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60th IFLA General Conference - Conference Proceedings - August 21-27, 1994

Surfing to the Global Classroom:
an Exploration of Educational Enrichment on the INTERNET

Mary Cox
Florida State University,
Tallahassee, Florida, USA



Global contact on the internet is an experience that is not only valuable, but crucial to the growing generation. The opportunities which it offers include enriching traditional curricula, access to new information, and a unique opportunity to develop world-wide contacts. One of the most interesting things about telecommunications is that it removes old barriers of sexism, ageism, and racism and preconceived notions based on visual prejudices. Building world-wide, personal contacts will be critical in a world where technological advances will toss this generation, ready or not, into a global community. It is incumbent upon school library media specialists and information professionals involved in education to assist in this process by becoming familiar with the resources available on the internet (Hart, 1994; Eisenberg, and Ely, 1993; Rosenbaum, 1993).

Subscribing on the Internet

There are three main methods of transferring information on the internet: electronic mail(e-mail), telnet, and file transfer protocol (ftp). For this paper, sources were chosen that may be accessed by electronic mail. Electronic mail is the lowest common denominator of internet communication which allows a novice to initiate successful contact. In order to subscribe to an e-mail discussion group or listserv, it is necessary to dispatch an e-mail subscribe message to the appropriate listserv computer requesting that your name be added to the distribution list and that mail be forwarded to your internet connected computer. E-mail was employed to subscribe to several e-mail lists that focus on education. When you send to a mailing list, you use a single e-mail address which then distributes your message to all subscribers of the mailing list. There are vast numbers of electronic mailing lists and projects available on the internet (Eisenberg and Ely, p. 19; Newby, 1994, p.1).

While monitoring e-mail lists, two e-mail projects were discovered and, because of their scope and organization, chosen for detailed description. Mathmagic and Field Trips Calendar serve as examples of the projects available after initial contact is made through electronic mailing lists.

Subscriptions were maintained to School Library Media & Network Communications (LM_NET), KIDSPHERE, Worldgate Electronic Arts Society(weas), and Global Schools Education Net (GS_NET). The criteria used to determine whether or not these electronic mailing lists or the projects described on them would be helpful were: do they offer educational or recreational enhancement for school a ged children in math, science, foreign language and culture or geography?; do they appear to have the potential to promote global camaraderie among the next generation?; and do they appear to have potential to spark interest in teachers and school library media specialists who are not yet networking?

School Library Media & Network Communications(LM_NET)

LM_NET is a worldwide discussion group of 1,500+ members that discuss School Library Media topics. This popular list offers discussions on a diverse array of educational and library related topics such as ways to establish on-line internet connections for school aged children in library media centers, and how to interest teachers, parents and administrators, and the sharing of new and old inter net contacts to set up educational projects via internet (Abbot, 1994, p. 136; Scott, 1993, p. 148). This list is co-owned and monitored by Peter Milbury and Mike Eisenberg and has been in existence since 1992. One of the reasons this list seems to be a stable source of diverse information is that whenever there is a problem it is immediately addressed and dealt with by the co-owners. They have p ut together a hospitality committee for new subscribers, easily accessed instructions for accessing their archives, directions for net etiquette, a skills index, and a mentor list to smooth the everyday operation of this list. This was the first electronic list subscribed to for this project, and it has been the source of all the other lists and projects that are discussed here. Although many att empts were made to access additional groups from other sources, they were almost invariably no longer current. LM_NET was current in its offerings of contacts to other educational listserv groups. It is highly recommended as an initial point to make contact via e-mail with the internet.

Examples of some of the discussions that deal with global education were: a daily bulletin from Alaska on the progress of the 1994 Ititarod Trail sled dog race, French Tasmanian students seeking e-mail correspondents, middle school science classes seeking contacts with classes located in differing ecosystems to exchange ideas, Australian high school students wishing to exchange geography lessons with Canadian students,and requests in every subject area. There are daily listings of other e-mail groups forwarded to LM_NET and clear information on how to contact these groups.

To subscribe to LM_NET, send an e-mail message to Peter Milbury or Mike Eisenberg . (The "<" and ">" symbols are used on the Internet to set off commands to be entered on the computer. The "<" and ">" symbols should not be entered.) These symbols should not be included in your input. Include your full userid/address, first name, and last name. You will then be contacted by e-mail and instructed on how to complete your subscription.(Sherron, 1994, p. 23).


Kidsphere is a list that globally links school children and educators. Its mission is to provide focus for technological development and to resolve the problems that arise in international communications. There are presently 2,063+ addresses on the mailing list. Active readership is speculated to run as high as 20,000. KIDSPHERE was originally named KIDSNET and has been in existence since 1989.

Kidsphere provides a wealth of contacts for school children and their educators in the global classroom. Examples include: requests for e-mail messages in West Africa, Germany, Australia, South America, Italy, China and Middle Europe, an invitation from the Netherlands to send an e-mail welcome to an educational center in Moscow, math classes seeking partners for projects, information on how to t ie in with the Clementine moon probe, cash awards in a poetry contest, and daily opportunities for international contact in math, science, geography and foreign language skills for school children at all grade levels. This popular e-mail list is also an excellent source of e-mail connections to other lists and projects ably administered by Bob Carlitz. To subscribe to KIDSPHERE, send a subscripti on request to: or .

