Using the Internet in Vocational Education. ERIC Digest. 

by Wagner, Judith O.

"It is an exciting time in education. The Internet offers new opportunities for students and teachers a link to learn in interesting ways" (Ellsworth 1994, p. xxiii). 

"Telecommunications truly is one of the most exciting educational tools I have encountered in my teaching career" (Watson 1994, p. 41). "

The Internet's usefulness is limited only by our level of commitment. We first have to get plugged in before we can get turned on. Then we can help our profession by using our imagination to create a vocational educator's Dream Net in the years to come" (Seguin and Seguin 1995, p. 33).

The Internet is a vast computer-based network of networks that includes listservs and newsgroups--discussion forums on specific topics--as well as electronic mail and electronic journals. It is used in education, business, and leisure, and students must be able to navigate it to become prepared citizens. This ERIC Digest does not pretend to be an exhaustive list of vocational education resources on the Internet--the list changes daily. It offers suggestions for using the Internet in the vocational classroom and lists newsgroups, World Wide Web (WWW) sites, listservs, and electronic journals of interest to vocational educators. It also serves as a supplement to an ERIC Key, LOCATING ERIC CLEARINGHOUSE ON ADULT, CAREER, AND VOCATIONAL


Much of the material for this Digest was received as a result of a message sent to the VOCNET listserv asking how vocational educators were using the Internet in their classrooms. Responses varied widely. Many of the respondents indicated that they were just getting started with the Internet and using it primarily for sending messages. Some students have joined listservs and newsgroups; others have surfed the 'Net for information and materials from all over the world.


The director and associate professor of vocational-technical education at Dakota State University uses the Internet primarily for e-mail. He requires students to send queries to AskERIC; in his "Technology in Voc Ed" course, graduate students have to use the WWW and sign up for a listserv. He is considering offering a course for vocational education personnel entirely through the Internet (A. Seguin, Internet message, June 20, 1995).

Cognitive Training Associates, Inc. develops and uses networks for large corporations. They use the Internet to distribute technology-based training applications--core skill acquisition and reinforcement, knowledge transfer and sharing, and use of job-specific smart applications that perform lower-level tasks and provide on-demand expertise (M. Brown, Internet message, June 20, 1995).

A secondary vocational teacher in Charlotte, North Carolina, is planning to use the Internet in her international trade and marketing class. The students have participated in real-time conferences with schools in Finland, Israel, and many places in the United States, studying such topics as farm subsidies, economic development, the European Union, and trade issues. Through a Junior Achievement project, Globe, her class will be exporting and importing products from a class in another country (C. Rainwater, Internet message, June 20, 1995).

The Technical Integration Project coordinator at a Maryland high school assigned seniors to write a research paper related to their trade area. Working with a local community college, she and her students used their resources, library, and online workstations. The resource center personnel provided instruction in research and use of the Maryland Internet connection. Students downloaded materials, joined listservs, and communicated with others on the Internet to get the information they needed. The WWW is their next step (R. A. Fitzgerald, Internet message, June 19, 1995).

Students in the University of Florida counseling program use e-mail, surf the WWW for information, and have group e-mail sessions. The "ticket" to their final exam was to find Universal Resource Locators (URLs) that were career related as well as some that were just for fun. Plans for next year include matching beginning students with experienced counselors who are using a developmental approach via e-mail (R. Myrick, Internet message, June 25, 1995).

Students at a high school in Calgary, Alberta, exchange mail with people all over the world, subscribe to listservs and newsgroups, and use Internet Relay Chat (IRC) to converse with others in real time over the Internet. They make friends and learn about other cultures, lifestyles, and philosophies. Students have located software for a Japanese language course, searched for resources to use in assignments, and introduced a new discussion group (Hanson 1994).

The Texas Education Agency Quality Workforce Planning program runs a statewide newsgroup for Texas teachers. They use the state's gopher/Web site for statewide priority occupations and regional targeted occupations lists which are heavily used at the State Employment (Security) Commission's Telnet bulletin board system. They distribute materials via e-mail to tech prep and Quality Work Force Planning locations (D. Kinnaman, Internet message, June 26, 1995).

An agricultural education teacher suggests that technology must follow and facilitate the curriculum while helping students and teachers reach their goals. Some of the reasons cited for going online include access to a tremendous amount of information, the ability to communicate with others who share specific interests, and the fact that it motivates students (Murphy 1994).


