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Glossary

BROWSER

A software product that lets you find, see, and hear material on the World Wide Web, including text, graphics, sound, and video. Popular browsers are Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer. Most commercial services have their own browsers.


CD-ROMs

A computer disk that can store large amounts of information; generally used on computers with CD-ROM drives. CD-ROM stands for Compact Disk Read Only Memory. That means it can only play back information, not record or save material.


CHAT ROOMS

They allow users to communicate with each other in "real time" (or "live"), as opposed to delayed time as with e-mail. A user enters a chat room (usually defined by topic), types a message into the computer, and sends it, and it is instantly displayed on the screens of the other users in the chat room. Admission is generally not restricted. You never know who's going to be reading your messages or responding to them, so it is best to be cautious.


COMMERCIAL SERVICE

General term for large online services (e.g., America Online, CompuServe, Microsoft Network, Prodigy). These services are like special clubs that require membership dues. Besides providing access to the Internet, commercial services have lots of content, games, and chat rooms that are available only to members.


CYBERSPACE

General term used to refer to the electronic "areas" and communities existing on the Internet and other computer networks, as well as to the culture that is developing around them.


DISCUSSION GROUP

An area online focused on a specific topic where users can read and add comments. You can find discussion groups for almost any topic!


E-MAIL

"Electronic Mail." A way of sending messages electronically from one computer user to another. Users can send memos, letters, and other word-based messages, as well as multimedia documents. This requires having a modem, a telephone line connected to your computer, and an e-mail address (recognizable because of the "@" symbol, such as president@whitehouse.gov).


FAQ

A list of "Frequently Asked Questions" about a specific Web site, mailing list, product or game. Reading the FAQ is a great idea when you are new to a site, mailing list, or product.


FREE-NET/COMMUNITY NETWORK

A community network that provides free or substantially reduced online access, usually to local residents. Free-nets originally focused on providing text-based access to local information and discussions; now more are providing additional services, such as full access to the Internet.


HARDWARE

The nuts, bolts, and wires. The actual computer and related machines such as scanners and printers.


HOME PAGE

The site that is the starting point on the World Wide Web for a particular group or organization. Also used to refer to the default page for your own browser.


HTML

"Hypertext Markup Language." A document format used on the World Wide Web. Text documents must be converted to HTML in order to be readable on the Web.


HYPERLINK (like HYPERTEXT)

An easy method of retrieving information by choosing highlighted and underlined words in text on the screen. The words link to other documents with related subject matter.


INFORMATION LITERACY

The ability to find, process, and evaluate the information individuals need to be lifelong learners equipped for the workplace in the Information Age. As information increasingly is stored and transmitted electronically, information technology skills are becoming more important.


INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY (ISH)

A term popularized by Vice President Al Gore. The Information Superhighway is envisioned as a global high-speed network of computers that serves thousands of users simultaneously, transmitting e-mail, multimedia files, voice, and video. The system links homes, offices, schools, libraries, and medical centers, so that textual and audiovisual information can be instantly accessed and transmitted from one computer screen to another. (See NII.)


INTERNET

The largest network of computer networks in the world.


ISP

Internet Service Provider. A generic term for any company that can connect you directly to the Internet, usually for under $20 per month. Distinguished from the commercial services which link to the Internet, but also offer additional services only available to their subscribers.


MODEM

A device which allows computers to communicate with each other over telephone lines or other delivery systems. Modems change digital signals to telephone signals for transmission and then back to digital signals. Modems come in different speeds: the higher the speed, the faster the data are transmitted. The fastest commercially available modems are "56K" (or 56 kilobits per second).


MOUSE

A small device attached to your computer by a cord, which lets you give commands to the computer.


MULTIMEDIA

A combination of two or more types of information such as text, audio, video, graphics, and images.


NET, THE

A colloquial term that is often used to refer to the entirety of cyberspace, the Internet, commercial services, Free-Nets, etc.


NETIQUETTE

The rules of cyberspace civility. Usually applied to the Internet, where manners are enforced exclusively by fellow users.


NII

"National Information Infrastructure." The U.S. Government's official term for the "Information Superhighway." In some ways, "infrastructure" is a more accurate description of a wired, interconnected world than the more linear "superhighway."


ONLINE COMMUNICATION

Communicating over the Internet or through a commercial network, usually via a telephone line.


POSTING

The sending of a message to a discussion group or other public message area. The message itself is called a post.


RATING SYSTEMS

Rating systems are used to assess Web site content on a number of different adult themes (e.g., sex, violence, profanity, intolerance). You can limit your child's access to sites with specific ratings by changing the settings on browsers such as Microsoft Internet Explorer. Most parental control products have their own rating systems. Remember, if you are using a rating system, sites that have not been rated may not be accessible.


SEARCH ENGINE

A program found on certain sites that performs searches for information on the Internet based on the words or phrases you supply. Some sites have search engines that only search within their site.


SERVER

A host computer that stores information and/or software programs and makes them available to users of other computers.


SOFTWARE

A computer program; loosely defined, a set of instructions to be used on your hardware. There is "system software" that operates the machine itself (such as Windows and MacOS), and there is "application software" for specific uses-e.g., word processing, playing games, managing your money.


TECHNOLOGY PLAN

A blueprint that guides the building of a technology program in a school, district, or community.


URL

"Uniform Resources Locator." The World Wide Web address of a site on the Internet. For example, the URL for the White House is http://www.whitehouse.gov.


USERID (or User ID)

The unique name given to (or chosen by) a user on some Web sites and commercial systems. The User ID and sometimes an accompanying password is used by the service to allow access to the system and/or to track information about you.


WEB SITES

A location on the World Wide Web that may incorporate graphics, sounds, and links to other sites. Web sites are identified by an online address that starts with "http://" (e.g., http://www.pta.org).


WORLD WIDE WEB

A hypertext-based navigation system on the Internet that lets you browse through a variety of linked resources. Also known as WWW and the Web.


Sources:
Leadership & Technology: What School Board Members Need to Know; America's Children and The Information Superhighway: A Briefing Book and National Action Agenda; NetGuide: Your Complete Guide to the Internet and Online Services, A Michael Wolff Book; and online computer dictionaries.

 


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