Unit 3 Using Browsers, Indexes, Directories, and Search Engines

Directions: Read the following passage. Click on hypertext vocabulary if you want a definition. Then click BACK to return to the passage.

The Internet is made up of many smaller networks. For the University Homepage and Library units of this course, we use our local computer network at Iowa State University. This local network is part of the World Wide Web, which is part of the Internet.

When we want to access the World Wide Web on the Internet, we use a Web browser. A Web browser allows your computer to read information on the World Wide Web. The two Web browsers that are the most popular are Microsoft Explorer and Foxfire. Macintosh uses Safari. An older browser is Netscape. When you first get on the Internet each time you use it, you choose which browser you want to use. The Web browser software we will use is Foxfire. Foxfire communicates with other web server software on the internet to exchange information. This information is called a web page. The starting page at a site is called the home page.

Every web page on the Web has an address called a URL,Uniform Resource Locator. You can navigate around the Web by typing the URL into the "location" or "netsite" box, a rectangular box at the very top of your Home page and many other web pages. When you look at the box on your Homepage, it contains the Homepage URL. You can change it. Put the cursor on the right end of the part of the URL you want to erase, click, and push the delete key on your keyboard until it is erased. Then you can type in a new URL, press RETURN, and go to another web page.

Parts of URL's

URL's have several basic parts. Here is an example URL:



http = hypertext protocol, the programming language used to write web pages.
:// = separators to separate the name of the language from the rest of the address
www = the World Wide Web
. = separators to separate the parts of the address
yahoo = name of the server
com = domain ("com" stands for "commercial," "edu" stands for "educational institution," "gov stands for "government.")

Using A Browser


The browser you use will do two major jobs

1. take you to web sites when you type the URL into the location box and

2. take you to web sites when you click on hypertext words or pictures.

The browser also handles other jobs for you when you use the toolbar.

The Tool Bar

The Foxfire toolbar contains several useful buttons. The HOME button returns you to your homepage. The BACK button moves you to the last web page you saw. The GO menu will give you a list of all your recently viewed pages, so you can select from them instead of having to use the BACK button. The FORWARD and BACK buttons move you between recently viewed pages. The FILE menu gives you several different options. The STOP (X) button stops the transfer of information from a web site to you in case you decide you don't want to see it.



Finding Web Pages through your Browser with the URLs

1. Print out this exercise, or your teacher will give you a copy.

2. Press HOME to return to your university Home Page. You are now in the browser.

3. Type the following address with no spaces in the location box and then press RETURN:


What did you find?

You have reached a new website by typing its URL in the location box of your browser. If you know the URL of the website you want, you can always type it into the location box and press return.

Finding Web Pages through your Browser with Hyperlinks

You can also move around the Web with hyperlinks. Remember the colored words called hypertext? You clicked on the hypertext to move from the ISU Home Page to other web pages at ISU. You clicked on hypertext to move to the glossary. These hypertext words and pictures are called hyperlinks. Hyperlinks can be words, symbols, or pictures. When you put the mouse pointer on a hyperlink, it changes into a pointing hand. Try it now.

1. Press HOME again. Find the location box again and type in the following address with no spaces. Press RETURN:


2. What is this web site?

3. Move around on the Nando Times web site using the hyperlinks (click on the pictures and hypertext).

a. Click on the word "Global" and scroll down the screen. What did you find?

b. Click BACK, and then click on one of the pictures. What did you find?

c. Click BACK, and then choose some more hyperlinks to look at. What did you find?

d. Finally, choose the GO button at the top of the screen and hold it down to see what you have recently viewed. Choose one, and then practice using the FORWARD or BACK buttons to return to your place.



Using Search Engines to Find Information

on The World Wide Web

Browsers like Firefox allow you to look around at specific web pages by using the URLs and hyperlinks. Browsers can also take you to Search Engines. Search Engines will help you when you are searching for information about a general topic, but you don't know the URL. The Firefox browser can take you to several indexes such as Yahoo!, Hot Bot, Lycos, Google, and Excite.

Search Engine are programs that use key words to do your research for you while you wait. Yahoo! and the other indexes also function as search engines. On every web page of a search engine there is a "Search" box where you can type your key words. The key words determine the information that the search engine finds. It is important to choose very specific key words.

Practice Doing Research Using Yahoo! and Google as Search Engines.

Imagine that you have to write a paper on Zoos and Wildlife conservation.

1. Pull down GO and choose Yahoo! Type the key word zoo in the search box. Then click Search.

2. What is the search result? How many site matches did Yahoo! find?

3. Practice doing the search using the Hotbot and Lycos Search Engines. Are their results different? Write the results below.






We are getting too many results by using the word "zoo." It will be impossible to go through all the results to find the ones that will be useful. Let's try another strategy.

Adding Key Words to the Search

1. Go back to Yahoo!. Now type zoo and wildlife conservation in the search box. What are your results?

This is much better.

2. Scroll down and look at the results. Are these sites more what you are looking for?

3. Look at the highlighted words in the results. What words is the search engine matching? Is it matching all of the words together as a phrase or is it matching the words separately?

4.Do the same with Google, Hotbot, and Lycos. How do the results differ from your search with the word zoo alone? 




5. What words are the search engines matching? Are they matching all of the words together as a phrase or are they matching the words separately?


6. Now go to the same search on Google. Many students find Google very useful for research. Scroll down. How many web pages did Google find?


7. Scroll down the list that the Google search engine found and look at the list of web sites as you go. Is the search finding information only about zoos and wildlife conservation? What other kinds of information is there?

8. Now go back and do a search for the Bronx zoo.

9. Click Welcome to the Bronx Zoo . The "New York Zoos and Aquarium " web page will appear.

10. Answer the following questions about the Bronx Zoo.

a. How many animals do they have?

b. What is new at the zoo?

c. What events do they have at the zoo?

11. Click on some of the Education programs. What is available? Who is eligible to join the programs?



12. In the Education section, click on the "In the Wild" programs. What kinds of projects does the zoo have and where are they? (Look under Section Topics, too)

13. In the section Topics, Click on some of the Science and Exploration programs. What is the zoo doing in these fields?

14. Do you think this would be a useful web site to get information for a research paper on the role played by zoos in wildlife conservation? Why?

15. Go BACK to the Google search page and do a search for the Denver Zoo. Look at this website, too. Would this be a useful website to get information for a research paper on the role played by zoos in wildlife conservation? Why?

16. Go BACK to the search page and do a search for Blank Park Zoo. Would this site be a useful website to get information for a research paper on the role played by zoos in wildlife conservation? Why?

Results of Your Research with Search Engines

It's important to realize that each index subject-tree directory and search engine may contain completely different information. Of course several indexes may contain the same information, too. If you don't find what you want in one index, try another. When you get results, you will have to go through them to eliminate irrelevant topics and advertising because in this kind of search, the computer looks for matches to each word separately. In our search, the computer was looking for the key words zoo, wildlife, conservation separately, not together. So you may get information about veterinarians and books about parks as well as information on zoos with the key words above. Sometimes you may need to change or modify your key words, but adding key words helps limit your search. We will learn more about key word strategies in the next units of this course.


Test Yourself

Test yourself on what you've just learned. Click for Practice Internet Test 2


What are the major differences between a browser, and a search engine? How can they be useful to you?

Write in the space provided on the next page. Then send me your ideas.

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Helen H. Schmidt
Instructor, Intensive English and Orientation Program
Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011, U.S.A.

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