New York City
March 2003

Internet Education Tools Pick Up Where Schools Fall Short
By Del Williams

In today’s information-based economy, the truth is that simply reading, writing, and arithmetic at grade level isn’t enough anymore. To be prepared for college and a satisfying career, your child must be able to draw on a variety of information resources to problem solve, usually in cooperation with others. Today, despite grade level, this means using the Internet. As Sen. Bob Kerry (D-Neb), Chairman of the Congressional Web-based Education Commission said, “We must immediately put to rest the notion that the full development of web-based technology for education is a choice. Our economy demands a technology-savvy workforce.”

Unfortunately, the Internet isn’t a safe or effective place for kids to “surf” without guidance. Parents and teachers struggle to keep kids away from online pornography and other inappropriate content without limiting access to educational material. “Many kids are savvy Internet users today and have learned not to give out names or addresses,” said Sherry Hetherington, a veteran Library Media Specialist at Summit High School in Frisco, CO for over 20 years. “But even simple questions can be revealing, especially in the context of chat rooms. ‘Do you wear Brittany Spear T-shirts?’ or ‘Where do you work out?’ could be innocent banter or the work of a pedophile.”

Furthermore, in some respects the Internet is too much of a good thing for students, parents, and teachers who are usually looking for specific bits of info that are difficult to find with simple search terms. An estimated four million new web pages are added to the Internet daily. The best search engines manage to stay on top of those exploding numbers by returning more hits with each search - often thousands of links that must be sorted through for usable results.

Under Hetherington’s guidance, Summit High School - like over 2,300 schools nationally and internationally - turned to INET Library, on online resource that culls the very best educational websites from cyberspace and actually writes a mini review, developed by Inventive Communications in Wayne, Nebraska. INET Library, an online database linking almost 300,000 quality educational sites, rates each chosen site on a 5-star system for quality by a professional staff of teachers, librarians, and educators. Inappropriate material such as porn or violence is screened out so teachers and parents can turn kids loose on the Internet with a clear conscience.

Once Hetherington decided to put INET Library as well as several common search engines to a practical test. “I put myself in the situation many students find themselves in: having a paper due tomorrow that needed to be researched and written with credible sources,” she says. “The goal was to have five usable sources within 45 minutes. Using typical search engines, at the end of 45 minutes, I had nothing. I could’ve spent hours reviewing the 20,000 plus results before coming up with one or two usable sources. With INET Library, I found five good sources within 15 minutes.”

For those who don’t have thousands of dollars to buy the latest research and resource materials, INET Library’s Research Section brings 19 up-to-date resources to your computer including calculators, dictionaries, encyclopedias, thesauri, maps, almanacs, quizzes, quotations, demographics, homework help, and more. Comprehensive updated research on every country from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe puts the international community at your fingertips and makes expensive and often outdated maps and atlases unnecessary.

Of great use to students of any age, nearly 100 of the best homework help sites are assembled for easy access. Some of these sites offer online help from a certified teacher. In addition, homework and research help is available from INET staff members within 24 hours by email every weekday.

Late-breaking reports on local, national, and international news developments are updated every two hours directly on the INET Library homepage for the latest in current events for Social Studies or Political Science projects or assignments. Moreover, 4,000 magazines and periodicals are available for research including over 700 daily newspapers and current editions of online magazines ranging from Newsweek, Wired, and Travel and Leisure to Scientific American and Education Week, with most archived at their website.

“The sites found within the College Assessment section of INET Library provide the most current and reliable information on ACT and SAT preparation on the Web,” said Brad Preheim, Principal of Armour High School. “In an attempt to improve their test scores, several of our students used INET Library’s resources as the sole means to prepare them for retaking their standardized tests. These students showed a 14% improvement over their previous scores.”

As the demands on students and teachers in schools increase due to education legislation such as the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and more stringent requirements in the job market, forward-thinking schools and parents are turning to Internet-based technologies such INET Library both to even the playing field for students who have gotten behind and to enrich the education of those who need greater challenge. Parents and schools who use technology to maximize the learning potential of their children will reap the benefit in coming years.

Jim Schiefelbein, a former University of Nebraska Director of Distance Education, agrees. “By cutting the time needed for quality research, using INET Library at home has helped my daughter maintain a straight-A average in high school. I can see her using it all the way through college, as it’s a resource that makes her life so much easier as a student.”

Del Williams is a technical writer based in Torrance, California. For more information about maximizing the Internet’s resources for educational purposes, call Inventive Communications at 888-411-4337 or visit Free trials are available upon request.#

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