The Multimedia Lab at Classical HS currently has four machines which access the Internet. Within the next few months Classical will be installing a full-time, high-speed (384K) connection to the building which each machine will access. The project is to develop a visually enticing, media rich, Internet tool. This guide will focus on four areas -- e-mail, usenet, the world-wide-web, and ISPs. It will not only give the basics of user interactions but also provide metaphoric representations of the underlying principles. In this way the emphasis will be on explaining how the tools work as opposed to just how to use them.
We will have several modes including "tour," "browse," and "search." The tour mode will have a story line to introduce each topic. Although there will be a story to motivate the explanation of each topic, it is crucial that this mode is still interactive and leads the user through simulations and explanations of what happens when a user sends an e-mail, or looks up pages on the web, or uses a independent provider to access the Internet.
The browse and search modes will also be available for users who wish to use the tool as a reference guide. Users can use these modes presumably after going through the tour to quickly jump to specific details as they continue to use tools in the lab. The search mode will allow the user to scan through keywords or topics just as one might use a glossary or an index. The browse mode will be used to find a keyword and jump to the correct place within the general tour.
Overall we are aiming to answer questions such as "What is the Internet?", "What does the global network look like (symbolically)?", "How does AOL (or other ISP's) relate to and differ from the Internet?", "What happens when I click send in my e-mail client?", " What is a file download, and how does it work?", and "How is a Web page set up and how is it accessed?" Possible development tools include HTML, Java, or Hypercard stacks which can be placed onto the web.
We plan to meet as a group weekly, especially at the beginning as we figure out how to delegate work and then to check our progress. We also hope to meet with our teacher approximately once every two weeks. We will also be keeping in touch over e-mail and we hope to visit the lab while students are there in order to observe them and later to get feedback on our project.