I have always loved libraries. As a child I loved the stories, the information, libraries were like a huge treasure hunt, you could search and find wonderful stories, fantastic pictures, and amazing information. Anything seemed possible, everything was available, you just had to know where and how to look.
In 1972 I walked into the Fischer Library at Sydney University as an undergraduate, it was an amazing experience, multiple floors of books, I wandered around for hours trying to make sense of it. Finding the right book at Fischer was even more demanding, large numbers of books were kept in Stack, a restricted area of the library, and needed to be ordered, from library staff, this meant waiting often overnight for your chosen book. Of course gems would more often be found by browsing a Dewey number rather than directly ordering a specific book, so this system was quite a frustration.
Then, working as a research assistant, my searches often extended to the Mitchell Library where stack waits were longer and sometimes took days, and inter-library loans were frequently necessary, sometimes taking weeks. Often books didnt quite contain the information needed making the whole process elongated and tedious. I longed for the old browsing days. For a library with no limitations, time delays, a library where I could browse and find just the right information.
Then came the Internet. I still think its incredible. The resources of Fischer library, the Mitchell Library and millions and millions of other resources, all available for the canny researcher at the click of a mouse. No more three floors up, or ladders to climb no more waiting for Stack Librarians. I still find it incredible, astounding and empowering to have such a wonderful resource available at my fingertips.
It is amazing to think that the Internet as we know it today, has only been around since 1995*, but its impact on popular culture has been pervasive, with computer speak like net-surfing, superhighway, internet, email, dot.com, cyberspace, browser, all common place.
But what is it, this World Wide Web?
Is it the Worlds Biggest Encyclopaedia?
Is it full of USELESS junk?
Is it the Promised Information Superhighway?
No, It is not an encylcopedia, though encyclopedias can be found on the web. It is chaotic and disorganised, there are no central indexes or cross referencing. Some webpages contain information from well researched credible sources written by professionals others are written by individuals and can be opinionated, biased unresearched, and unreliable. In truth anyone can write a webpage.
No, It is not full of useless junk, though a lot of useless junk can be found on the web. This is because the web is so huge, there is almost everything you can think of there. Undesirable junk, which tends to make media headlines, right alongside of brilliant sites like the Discovery Channel, http://www.discovery.com/ Zoom School, http://www.enchantedlearning.com/Home.html NineMSN, http://search.ninemsn.com.au/ and CNN, http://www.cnn.com/ which give up to date news coverage, and of course the recent Olympic site, http://www.olympics.com
No, it is not a superhighway, though enormous amounts of facts and figures can be sound on the web on almost every topic. The Australian Bureau of Statistics http://www.abs.gov.au/
is a wonderful resource for Australian Facts and figures.
The web is much more than all these things, its about people and sharing ideas, its dynamic, and changing, and yes chaotic, it is not dead, it is alive and breathing and changing. The most powerful thing is that individuals can change it, add to it and interact with it Netizens need to develop heightened search skills using key words and often lateral thinking, they need to scrutinise everything, and question the source and possible bias present. They need to develop critical thinking skills and evaluate the information they are viewing. They will also need to compare and contrast similar material written from many sources.
So what is it this virtual web world, this Internet, this World Wide Web this
IT IS a reflection of the real world we live in. A real world where there is chaos, hidden agendas, opposing opinions, and yes encyclopaedias, libraries, news services, facts and figures and institutions of learning and knowledge. When you connect to the internet, you invite the world into your classroom, a virtual world which is a training ground for the real world your students live in. Where do you think your students would like be?
In my particular real world I attended an inservice given by David Bennet of the wonderful St Johns Ambulance, after listening to David I decided to turn to the internet to see what was available online.
So is there a Doctor in the Mouse?
OF COURSE THERE IS. And much much more besides.
The St Johns Ambulance Australia site http://www.ambulance.net.au/fr-simpaid.html offers comprehensive First Aid information. The information is presented simply and efficiently, and the online quiz is suitable for both teachers and upper primary students. An alternate St Johns Ambulance site at http://www.stjohn.org.au/ contains First Aid information in PDF format** , which makes printing a hard copy much easier.
To make this site even more meaningful for students I have prepared some worksheets to guide their investigations. One of the five worksheets appears opposite, the rest can be downloaded at http://www.virtualteacher.com.au/firstaid.pdf While it is important to stress that students must seek adult assistance when First Aid is required, it is also important to note that the First Aid knowledge learned here, may save lives..
In addition to First Aid sites, there are also many sites that deal with other medical problems children may have including allergies http://www.allergicchild.com/Alliebook.htm and ADHD http://www.afraidtoask.com/ADHD/intro.html. And if you are still unsure about a medical problem,you can always ask Dr Roby at http://www.onlineallergycenter.com/feedback.htm
There is a vast array of sites giving specific information on all manner of diseases like the Medical Online site at http://www.medicalonline.com.au/medical/disease_index/general/
and of course our own Good Medicine site at http://lifestyle.ninemsn.com.au/goodmedicine/
There IS a Doctor in the mouse, as well as a teacher, a real-estate agent, a greengrocer and a supermarket, online games, statistics, rubbish, radio stations, TV stations, information on just about everything, all there at the click of a mouse. The Internet has revolutionised our world, it allows unprecedented communication and interaction, individuals can communicate directly with scientists, mathematicians, doctors, writers and Prime Ministers, they can access primary source materials, they can read silly nonsense or undisputed fact.
The Internet has revolutionised our world and is revolutionising our schools
*A Brief History of the Internet
**.pdf format Ñ Portable Document Format is produced by Adobe. The reader can downloaded from:-
Other websites worth investigating
Milk Allergy and Lactose Intolerance
No Nuts for Me
Mastering food allergies
Online Allergy Centre