a university of arizona course on methods and approaches for studying
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This guide will help you
understand the basic concepts and how to navigate Internet. The approach here
is toward understanding key principles with only a few actual addresses. Internet
capability and specific addresses change fairly rapidly, so it is important
to understand the framework of how Internet operates.
- Internet is a communications
device that allows many applications to use it for making connections
- The most common applications
for you are electronic mail and the world wide web. Your most common software
will be an electronic mail program and a web browser to access the web.
- The world wide web can
give you information in a multimedia format -- text, graphics,
audio, sound, animation, and video. These features can be extended by interactive
discussions (simultaneously or over a period of time), or have 3-D features.
Often when people refer to "Internet" they really mean the "world
wide web" application running over Internet.
- You should learn how
to take advantage of the many Internet features and contents
but not get lost in the massive amount of detail.
Skip this section if you
do not access Internet from your own computer.
- The two most common browsers
are made by Microsoft and Netscape. To use them from home you will need a
special connection (a PPP account) from an Internet Service Provider (ISP).
There are several national ISP's and many local ones; check your computer
center for advice on both an ISP and recommended electronic mail programs.
- If you are using a text
based browser (e.g., Lynx - these are very old now) or text electronic mail
program (e.g., Pine), you cannot read graphics and will have difficulty taking
advantage of what Internet has to offer.
- Try to use graphic browsers
and off-line electronic mail programs that feature off-line reading/composing
so you can easily and rapidly receive and send your mail once you are connected.
for New Users
Begin by using a public
access computer rather than your own to avoid complexities due to setup issues
or proper software.
- Gain an overall "feel"
for what is on the world wide web. Before you worry about why certain commands
are used or trying to become efficient, take some time to explore the new
territory you are entering.
- Go to a new page by selecting
(clicking) a link (highlighted words) and move back to the previous page by
the BACK button.
- After moving through
several pages, use the GO button to "go back" to to earlier
- Explore with the search
tool in your browser (use the search or directory button).
- Look around for a subject
of interest and take time to look over the range of information that exists
- Find a few sites you
find interesting and gain familiarity with their content and how you got there.
- Find a newspaper and
a university you are familiar with and read their home pages.
- Look around for sites
in different countries and check several news media sources.
- Try the non-subject areas
of your browser such as random links or cool sites menu items.
- Once you feel comfortable
with moving around Internet and the types of information available, try searching
for something on your own and then begin learning how to be an efficient user
Working With Your
Take time to get familiar
with your browser. It gives you ways to access almost everything. In addition
to serving as the primary navigation tool, the browser allows you to:
Use various search services.
- Find subject areas and
new and unusual web locations.
- Upload (if the Internet
application allows this) and download files (to your computer).
- Update versions of your
browser (Internet Explorer is free and Netscape is free to students).
- Get mail (if the browser
is set up to use your name).
Try out the browser:
- Get in and get out of
the browser (start and close the browser program)
- Look over the various
browser buttons by pressing them to see what shows up.
- Get comfortable with
the BACK, HOME, SEARCH (or DIRECTORY), and FAVORITES (or BOOKMARKS),
REFRESH (or RELOAD), GO, and STOP buttons/menu items.
- Read the HELP item for
an overview of what it contains, but normally only use help to address an
immediate problem that occurs.
Some things you can
- Set the browser options
to be personalized for your preferences
- Using mail and news with
- Internet --- The
"communications" link. Applications of various types run on Internet
- WWW --- World Wide
Web. An application that runs on Internet. What many people really mean when
they say "get on Internet".
- URL --- Uniform Resource
Locator - the address of a specific page, like your PO Box or street address.
- Home Page --- The
"first" page that comes up when you start your browser (you can
change this), or the "primary" page of a particular site.
- Page --- An address on
the world wide web that is displayed in your window.
- HTML --- HyperText Markup
Language - The format for the text portion of Internet documents. You do not
need to know this as a user.
- Reload --- Also called
refresh. You computer stores pages from your previous visits to web pages.
