Using the Internet

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The internet is the interconnection of computer networks or billions of computers and devices all connected by wires or wireless signals. The World Wide Web, or just web, is the mass of HTML (the programming language of web-pages) pages and images that travel through the internet’s hardware. The web is contained within the internet. Although the web and internet are technically two different things, the terms are used interchangeably by most people. In order to get you web-fluent and navigating your online course like a pro, there are a few terms you will first need to understand. You probably have heard most or all of these before and have a certain degree of familiarity with them. After this lesson, you will have a clear understanding of what they mean and how they work together.



A browser is a software package or mobile app that lets you view web pages, graphics, and online content by converting HTML and XML code into readable and viewable content. A browser software package should have been included on your computer and mobile device at the time of purchase, and additional browsers can be downloaded from the internet. Some of the most popular include Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, and Safari (for Apple). Wichita State students accessing Blackboard should not use Internet Explorer since IE is not supported by Blackboard.


Uniform Resource Locators are the addresses of internet pages and files. URL’s follow a standard rules for naming, which consists of three parts: the protocol, the host, and the file name. The protocol is the portion ending in //: Most web pages use the protocol http or https, but there are other protocols. The host or domain, generally ends in .com, .net, .edu or .org, but can end in many other less-common domains. The file name is the page name itself. For example, lets look at Wichita State University’s URL. The address is The protocol is https://, the file name is wichita, and the host is .edu.

IP Address

Every computer and device that connects to the internet has an IP address which is usually automatically assigned and used for tracking. Whenever you browse, send an email or instant message, or download a file, your IP address serves as the equivalent of an automobile license plate for accountability.


Hypertext Transfer Protocol is the data communication standard of web pages. When a web page has this prefix, the links, text, and pictures should work properly in your web browser. Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure indicates that the webpage has a special layer of encryption added to hide your personal information and passwords from others. Whenever you log in to your online bank account or a shopping site that you enter credit card information into, look for “https” in the URL for security.


A webpage is what you see in your browser when you are on the internet. You may see text, photos, images, diagrams, links, advertisements and more on any page you view. You can click or tap on a specific area of a webpage to expand the information or move to a related web page. Clicking on a link takes you to a different webpage. If you want to go back, you use the arrows provided for that purpose in just about every browser. Several web pages together on a related subject make a website.


Hypertext Markup Language is the programming language of webpages. HTML commands your web browser to display text and graphics in a specific fashion. XML is eXtensible Markup Language, a cousin to HTML. XML focuses on cataloging and databasing the text content of a web page. XHTML is a combination of HTML and XML.


To download is to transfer something you find on the internet or World Wide Web to your computer or other device. Software, music, movies, ringtones, documents, and images are some common examples of files that can be downloaded. The size of the file and your internet speed dictates how long the download will take. The larger the file and slower the internet speed, the longer it will take. Webpages that offer material that can be downloaded are usually clearly marked with a Download button or link.


Uploading is the opposite of downloading. When you upload a file, you are sending it from your computer to another computer, network, website, or mobile device. As a student in an online course, you will most likely need to upload assignments to your course through the LMS. For Wichita State Students, uploading an assignment in Blackboard is covered in the Blackboard at Wichita State University lesson.


Malware is the broad term to describe any malicious software designed by hackers. Malware includes viruses, trojans, keyloggers, zombie programs and any other software that seeks to either vandalize your computer, steal your information, take remote control of your computer, or manipulate you into purchasing something.


A Trojan, named after the Greek myth of the Trojan horse, is a hacker program that looks like a legitimate file or software program. It can look as innocent as a music file or even anti-malware software. Once the user downloads the Trojan, it attacks. Protect yourself by not downloading files that are sent to you in emails or that you see on unfamiliar websites.


Phishing is the use of convincing-looking emails and web pages to lure you into typing your account numbers and passwords/PINs. Often in the form of fake PayPal warning messages or fake bank login screens, phishing attacks can be convincing to anyone who is not trained to watch for the subtle clues. As a rule, you should distrust any email link that says “you should log in and confirm this.”


Firewall is a generic term to describe a barrier against destruction. It consists of software or hardware that protects your computer from hackers and viruses. Firewalls range from small antivirus software packages to complex and expensive software and hardware solutions. ​Some firewalls are free. Many computers come equipped with a firewall you can activate. Everyone should activate a firewall for personal use to protect your computer from viruses and malware.


For video tutorials from the State of Kansas Computer Skills Center, please click on the following titles:

Introduction to the Internet

Internet Safety

Web Surfing Basics