine and explore as they continue their investigation of the texts that they interact with at home, at school, and in other settings.

Students who interact with this wide range of texts using ever-expanding strategies for making meaning. The purpose of this activity is to collect, analize, and discuss the key strategies and differences between digital and non-digital texts. I start with the following question:

How important (or unimportant) it is to be able to interact with different kinds of texts? Can you describe specific situations where you relied on more than one way of interacting with a text? Why were your ways of interacting with the text useful?

Explain that you will be asking students to brainstorm a list of items that combine different ways of expressing ideas.
Ask students (individually or in small groups) to spend three to five minutes brainstorming other items that combine different ways of expressing ideas. The “ways” can be audio, video, alphanumeric, symbolic, images, and so forth.
Label this list as “Texts.” Be sure that students are defining the word text in this use as more than just print-based artifacts. Refer to the list items as audio texts, video texts, and so forth to reinforce the use of the label.
Based on the list of texts that students have brainstormed, ask the class to discuss the skills that are necessary to interact with them. To streamline the discussion, ask students to brainstorm verbs that describe such interactions (e.g., analyze, view, listen).
Next, ask students to brainstorm verbs that describe how the various items have been created (e.g., write, compose, draw, design).
Briefly review the three lists—the list of items, the verbs for interacting with them, and the verbs for creating them. Make any additions or revisions.
Keeping in mind the lists that they have brainstormed, ask each student to answer the following prompt on a sheet of paper to be handed in: What is literacy in today's world?
After students have had time to complete their answers, collect the responses for use during the next class session.

Part Two:

Begin the session by asking students, individually or in small groups, to share items from their inventories, which they compiled for homework.
As students talk about these texts, ask them to identify specific ways that they interacted with individual texts. For instance, a student discussing a video game might identify reviewing the visual layout of the game on the screen, analyzing the graphic images that illustrate the game, listening to the sound effects that accompany various actions in the game, and skimming the text that appears on the screen.
Pass out the compiled list of definitions composed by students during the previous session.
In small groups, ask students to read through the list, discussing which elements they feel are most important in a concise definition of literacy, especially in light of the many ways of interacting with texts that they have discovered as they worked on their inventories.
Ask students to take notes on their papers as they discuss, because they will compose a group definition of literacy by the end of the session.
Collect groups’ refined definitions for analysis during the next session.
Explain that during the next session, students will explore whether the collected definitions of literacy fit the ways that they interact with some specific texts.
For homework, ask students to complete a journal entry reflecting on the conversations about text, literacy, and learning in the digital age
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