Media praise for Net Lessons: Web-Based Projects for Your Classroom

"The question is no longer whether Web-based pedagogy will have an impact on education. The question is how much, how fast, and how far. NET LESSONS will benefit especially those teachers who are not yet comfortable with the Web, and who remain unsure of how to integrate Web and Internet exercises into their classes or curriculum. Although written primarily for primary and secondary (K-12) instructors, Roerden identifies some basic strategies for a Web-integrated curriculum that can be upgraded fairly easily for post-secondary classes.

"Roerden begins with the most basic question: Why should any instructor bother learning about the Web? Then, like a patient teacher, she explains the rationale and identifies the resources available for students and teachers.

"Chapter 2, 'Designing your Curriculum,' provides a dozen activities that can be developed by instructors at any level. In addition to the obvious tasks of using the Web as a resource and for communication, she lists a few narrower uses, including mentoring, social interaction, simulation, surveys, and Web publishing. The remainder of the book describes how the dozen activities can be integrated into substantive courses, such as math, social studies, language, science, and art. Each chapter contains a well-defined series of exercises for various grade levels, but the excericises can be modified to fit college courses as well.

"Although the sample activities in the chapters were submitted by the individual instructors who created them, they possess remarkable consistency in quality, format, and substance. Each exercise specifies a project's timeline, objectives, prerequisites, and procedures. Some excericises are designed for individual students and others for students working in groups. All can be modified as needed for content, work load, and grade level. Three appendixes include a Net lesson index, sample worksheets, and a list of useful URLs pointing to curriculum resources and teaching strategies.

"Although minor quibbles, there are few details that the author might correct in future editions. First, Roerden uses the term 'Internet' and 'Web' interchangeably. This inaccuracy is especially ironic in a volume attempting to introduce youth to Cyberspace. This faux pas should be corrected. Second, the net is not as race/sex/culture blind as the author claims. Differences in backgrounds and biographies shape facility and comfort with Net interaction. Given the diversity of abilities and personalities, a volume such as this would benefit from including a chapter or two on breaking down differences amongst students. Third, the volume should include a chapter or two on CGI scripts that enhance the exercises. Fourth, the omission of synchronous interactive exercises using discussion groups and software such as Engaged to communicate with others was disappointing. Fifth, given the emerging PC-based audio-visual technology, a future edition should address the potential of Web-based synchronous and asynchronous A/V classroom activities.

"A final criticism focuses on O'Reilly's odd tendency to include supplemental CDROM disks in their works. This volume might seem an exception were it not that the disk O'Reilly provides is AOL 3.0. When the book jacket indicates CD-ROM included, I felt as though I were the victim of a practical joke when I found the same disk that AOL has sent me at least a half-dozen times in the past year. The blatant hucksterism of this misleading promo detracts from the credibility not only of the book, but also from O'Reilly. One expect a bit more from them."

--Computer underground Digest, Oct. 19, 1997, Volume 9 : Issue 75 ISSN 1004-042X