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This is a memo I distributed to our faculty:

Reflections from the Front Line:
OR, A bucket of Cold Water

By Carole H. Carpenter

        Our high school now has a wonderful tool for learning which,
if used correctly, could provide more information to students and
teachers than has ever been available before.  However, there
are some cautions we all need to consider before discarding older
sources of information.  Keep in mind that at this point the number of
Internet workstations is small and the amount of time is limited.
It would be unfair and unrealistic to expect an entire class to acquire
Internet documents.  Please keep these points in mind:

1.  Contracts.  Not all students have or will have Internet privileges.
There parents who do not want to expose their children to the filth
which is  available on the Net. Therefore, you should be extremely
careful about allowing students to partner with other students or
yourself.  Do not make Internet use a requirement of any assignment.

2.  Availability.  The program "Netscape" is quirky and does not always
work properly.  In addition, as more and more schools come online, the
state's system response time slows down.  Therefore, even students who
have Internet privileges may be unable to connect to anything useful due
to technical difficulties.

3.  Scheduling.  The four Internet workstations are not dedicated to that
use.  They must also be available for students looking up books, typing
papers, and exploring careers.  When teachers schedule library time they
expect the computers to be reserved for their students.  Do not release
students to the library with hallpasses simply because they want to play
on the Net.

4.  Pornography and obscene language.  They are easily found on the Net.
When you are in the library, please help monitor what your students are
doing.  Chat lines are not a productive use of time.

5.  Expectations.  Some students will try to convince you that everything
is available on the Net.  This is not true.  There is a lot of a material
about popular culture and the sciences.  Less is available about the
Humanities.  Do not allow students to waste time looking for information
which is readily available in the library.  Using the Internet to find
basic information is like driving to a distant mall to buy a bottle of
milk.  It is silly, wasteful, and inefficient.

6.  Socializing.  Searching becomes a group activity.  Vast amounts of
time are wasted by both searchers and observers.

7.  Reliability.  Finding information on the Net in no way guarantees its
validity.  Hackers can and do alter data all the time.  Documents from a
twelve year old's homepage should not be given equal weight with
information from reliable sources.  Students will need a great deal of
guidance learning to make such discriminations.  Some college professors
will not accept Internet sources on research papers for this reason.

8.  Search strategy.  Students will need help formulating their
searches.  Each search engine (Webcrawler, Lycos, etc.) reacts
differently to keywords.  Poor search strategies will result in
frustration and wasted time.

     We are at the beginning of a cultural phenomenon.  Just as radio
survived the advent of television and video, so will books probably
survive the coming of the Net.  (Magazines may not, however.)  It is good
that some of our students can add netsurfing to their skills.  We must
work to insure that they use this skill appropriately and judiciously to
further their education.

     Carole H. Carpenter         chcrpntr@strauss.udel.edu
     Milford Sr. H.S.
     Milford, DE

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