The WWW in Education


Daniel Schneider & Daniel Peraya,
Faculté de Psychologie et des Sciences de l'Education,
Université de Geneve, Switzerland.
9 route de Drize, CH-1227 Carouge
Phone: +41 22 70 9694


The "World Wide Web" (WWW) is a distributed hypermedia system that runs over the Internet. The World-Wide Web was conceived by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN in 1989 as an information integrator within which all available information on the Internet could be accessed in a simple and consistent way on every kind of machine architecture. A standard WWW browser (i.e. the client program for the WWW) can access at least the following communication protocols: HTTP (WWW's Hypertext Transfer Protocol), FTP, NNTP, WAIS and Gopher. Within some limits, a WWW browser can also launch local applications with data retrieved from a server. Finally, the "forms" interface allows in principle access to any kind of external program running on a server.

These combined possibilities give the WWW great potential in various educational systems, such as distance education, open learning and more traditional setups. The WWW delivers information to the learner in an easy way and supports the implementation of more sophisticated computer mediated communication functionalities such as dynamic hypertext, question/answer programs and asynchronous conferencing systems.

We will discuss how the WWW is currently being used in education and what its potential is. There are two promising main areas. The first concerns educational information systems (including distribution of learning materials) and the second relates to various asynchronous communication systems that can be built on top of the Web and that facilitate cooperation among actors. It is not clear yet what role the WWW should play in a global educational environment. Clearly, the WWW has its technical limits. It is not particularly well suited for interactive courseware. Also, it does not cover all the necessary features of an electronic classroom. Therefore, the use of supplementary tools is suggested.

Students don't learn just by browsing hypermedia. The Web is a great information and communication tools, but it is neither a substitute for really interactive courseware nor for real-time computer-mediated human tutoring.

The WWW in Education

Abstract - 14 FEB 95

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