Internet Exploration: Personal & Professional Interest

Effective use of the Net entails finding what you want, when you want it. Generally, when individuals first begin to explore the Net, they search for information that is of personal, rather than professional interest. Such interest may include a good laugh by reading through David Letterman's "Top Ten" list site ("www.cbs.com/lateshow/ttlist.html").The current offerings range from "Top Ten Bad Things About Living Longer" to "Rejected Forrest Gump Sayings." Individuals who want to mix their laughter with a bit of information, could take a look at the "Car Talk" site ("cartalk.com") for a reading of Tom and Ray Magliozzi's (i.e., "Click & Clack") weekly radio show transcripts.

Shopping represents a favorite past time for many Americans and the "Internet Mall" site ("www.internet-mall.com")has been designed to meet all of their buying needs. Stores selling books, fashion, services, food, travel, etc., can be browsed for hours with little effort and no aching feet! Couch potatoes in the group can track TV programming and news at the "Ultimate TV" Web site ("www.ultimatetv.com"). The site also gives individuals a chance to participate in live "chats" with other TV enthusiasts around the world. Car buffs can research which cars to buy and which to avoid through a search of the "Edmund's Automobile Buyer's Guide("www.edmunds.com"), followed by a visit to "Dealer Net" ("www.dealernet.com")to actually look over the cars that\ they might want to purchase. Still other individuals could study the religions of the world from Buddhism to Zoroastrianism at Yahoo's religion index("www.yahoo.com/Society_and_Culture/Religion"), or simply keep track of the day's events by reading the Boston Globe ("www.boston.com"), or USA Today("www.usatoday.com").

Once individuals have surfed, or "stumbled-about," the Net for a while, they often begin looking for sites that represent a professional, yet unfocused interest. Such interest may include a search for a particular professional organization (e.g., the "National Education Association" site at "www.nea.org"), or a reference question concerning some Special Education issue (e.g., the "Internet Resources for Special Children" site at "w3.one.net/~julio_c/". Later, the focus may change to wondering what other K-12 schools are on the Net (e.g., "Hillside Elementary School" site at "hillside.coled.umn.edu"), or a search for sites that have been designed especially by and for children (e.g., the "Ultimate Children's Internet Site" at "www.vividus.com/ucis.html". Eventually, most teachers find their way to the "AskERIC Lesson Plan" database site ("ericir.syr.edu/Virtual/Lessons"), or the "Lesson Plans Using the Internet" site ("www.voicenet.com/~reevesk"). Such sites share not only lesson plans, but more importantly, examples of how other educators have begun to use the Net.