|Volume 7, Issue 1 -
KIDS WEB ORGANIZES INTERNET FOR CHILDREN
Until recently, the vast amount of information available to users of the World Wide Web has contained only a small fraction that is intelligible and easily accessible to schoolchildren. The existing Web digital libraries and search engines can be frustrating and time-consuming for children to use. Now there are several kid-friendly directories available, including one under development at the Syracuse CRPC site, appropriately named "Kids Web."
Under the direction of CRPC's Paul Coddington, Kids Web evolved out of a computer multimedia class based on the World Wide Web and Mosaic, which was taught to eighth graders as part of the 1994 Young Scholars Program at Syracuse University. The goal of Kids Web is to present students with a subset of the Web that is very simple to navigate and contains information targeted at the K-12 level. Each subject section contains a list of links to information that is understandable and interesting to schoolchildren. Categories include the arts, the sciences, social studies, fun and games, reference material, sports, and links to other digital libraries.
The current focus of work on Kids Web is creating a Web forms interface that will enable teachers and students from all over the world to suggest links to relevant Web documents, and allow distributed management so that each subject listing is edited by educators who specialize in that field.
Project members are also investigating the use of Web caching technology to download Kids Web documents to a centralized server at the Northeastern Parallel Architectures Center (NPAC) at Syracuse. This technology will allow information to be accessed much more quickly by a number of New York state schools that are connected to NPAC by NYNET, a Gigabit ATM network. It will also allow schools to restrict access to the Web so that students can only access cached material, and thus avoid the problem of children accessing undesirable material on the Internet.
"It's been interesting to get email about Kids Web from kids, teachers, and parents from all over the world, from Alaska to Australia," says Coddington. "This illustrates the power of the Web, that anyone can create something that is globally accessible."
Funded by New York State, Kids Web is part of "The Syracuse University Living Schoolbook Project," which aims to apply high-performance computing and communications to K-12 education. Kids Web can be accessed at the URL http://old-npac.ucs.indiana.edu/textbook/kidsweb. Send comments, suggestions and offers to be involved with the project to firstname.lastname@example.org .
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