If the page changes since you last saw it, you may have to "refresh or
reload" a new copy.
- Upload --- Move a file
from your computer to the program you are running on Internet.
- Download --- Retrieve
a file from an Internet application to your computer.
- FAQ --- Frequently Asked
Questions. Many sites have these and they provide common questions and answers.
- Telnet --- A way of connecting
to another computer to run a program.
- FTP --- File Transfer
Protocol - used to move files among computers.
- News --- A group discussion
service. One of the early uses of Internet. There is lots of material on many
topics; the material does not stay long (normally a few weeks).
Dissecting and Understanding
Understanding the format
of the URL (the page address) helps you recognize errors in URL's and to take
care in copying these addresses. Some have no file name or directory names (Example
1). Some have a specific file name and include several directories (Example
2). Often, the address includes www in the beginning (for world wide web), but
the trend is to omit it, so increasingly sites are registering the address with
and without the www (for clarity of communication, leaving off the www improves
It is important to use the
full address and pay attention to the ending (endings can be htm, html, or
even other forms designating the type of file). Also note the case (upper or
lower case) of each letter.
- Frequently web addresses
begin with www (for world wide web); increasingly this historical term is
omitted. The address indicates the type of site - gov (U.S. Government), com
(commercial), edu (education), org (organization) in the United States or
indicates the country (uk for United Kingdom and de for Germany [Deutschland]);
increasingly the United States is doing this too (us). In 2001 additional
designations were made (including use of more than 3 characters), such as:
museum and info.
Example (and useful)
A good way to find relevant
locations is to use the subject indexes of the search device incorporated into
your browser. Once you gain some familiarity with Internet subjects and formats
you can find things on your own and use your preferred search device. Some examples
of locations (URL's) are:
How to Function
in an Internet World by Thinking Differently
Internet is just a new way
of finding information. To be an efficient user you need to find only what you
want and to determine the good from the bad.
The ways to become an effective
user are to learn to think differently and to learn a few new tools.
- non-linear thinking is the key.
- Move from one location
directly to another location anywhere in the world. These moves occur by linking
an address within your page to the desired location so the movement is transparent
to you. The addresses of these locations are called URL's (uniform resource
- link to anything, anywhere, anytime.
- Your learning opportunities
are distributed widely. The information you want may come from widely different
places and have different degrees of accuracy and usefulness.
A New Toolbox but Not
New Ideas - Learn to use the new tools for old applications.
- You already know a lot
about finding information in the library or newspaper. Transfer those familiar
techniques to the Internet but recognize you will need a new toolbox. Like
any new set of tools, you should acquaint yourself with their uses and also
practice using them.
Building Your Confidence
Start slowly and learn
only what you need to barely function
- Then learn a little more
once you know you can do the basics.
Increase your knowledge
by building on what you already know from other contexts.
- For example, libraries
are a place to store and retrieve information. Consider Internet just a very
big library. What you learned for using libraries is directly applicable to
Internet. You just have to use a little larger framework (the world rather
than the building). It will take a little practice with this new "library"
before you become an effective user.
Keep Learning -- change
is happening very quickly.
- New information sources
are added to Internet at a frightening pace and new capabilities evolve quickly.
Allow yourself time to explore some of the new features as you become familiar
with the basics. It is a good investment for your future.
into an Efficient (or Expert) User
Even the experts can use
more understanding of Internet features.
- Even relatively new users
can become efficient users.
- First get comfortable
with Internet features and understand the framework for Internet use.
- Know the appropriate
tools (for you) to put in your toolbox of techniques.
- Invest some time to explore
and find new Internet possibilities.
- Take advantage of the
shortcuts (see below).
- Bookmarks/favorites listing
are very useful as time savers.
Being an expert on Internet
use is a transient activity. It is so large and it changes so rapidly that you
can never know everything. It is easy to get comfortable in a routine
that addresses your everyday needs and think you are an expert. You need to
keep on you toes so you can be ready to look into new areas. Continue to explore
and try new things even after you feel you know how to use Internet.
