One of the most exciting educational aspects of using the Internet lies in its ability to open the classroom to the world. Learning about different countries and cultures becomes even more meaningful when students can easily communicate with people internationally. Communication via the Internet can occur in many different ways including email and chat rooms. Although the diverse nature of topics available on the Internet can enhance the learning experience, students need to be aware of safety issues when interacting with others online.

This chapter discusses the social nature of the Internet, focusing on topics such as Internet etiquette, confidentiality, and safety. It is important for students and teachers to be informed of these issues when using the Internet for telecommunications.

Guidelines for Internet safety

Although a valuable instructional tool in the classroom, the Internet does comes with some real dangers. Keeping in mind a few simple precautions will help protect students from potential dangers. It is important to supervise the students as they begin their journey on the Internet. One way to facilitate the students in their learning process is to provide safe and valuable sites. Emphasize to students that information on the Internet is posted by both reliable and unreliable sources.

Safety Tips for kids on the Internet

Information provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Acceptable Use Policy

It is important to develop a clear set of standards and expectations for use of the Internet in the classroom. You should first check with your district or school to see if there is an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) already in place. If an AUP is not in place, then you should develop one in collaboration with students, other faculty, parents, and administrators. An AUP makes the school community aware of the responsibilities involved in using the Internet.

The National Education Association (NEA) suggests that an effective AUP contain the following six elements:

Collaborating outside of the classroom

Internet learning communities are designed to facilitate conversations in multiple directions. Through email, videoconferencing, and chat room conversations, students connect and communicate with multiple audiences. Students now have the opportunity to reach fellow students and mentors throughout the world. Collaboration with fellow students, faculty, and experts of all nations can become an everyday experience.

Introduction to email
One form of communication beyond the classroom is electronic messages. These messages can be sent from computers that are connected to the Internet. These electronic mail messages are known as email. Email messages can be addressed to an individual, a group, or an entire organization.

An email address is comprised of two parts. The first part is the unique username of a person. This is the part of the address on the left hand side of the @ (at) symbol. The second part of the address is on the right hand side. This tells the address of the system that is responsible for that individual's email. It can be seen as:

Email plays an important role as a vehicle of communication with cultures and communities. Students can communicate instantly through email and receive prompt feedback on how well their messages are understood. They need not wait for a penpal's letter to cross an ocean or for the potential visit of an international student to their classroom. The content of an email is usually text, but can also include images, audio, video, and program files as attachments.

Video conferencing
Another form of communication on the Internet is video conferencing. This form of communication enables you to view, talk, and chat live with new friends from around the world. Initially, video conferencing involved communication between only two computer users, but there are now programs available that allow you to connect multiple participants.

Video conferencing is a very attractive form of communication. However, in a school district it can be very difficult to use because it requires high bandwidth to be effective. Bandwidth is the rate the data is transferred over a connection. Although low bandwidth connections will often result in a less satisfactory experience, they still can be used productively in a classroom.

Chat groups
Chat groups are a more dynamic form of communication than email. Persons involved in a chat group can simultaneously participate in a discussion over a particular "channel," or even multiple channels. To participate in a chat group, you simply log into the chat room, then begin conversing by typing messages that can be seen by other users. The main advantage of a chat group is that it takes place in real time, requiring active participation. Although chat rooms can offer tremendous opportunities for a classroom, they must be closely monitored.


As the Internet includes a global community, students need to be aware of behavioral standards. Proper Internet etiquette is often referred to as Netiquette. Students and teachers can avoid embarrassing situations by adhering to some simple guidelines for electronic communication. The following is a list of standards for Netiquette:

:-) Happy
:-( Sad
;-) Winking
:-o Surprised
:-@ Screaming
:-I Indifferent
:-e Disappointed
:-< Mad
:-D Laughing

Children's Online Privacy Protection Act

In October 1998, Congress passed the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), with the requirement that the Federal Trade Commission address and enforce rules concerning children's online privacy. The law went into effect on April 21, 2000. For more information, visit COPPA.

Below are some of the provisions of COPPA:

|| Contents || Internet Basics || Becoming Good Netizens || Productivity Tools ||
|| Communication Tools || Research Tools || Problem-Solving Tools || Appendices ||

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