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Generation LinuX, Part 2--Web Research - page 2

Web Research Skills are Important

  • March 30, 2006
  • By Rob Reilly

Although the Web seems second nature to you and I, it's not intuitive to kids.

A good way to start is to explain that a browser is simply the program used to display a page from a Web server. You can talk about how a Web server constructs a page and makes it available on the Internet, so a browser can display it. The child will be amazed that there are thousands of Web servers, in every country on Earth. Show them a few. After they are comfortable with the browser, let them click while you direct.

Another important point to emphasize is that the URL, typed into the address line in the browser is the address of that "page" on the Web. Kids should know that a URL could be a Web page address, a local file, an image, or any number of other information sources.

We shouldn't leave out that fundamental building block of the Web, the link. Talk to them about the different types of links, like images, text, and so on.

After the basics, kids can start learning ways to speed up their surfing and information discovery. Take text highlighting. With their great eye/hand coordination, they'll be highlighting, copying, and pasting text, in no time. They'll be able to pull text off of a Web page and stick it into another application, like OpenOffice.org Writer. Highlighting also makes it possible for the Konqueror browser to read text to your child, using the Festival speech synthesizer. Find it under Tools and Speak Text. Highlighting is also good for grabbing links.

Once a kid knows about browsers, servers, and URL boxes they can be on the lookout for interesting Web addresses and URLs in everyday life. Teach them to make note of Web sites, when they are out and around, so they can later find them when they get on the computer.

It's important to teach patience, when navigating, to a kid. Wide variations in website response times can make jumping from site to site frustrating.

Likewise, fast networks and computers make a big difference in keeping a kid's attention and lowering their frustration levels. Kids frequently push keys or make multiple mouse clicks, when impatient, and cause the wait to be longer. An antique machine with 64 MB of memory and a creaky old 200-mHz processor is not going to be that great for Web browsing, even with a hot broadband connection.

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