What is out there?
It is hard to describe all the different kinds of information to be found on the Internet – and within it on the World Wide Web – because information there takes many different forms. These include text, audio and video. They are presented in hundreds of different languages by all sorts of people and organisations in a space where no–one has overall control. This makes it difficult to navigate all the available material, to find what one wants, and then to judge its real value.
Before we look at how to find what we want let's explore a little how the World Wide Web is structured. We can do this as we look at one simple way of finding what you are looking for on the web – starting from a site that you already know is useful to you. For example, try the main Open University page which has links not just to other University sites but also to other resources, or your module website or even the main Library page.
These opening pages are known as home pages and are a bit like the introduction and contents or index pages of a book. They usually give you some information about the content of the site and there may be a link named something like ‘useful links’ which will take you to other related sites in other parts of the web. Here is an example, the home page of the BBC. Other home pages will be ‘gateways’ – mainly links to other resources like this example called the Science collection. The techniques you learned in Sections Three and Four will help you navigate around sites like these.
HINT – if while you are looking around sites like these you find one which might be useful in the future then make sure to bookmark the site – there is lots more about bookmarks in Section 6 Topic 4.