Advantages of using the Internet include its ability to arouse the interest of students, the ease of communication among teachers for sharing ideas, the availability of new resources, and the potential to develop new relationships all over the world (Pool et al. 1995). The Internet also offers the possibility of interaction with experts (P. McCorkle, Internet message, July 18, 1995). Telecommunications, specifically the Internet, are potentially the most significant educational tools to come along in quite a while. However, there are problems such as making sure that the technology is used in educationally appropriate ways. Too often people worry more about the accessibility of the Internet to all students than about using it effectively in their classrooms (Maddux 1994). Other problems include antiquated hardware and software particularly in elementary schools, lack of technical and curriculum support, lack of coherent structure, stability, and documentation, lack of training, censorship, and quality control (Maddux 1994; Murphy 1995).


Listservs are automated mailing lists of people with a similar interest. They are used for transmitting news, searching for information, and networking. All messages are sent to members' mailboxes. Following are some listservs that are of interest to vocational educators.


[email protected] (American Association for 

Agricultural Education)



[email protected] (adult and continuing education)



[email protected] (AUTOCAD discussion list)



[email protected] (Technologies in Business Education)



[email protected] (discussion of business 

education teaching practices)



[email protected] (for faculty, staff, and 

administrators at two-year institutions)



[email protected] (National Educational 

Dissemination System)



[email protected] (education policy analysis)



[email protected] (Florida School-to-Work 




[email protected] (National Business Education 




[email protected] (National Workforce Assistance 




[email protected] (School-to-Work Network)



[email protected] (School-to-work/tech prep)



[email protected] (Special Interest 

Group/Telecommunications of ISTE)



[email protected] (teaching in the community college)



[email protected] (technology education)



[email protected] (training and development)



[email protected] (National Center for Research 

in Vocational Education)

Usenet is a distributed message system that exchanges messages among subscriber sites (Ellsworth 1994). Newsgroups of interest to vocational educators include the following:



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The World Wide Web allows the possible integration of full-color graphics, varying typefaces, animation, and sound (Seguin and Seguin 1995). WWW sites of interest include:

Universal resource locator


Florida School-to-Work Clearinghouse

Search for keywords throughout the Web

National Center for Research in

Vocational Education

Employment for the U.S. high technology industry

National Library of Education

(through the U.S. Department of Education)

North Central Regional Educational Laboratory

Texas Tool Box from North Harris Montgomery

Community College District

The Education Center, Peterson's Guides

A catalog of the WWW

Internet addresses to try for information on additional resources include: 

[email protected]


[email protected]

National Center for Research in

Vocational Education 

[email protected]

ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career,

and Vocational Education 

[email protected]


Many electronic journals and newsletters are available over the Internet. A few are listed here.

[email protected]

(refereed journal for community college educators)

[email protected]

(American Journal of Distance Education)

[email protected] (information technology news)

[email protected]

(Educational Uses of Information Technology)

[email protected]

(New Horizons in Adult Education)

[email protected] (Journal of Extension)

[email protected]

(Journal of Technology Education)

[email protected] (Teaching in the Community Colleges)


Ellsworth, J. H. EDUCATION ON THE INTERNET. Indianapolis, IN: Sams Publishing, 1994.

Hanson, W. R. "Student Drivers on the Information Highway." WILSON LIBRARY BULLETIN 69, no. 3 (November 1994): 34-37. (EJ 493 345)

Maddux, C. D. "The Internet: Educational Prospects And Problems." EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY 34, no. 7 (September 1994): 37-42. (EJ 489 815)

Murphy, T. "Merging Your Classroom onto the Information Superhighway." AGRICULTURAL EDUCATION MAGAZINE 67, no. 2 (August 1994): 6-8.

Pool, T. S.; Blanchard, S. M.; and Hale, S. A. "From over the Internet." TECHTRENDS 40, no. 1 (January-February 1995): 24-28. (EJ 497 975)

Seguin, A., and Seguin, C. "Window to the World." VOCATIONAL EDUCATION JOURNAL 70, no. 2 (February 1995): 30-33. (EJ 497 204)

Watson, L. "Net Talk." VOCATIONAL EDUCATION JOURNAL 69, no. 6 (September 1994): 41.

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