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Internet-related and delivered software

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The Virtual Classroom in progress. The teacher is teaching from her office and the students are at school. This is Education For Free's solution for rural areas in India, where educational resources are scarce, and the quality of the education offered low. (YouTube)

 

One of the most important benefits of Internet- and Web-related software is that most of it can be used regardless of the kind of hardware and software. The “platform independence” of the Internet reduces the costs involved in using the Internet in education and enhances its benefits. One key benefit of Internet use is access to a variety of Internet and Web-based software applications, much of it freely available in many languages, to be used by teachers and students in ways including:

  • Listserv or e-mail distribution software that allows groups of users to form and communicate easily by e-mail;
  • Web-based discussion forum software that allows users to engage in ongoing dialogues in which the topics or themes are linked to form discussion threads;
  • Browser and search software, enabling students to carry out research on the Internet;
  • E-mail software that allows users to send and receive communication from other learners and Websites;
  • Interactive Web-based publishing tools, allowing students and teachers to publish their thoughts, experiences, pictures, suggestions, etc., instantly on Web pages (such as Blogs and Wikis).
  • Internet- and Web-based chat and instant messaging software for live text-based discussions;
  • Easy-to-use Web page construction and publishing tools;
  • Voice and video software applications that allow teachers and students to participate in synchronous audio- and video conferencing, if sufficient bandwidth is available; and
  • File storage and retrieval software that allows users to share digital files easily, including images, data, documents, presentations, and music, with other users.

The existence of these online or Web-based software applications that enable users to communicate at a distance has given rise to opportunities for collaborative and project based learning that were not possible before the Internet, significantly enhancing learning outcomes and opportunities to develop lifelong learning skills.

Another important category of Internet-related software includes applications, many of which are freely available, that enable teachers and students to construct and publish Web pages and HTML documents on the Internet. Moreover, a variety of software applications, including JAVA, FLASH, and Shockwave, can be used to create learning applications that simulate simple and complex processes and concepts. These programming languages can be used by teachers, students, and mediated learning specialists to create simulations to aid understanding of complex concepts and demonstrate scientific activities normally have to be carried out in expensive labs.