Worldgate Electronic Arts Society (weas)

Weas was founded to enhance education and community service through information technology. Weas is not a discussion forum, but rather a bulletin board for posting projects. The Worldgate charter allows for the formation of an indefinite number of local chapters which may be located anywhere in the world. Each local chapter is chartered in association with a school cluster composed of a high sc hool and associated lower grade level feeder schools. Weas has 125+ subscribers and is growing in numbers. All grade levels are invited to participate in international educational projects.

Examples of exchanges on this list include: a London school requesting fax exchanges with U.S. schools, an invitation to share data on the eclipse of the sun, second graders from the island of Kauai seeking global contacts to study communities, ninth grade math students seeking partners for projects, and invitations to join e-mail lists that monitor the International Arctic project. To subscribe to WEAS, send an e-mail message to . The subject heading should be: .

Global Schools Educational Net(GS_NET)

GS_NET is an electronic mail list that originates from the American School of Recife-Brazil. The contact person for this list is Clovis Lacenda. GS_NET is a list designed for communication between teachers for setting up different projects between classes in the international community.

GS_PENPAL is a related list sharing the same subscription address. It is a list where the students communicate with each other via e-mail. This is a new list that appears to be in the initial stage of formation. Many of the contacts are requests for information on rain forests. There appears to be potential for this list to build into a forum for linking school children and their educators to a S outh American location. To subscribe to GS_NET, send an e-mail message to with the message: .

Field Trips Calendar

Field Trips Calendar is a project to provide vicarious field trips for school aged children. The field trips from January through May, 1994 included Washington D.C., Montreal, Quebec City, Big Pine Key, Florida, Science Museums, Boston, and the Waipahu Cultural Gardens. To acquire information for current field trips, send an e-mail message to . To publish a field trip, g et instructions from: .


Mathmagic is a telecommunications project to foster computer technology, problem solving, and communication skills. Mathmagic posts challenges into each of four grade level categories (K-3,4-6,7-9,and 10 12). Registered teams pair up with another team and engage in problem solving dialog. When a solution is reached, one solution is posted for every pair. Mathmagic has been running for two years on Fidonet, but became available as an internet electronic mail group at the beginning of 1994. There are 300+ subscribers that read the postings and exchanges, but do not actively participate. There are currently 82 international teams composed of 2-5 students. The exchanges are conducted in English. An example of content is the first posting for the 10-12 grade level list:

"Barbershop quartet The red stripe on a barber pole makes two complete revolutions around the pole. The pole is 100 cm high, and 16 cm in diameter 1) What angle does the stripe make with the horizontal? 2) How long is the stripe?" Each registered team is expected to work with a net team partner who may be local or international. They discuss solution strategies and agree on the solution they eventually post. It is hoped the exchanges between teams will help promote camaraderie as well as critical thinking skills. All subscriptions begin with a free subscription to an open list. Alan A. Hodson is in charge of the internet access of Mathmagic. To subscribe to Mathmagic, send an e-mail message to with the message: , where X-Y is either K-3,4-6,7-9,10-12, or general.


In summary, LM_NET is recommended as an initial entry point on the electronic mail system. It serves well as a source of introduction to other lists and projects. LM_NET, KIDSPHERE, and Worldgate Electronic Arts Society offer discussion, details of specific projects, and information leading to other discussion groups and projects. GS_NET is a list in early formation offering discussion and ini tial contact for e-mail correspondents. Field Trips Calendar and Mathmagic are both educational projects using electronic mail to foster international cooperation.

Although employing the internet to enhance education and global camaraderie is in its formative stage, the material on this subject is already substantial. "Information Anxiety" (Wurman, 1989, pp. 32-45) may be kept under control by the novice on the internet by seeking an easily accessible entry point to electronic mail lists and building technical expertise over a period of time. Educators and librarians who are able to access the internet with enthusiasm for its educational opportunities without becoming overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of information are in a position to participate in the global classroom of the future.


  1. ABBOT, Tony(ed), 1994, Internet World's On Internet 94, (Westport, London: Mecklermedia)
  2. EISENBERG, Michael B. and Ely, Donald P., Summer 1993, "Plugging Into the Net", Indiana Media Journal, 15:4
  3. HART, Thomas L., 1994, "The Information Age Knowledge Navigators" Florida State University. Typescript.
  4. KROL, Ed, 1992, The Whole Internet, (Sebastopol,CA: O'Reilly & Associates, Inc).
  5. LEVINE, John R. & Baroudi, 1993, Carol, Internet For Dummies, (San Mateo, CA:IDG Books Worldwide, Inc).
  6. NEWBY, Gregory B., 1994, Directory of Directories on the Internet(Westport: Meckler).
  7. POLLY, Jean Armour, June 1992, "Surfing the Internet" Wilson Library Bulletin.
  8. ROSENBAUM, Howard, Summer 1993, "Educators and the Internet: What's Out There and How To Get Some Of It", Indiana Media Journal 15:4 p.2
  9. SCOTT, Ralph Lee, Fall 1993, "Wired to the World", North Carolina Libaries. p. 148.
  10. SHERRON, Gene T., 1994, A Networking Guide for the School of Library and Information Studies, (Tallahassee, Florida: Florida State University)
  11. WURMAN, Richard S.,1989, Information Anxiety: What To Do When Information Doesn't Tell You What You Need To Know (New York: Bantam) pp.32-45