Lesson Three: more on links

  1. activity: image maps
  2. "saying" URLs; laying groudwork for URL explanation.
  3. analogy: URLs are kind of like phone numbers
  4. typing in location window
  5. activity: pull down menu links
  6. unexpected problems
  7. unexpected good things

First, the students did the "Homepage of O" activity. Some of them had seen image map links in Lesson 2, so for them it was a review lesson.

After they were finished, I asked them to backtrack to the activity page, and had them read the address to me. As they read it to me, spelling out things like "users", I said the word. When they spelled out "billp," I said "Bill, that's me. Bill Pellowe." This is laying the groundwork for discussions of the meanings of URLs later in the term.

I took the opportunity to tell them that these addresses are more like phone numbers than house addresses. If house addresses are written in all capital letters, for example, or written slightly wrong, the letter still gets to its destination. However, if the URL is written with similar mistakes, it is kind of like a wrong phone number.

The page they were on at the time ended in "course/ch1p8.html". I told them that "ch1" stood for "chapter one", and "p8" was "page eight". I told them to click two or three times on the address, and use their arrow buttons to erase the 8, then insert a 9, and hit "enter". Some students needed help in doing this; others simply needed assurance that they were doing the right thing. This lead them to their second activity.

The second activity covered a trickier type of link, the pull down menu type. 5 or 6 of the 13 students had a little difficulty in understanding what they were supposed to do once they got to the CNN weather page. For those who finished early, I told them (one by one) that they could either see the weather for other cities they're interested in, or explore other parts of the CNN site. The most popular destinations were Entertainment and Travel.

All of the students were able to cover the material in time. Nearly all were able to do extra exploring on their own. Although almost half needed some extra help for the first pull-down menu, none needed help for the second or third.

Unexpected Problems

I'd wanted to have the students turn on the computers by themselves, but many of our computers are having problems. The computer lab was set up very recently, and not all of the computers can actually connect to the Internet. (The problems will be fixed soon.) So, I accessed the initial activity for the students before they came to class to ensure that the connections were good.

Two computers which worked yesterday were not connecting today. This meant that more students were isolated, unable to sit next to other students. The students sitting alone experienced the most difficulties; it was quite a drawback. I'd realized early in the planning stages that the students' language abilities would vary; however, allowing groupwork would help overcome any problems or barriers.

Also, the options in Netscape on some machines were set to show a warning before submitting forms; this meant that some students were faced with a Security Warning the first time they hit the "Go" button. I told the individuals how to turn it off, and said, basically, it meant nothing to them right now.

Unexpected Good Things

Let's also focus on good things. A few who finished quickly were doing extra exploring, such as looking up the weather in places they were interested in, or reading stories on CNN, such as the stories about Michael Jackson's wax figure double and Brooke Sheild's wedding this past Saturday.

(c) Bill Pellowe
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