The Internet and the Cloud Explore Curricular Activity

Time Estimate: 45 minutes

Introduction and Goals

The Internet and the World Wide Web (WWW) have had a tremendous influence on our world and our lives. Yet, most people do not really understand what the Internet is and how it works. This lesson provides a high-level overview of some key concepts and clarifies the difference between the Internet and the World Wide Web. Lessons later in the course will go into greater detail in explaining how the Internet works and explore cybersecurity.

Learning Objectives: I will learn to
  • explain how computing innovations are developed by groups of people
  • demonstrate effective interpersonal skills during collaboration
  • describe the differences between the Internet and the World Wide Web
  • explain how an effect of a computing innovation can be both beneficial and harmful
  • explain how a computing innovation can have an impact beyond its intended purpose
  • describe the risks to privacy from collecting and storing personal data on a computer system
Language Objectives: I will be able to
  • describe the relationship between the Internet and the World Wide Web using target vocabulary, supporting details and examples
  • describe key characteristics, benefits and drawbacks of computing innovations using target vocabulary, supporting details and examples
  • describe the risks to privacy from collecting and storing personal data on a computer system using target vocabulary, supporting details and example
  • use target vocabulary, such as the Internet, World Wide Web, protocol, and browser while completing the content objectives for this lesson, out loud and in writing, with the support of vocabulary notes from this lesson

Learning Activities

Throughout this course, there is a focus on 3 key questions about the Internet; they are introduced here and revisited throughout the course:

  • What is the Internet, how is it built, and how does it work?
  • What aspects of the Internet’s design and development have enabled it to grow so large and be so influential?
  • How do the Internet and Cloud applications impact our society, positively and negatively?

Video: The Internet and World Wide Web

Follow along with the video or in-class lecture by answering the questions in this guided worksheet:.


Many people do not realize that the Internet and the World Wide Web are two completely different things. The basic distinctions are:

  • The World Wide Web (WWW) is an application that runs on the Internet. The WWW is a system of interlinked resources -- documents, images, sounds, videos, data files -- that are stored on the Internet and can be accessed through a browser.
  • The Internet is the underlying global network that supports the WWW and many other applications. It consists of many different local networks that are connected together by various hardware devices.
  • The Cloud is just a popular term for the Internet and its applications used largely in marketing and advertising. Facebook, Google, Twitter, Dropbox are often referred to as cloud applications. They could also be called Internet applications. MIT App Inventor is another example of a cloud application.
  • Browsers are programs that display web pages and are used to navigate the WWW. Watch this quick, informative video on browsers.

Explore Curricular Activity: Beneficial and Harmful Effects of Computing Innovations

POGIL Activity for the Classroom (25 minutes)

This course emphasizes communication and collaboration. You will do many group activities called POGIL Activities in this course, starting with the one below. POGIL stands for Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning. In POGIL activities, you will work in self-managed teams of 3 or 4 students where everyone has a role. You will explore an activity or solve a problem together, making sure that everyone in the team participates and learns. In order for these POGIL activities to be effective, each member must be willing to practice good interpersonal skills including communication, consensus building, conflict resolution, and negotiation.

To get started, break into POGIL teams of 4 and assign each team member one of the following roles (click here for more information about these POGIL roles).

Facilitator Reads the questions aloud, keeps track of time and makes sure everyone contributes appropriately and is heard.
Spokesperson Talks to the instructor and other teams when the team has questions and reports team answers back to the class.
Quality Control Records all answers and makes sure everyone agrees on the answers.
Process Analyst Considers how the team could work and learn more effectively with respect to use of time, effectiveness, contributions. Reports back to team and class.

Do the following activities with your group. Click here to make a copy of the worksheet for this POGIL activity.

  1. What applications do you use throughout the day? In your group, make a list of 4-6 apps that you use on your phone or computer.
  2. Classify these apps as
    • Cloud Applications that happen in the browser,
    • Or Cloud Applications that do not use the browser,
    • Or Applications that do not require the Internet.
  3. Put a star * next to any of the applications that can be classified as social media (apps and websites that let you create and share content or participate in social networking).
  4. Changing Behaviors : As computing evolves, the way people complete tasks often changes to incorporate new computing innovations. Describe one task that is now done differently due to a social media app.
  5. Make a Venn Diagram (see worksheet or below) to classify the effects of the Social Media apps as harmful or beneficial to society, culture, or economy. Keep in mind, a single effect can be viewed as beneficial to some people and harmful to others.
  6. Computing innovations can be used in ways that the creator had not originally intended. For example, the World Wide Web was originally intended only for sharing information within the scientific community, but it has grown into a vital part of our social and economic lives. The large number of users that use the WWW in different ways has resulted in significant impacts beyond its original purpose. The total effects of a social media app cannot always anticipated in advance. Discuss how some social media apps have had complex effects that were not anticipated. Describe one example of an effect of a social media app that was not originally anticipated.
  7. If you were a developer of one of the social media apps that you listed, how would you reduce its harmful effects? Responsible programmers try to consider the unintended ways their computing innovations can be used and the potential beneficial and harmful effects of these new uses, although it is not possible for a programmer to consider all the ways a computing innovation can be used. Rapid sharing of a program or running a program with a large number of users can result in significant impacts beyond the intended purpose or control of the programmer. Some of these impacts may be beneficial, for example leading to advances in other fields. Some of these impacts may be harmful, for example information placed online or on social media apps can be shared with unintended audiences, affecting our privacy -- an email message may be forwarded, tweets can be retweeted, and social media posts can be viewed by potential employers.


In this lesson, you learned how to:

Still Curious?

There is a wealth of good introductory information about the Internet and the WWW.



Here is a table of the technical terms we've introduced in this lesson. Hover over the terms to review the definitions.

World Wide Web (WWW)
Tim Berners-Lee
WWW as a higher level of abstraction
Open standard

Check Your Understanding

Complete the following self-check exercises.

Reflection: For Your Portfolio

Answer the following portfolio reflection questions as directed by your instructor. Questions are also available in this Google Doc where you may use File/Make a Copy to make your own editable copy.

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