This lesson sets the stage for why we want to learn about how the Internet works. First, students share what they currently know about how the Internet works through a KWL activity. Then, students watch a short video that introduces Vint Cerf and the Internet at a high level. Students skim a memo written to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) by Vint Cerf in 2002 entitled “The Internet is for Everyone”, which calls out a series of threats to the prospect that the Internet should be an open, easily and cheaply accessible resource for everyone on the planet. Finally, we foreshadow the practice of PT at the end of the unit. Many of the questions and challenges raised by Vint Cerf still apply today, and students will be asked to research and present on one for the Practice PT.
The purpose of this lesson is to set up and motivate students to be receptive to learning about some of the technical aspects of how the Internet functions. We want the message to be clear that a huge part of being able to solve these problems, or even to function as an informed citizen, is to be educated about how the Internet actually works as a system that is built, engineered, and maintained by people.
It is both interesting and important to know that the protocols or rules by which Internet traffic is governed are not owned or controlled by any government or business (at the moment). It’s a group of well-meaning citizen-engineers dedicated to keeping the Internet free, open and robust for all.
The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is the group of mostly volunteer citizens that proposes and develops all of the standards and protocols that exist on the Internet. Request for Comments (RFC) documents, like the one we use in the lesson, is how these standards and protocols are defined and published for all to see on the IETF website. They are some of the best-written technical documents in existence.
And with a little background in how bits work, what’s necessary for protocols to work when bits are transferred over wires, they are relatively accessible reading. Here’s the full set: https://www.ietf.org/rfc.html. RFC 000 (the first one) is related to what we ask students to do in the next several lessons.
Students will be able to:
- connect a personal experience to one challenge related to the idea that "The Internet is for Everyone".
- cite one example of how computing has a global effect -- both beneficial and harmful -- on people and society.
- explain that the Internet is a distributed global system that works on shared and open protocols.
Note: You will need to create a free account on code.org before you can view this resource.