- Use advanced search techniques
(e.g., Boolean and ways of excluding and including).
- Run programs or models
at a remote site.
- Try groupware (news,
The FAQ listing is a common
Internet term. A number of sites will have a "faq" about there site.
Here is one on Internet in general, showing the general format.
- How do I connect to Internet?
-- Consult your university of college computer center or work with one of
the national providers. You will need a special account (PPP) but you can
use your existing phone line, modem and computer.
- How can I have my own
"home page"? -- Essentially all Internet providers allow you to
have a home page. They will give you instructions on preparing and using that
- What type of computer
do I need? -- Any computer should work. You will need a modem of at least
14,000 baud to take advantage of the graphics on Internet.
- How do I get to a "web
site"? -- Use a browser and a correct address (url).
- How can I research a
topic or find "useful" information? -- Use several search devices
(all give slightly different results) and refine your search as you see the
results. This will target more precisely what you are really looking for.
- How can I learn enough
to understand people's instructions on using Internet? -- The material in
this summary will give you all you need. If you do not understand a direction
from someone, ask for clarification. You can waste a lot of time on Internet
if you are not clear on the basics.
- How can I use a web browser
effectively and efficiently? -- Try all the features to know what is there.
If you only try a few you will not take advantage of the browser. Use the
help button on your browser for answering specific questions.
- When there are choices,
like search programs, how do you select one over another? -- You should try
several on your own but also listen to the experiences of others.
- How do I get started?
-- Do not be afraid, just start! It is easier to do this in a public access
area rather than your own computer so you can ask for help and avoid any problems
related to your not knowing how to access Internet.
- Don't type http:// as
part of the URL; all graphic browsers automatically insert it.
- Use your browser's bookmarks
or favorites list to catalog addresses used frequently.
- Don't worry about keeping
track of everything you might want to read again. Learn how to search for
it as if it were a new item -- don't store it, look it up when you need it.
- Make yourself a home
page with the most often used links (e.g., search services, class pages, reference
collections and libraries, subject matter lists). This allows you to go to
your own high interest sites easily and quickly.
- Place your home page
on your Internet Service Provider server rather than your hard disk so you
can access from anywhere (and not just from your computer).
- Cutting and pasting within
windows or Macintosh is done easily for conferencing or electronic mail programs.
- Using electronic mail
via your browser on public access computers -- someone can use the browser
after you and send a message in your name.
- Broken or changed links
-- some sites change often and may not have the new address listed. The solution
is to just go to a different site that has similar information.
- Old links that appear
current -- some search programs and some sites have "old" listings.
You may think the link is a good one but when you actually take it you find
it is broken. Get irritated for a moment and then move on to new things.
- Using News Groups --
these last only a few weeks and have lots of turnover for many groups. They
have a lot of good information if you are focused on the news group but they
can take a lot of time otherwise.
- Disconnecting without
warning -- sometimes a connection breaks or a particular page cannot be found.
The solution is to refresh or download the page or use STOP (to stop the transfer)
and try it a gain.
- Slow connections -- this
can occur at high use times of day or when a section of Internet (at your
location or internationally) is down. The solution is usually to just try
Practice Time -
Try a search device to do
these problems. There are many such devices and you can start with the ones
linked to your browsers "search" button. Solutions are given on the
bottom of page (some solutions have more than one address). Hints are given
along with the answers.
- The world population
for "today" (the day you search)
- The toll free number
of a company of your interest
- A listing of earthquake
information and events
- The National Renewable
Solutions for problem sets
(or use a good search engine to look for other answers - e.g., google.com
- notice I left off the http:// and the www, as google is registered for the
sort and simple name)
(hint: look up U.S. Bureau of Census (www.census.gov)
(hint: look in search device directories or try www.att.com)
(hint: look for earthquake and lists)
(hint: look for "national renewable energy laboratory)
Updated January 2002 by
Roger L. Caldwell - firstname.lastname@example.org.
Return to "Anticipating
the Future" course home page
Prepared by Roger L. Caldwell