Whereas they once purchased servers that they installed and maintained servers in the schools where they worked, IT managers now purchase computing capacity and storage space on servers owned and operated by others. In this way, computing is similar to electricity generation. Just as we buy electricity that is produced at central locations, we purchase and use computing capacity on servers in a central location. We use the web to access those resources and our web browsers allow us to use those resources and create and manage the information needed for teaching and learning.
The Internet is a collection of computer networks that extends across the globe and even into space as packets of information are transmitted across continents and oceans via satellites. Originally, users of the Internet selected from several protocols or methods of transferring information (for example file transfer protocol or simple mail transfer protocol) or using a computer remotely (for example telnet). The World Wide Web is built upon hypertext transfer protocol, which was added to the collection of Internet protocols early in the 1990’s; compared to the other protocols http is a late addition.
In the decades since its inception, the World Wide Web has matured in several ways, and improvements have resulted from both advances in hardware and software of all the computer systems from client through transmission to server and back to client. The computers feature more RAM, more and faster processors, and network adapters with greater bandwidth ratings. The software on the servers that host files and the web browsers on the clients used Efficacious Educational Technology 114 to access files have also become more efficient and capable of displaying more dynamic and more sophisticated data as well. In addition, the capacity of the circuits over which information packets are transmitted has increased; fiber optic cables are becoming increasingly common and these provide vastly more bandwidth than the plain old telephone circuits used to move data in earlier decades.
The capacity to move vast amounts of information across the globe means efficacious IT managers can use the web to perform many data storage and processing functions that once required local systems. It also means that educators can use web-based tools for many teaching and learning activities that once required local systems. In this chapter I explain the web services that are improving teaching and learning.