Johns Hopkins Gazette: January 30, 1995

Hopkins in Cyberspace

By Mike Field

     The popularity of the Internet and the complexity of its
operation were much in evidence at Welch Library's first Internet
Fair, held Jan. 24 to 26 on the East Baltimore campus. Hundreds
of students, faculty and staff filled the Tilghman Room of the
Turner Building--sometimes to overflowing--to hear a series of
free hourlong lectures devoted to the Internet, Gopher, World
Wide Web and other computer network resources.
     They came to listen, to learn and, often, to ask questions
about especially troublesome Internet problems that had vexed
them in the past. From novice to advanced user, everyone it
seems, has questions about surfing the Net.
     "The purpose behind the fair is to do some Internet training
on a large scale," said Karla Hahn, network-based services
manager at the Welch Medical Library. "We can't train everyone
hands-on as quickly as we would like, so we thought this would
provide an opportunity for many people to learn." The Tuesday and
Wednesday sessions featured an introduction to the Internet 
followed by lectures and demonstrations on more specialized
subjects offering information for a variety of skill levels.
Thursday's workshops were designed for network administrators and
other advanced Internet users.
     "Things change so quickly on the Internet that no matter how
much practical experience you have it's good to check up on the
latest developments," Hahn said. "There's always something new."
     Across campus, at the educational computing laboratory in
the Hunterian Building, a series of intensive, hands-on classes
offered preregistered students instruction in topics ranging from
e-mail to modems. At noon each day the lab held an open house,
allowing new and experienced computer users to drop in and take
one of the lab's 15 computers on a quick test drive down the
Internet. Staff were on hand with instructional materials to
distribute and answers to most computing questions.
     "When talking about the Internet, it's hard to sort out the
helpful from the hype," Hahn said. "For most users, the biggest
confusion is figuring out what the Net can do for them." Fair
organizers aimed to include as much useful information as
possible by demonstrating real-time use of the Internet during
the course of the lectures. A special phone line was run to the
podium of the Tilghman Room where a portable Apple computer, its
screen projected overhead for the audience to follow along,
enabled lecturers to connect directly with the Internet for
various demonstrations.
     Of course, live computing, like live TV, is not without its
drawbacks. When Frank Klatil, the coordinator of computer
training at the Welch Library, tried making an Internet
connection via the computer's modem for his class on Gopher, he
was unceremoniously dumped. "In the old days before computer
networking if you had a problem with output you never re-entered
the same data, because you were dealing with a machine and you
knew it would come back exactly the same," Klatil said, as he
repeated the exact same steps that had proved unsuccessful
earlier. "Now if you have problems, you should always try again
because with the Internet, things change constantly." Sure
enough, this time his efforts to connect were successful.
     Afternoon sessions focused on locating and accessing
specific kinds of information available to health care
professionals. Classes devoted to basic science, public health,
nursing, patient care, scientific writing, nursing and medical
education explored resources available on the Internet and
reviewed search and retrieval procedures.
     To aid new and experienced Internet users in their search
for useful information, the Welch Library has prepared a series
of more than a dozen instruction sets covering everything from
setting up a Welchlink computer account to the intricacies of
Listserv, Telnet, File Transfer Protocol and modeming. Clearly
written, well-labeled and easy to use, these sheets make a handy
reference source book to keep on file. Copies of the instruction
sheets may be obtained at the library, via Internet on WelchWeb
or Welch's gopher, or by calling 955-3410.

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