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Modes of connection

By connecting to the Internet, computers can be transformed into powerful communication tools which have a greatly expanded range of educational applications. When deciding whether and how to access the Internet, the following options need to be considered:

Simulated Internet
If the institution cannot connect to the Internet, students and teachers can still gain simulated access to a selection of Internet resources by copying valuable Websites to CD-ROMs, as in the project at St.John’s School, Bangkok. The CDs are then used to access the sites, thus simulating the Internet. The “Internet” CDs have the following benefits:

  • Easy for teachers to prepare, as they can preview the resources quickly before the class
  • Can focus student inquiry because students can explore the resources, yet cannot surf freely beyond the scope of the activity or become distracted by other sites
  • No time is lost in waiting for Websites to load

Dial-up Connection
The simplest and usually the lowest-cost connection to the Internet (at least in terms of setup costs; usage costs often turn out to be much higher) is through dial-up access using a single standard phone line. A dial-up connection can provide Internet access to a single computer or networked computers can share this single connection, though shared access can become very slow. If two or three phone lines are available, these lines can be combined using an analog router to enable multiple phone line access to an ISP, so increasing available bandwidth.

Dedicated Connection and Other Connectivity Options
Schools can get faster and more reliable Internet access by using permanent “dedicated” high-speed connections where they are available and affordable. A variety of dedicated high-bandwidth options may be available to schools, including integrated services digital network (ISDN), digital subscriber lines (DSL), terrestrial wireless, digital cable, radio modem, and satellite access, as described below.