My Internet history

The early years

This will be my personal history of the Internet. Because some of it is from memory I will be editing this page extensively.


The photo is of "Deb's Web" from December 1996. The site was actually earlier. The first web pages were gray. Color did not be come the fashion until HTML 3.0. At that point you got 16 colors to work with.  I taught many internet classes with gray web sites. The first "Introduction to the Internet" class was all line command.


I did line command on a main frame computer after work hours. Basically, you would enter a line command such as telnet>site.name to visit and see what was available to you. The first internet browser was SlipKnot. It attempted to make a graphical interface to a line text world. SlipKnot was painful to use.


My beginning web pages were sent to our network manager, Ruth Watson. Later, Ruth and I were to teach teach a couple of classes a semester. She suggested creating "Deb's Web" and it stayed around for a while before search engines were available. The whole premise of "Deb's Web" was to list interesting sites to visit. 


There was a lot of funding needed to get everyone onboard the "Information superhighway" as it was called then. Computer labs and classrooms, routers and wiring - lots of pulled wiring - was needed. Ruth Watson, Larry Jones and many other people at Kent State University worked on funding. I worked on having fun with it.


The best way to get funding is to have politicians visit. I am not sure the date but at one point with news cameras running I was teaching then Governor George Voinovich how to create web pages. I was so terribly shy and though the video is probably lost it had to have shown in the videos taken that day. For me, creating web sites has always been fun.


Ruth Watson and I taught classes right from the beginning of Kent State University's commitment to bring the Internet to Kent's faculty, students and staff . First as special topics course then later on as regular courses. We always carried a full complement of students many who went on to work in the IT field. I have always been proud of each one of our students.


It was during this time I earned my 2nd Masters degree. I already had a Masters of Library Science. This time it was a Masters in Technology. I was working a full time administrative position, teaching part time and working on my Masters Degree. The only free time I had was Sunday afternoons. No one outside of Kent saw me.


The first course was "Introduction to the Internet." This course was taught, at first, as accessing the internet via line commands. The students learned the history of the Internet up to and including Netscape Navigator. We taught them what gopher, telnet, etc, etc were and how to use them.


This was also the era of the Youngstown Freenet. The Freenets were community based areas of the internet. Met many of my friends there. But I digress.


10 years later Ruth and I went our separate ways. She went into full time teaching; I went into Distance Education. By this time, we had developed and taught classes in Web Development, Multimedia Development, Web programming, early cell phone programming, XML, Distance Education - just to name a few.


In the mid-1990s Kent State University assisted a start up company with a product called LearnLinc. Learnlinc was desktop videoconferencing with multimedia course content. (Think of it as kind of classroom Skype.) My interest in Distance Education was spiked. I left the Trumbull Campus to join the staff on the Kent Campus.

LearnLinc, VTEL and Polycom

Distance Education

I started my Kent Campus career April 1, 1999 in the office of Distributed Learning. My co-workers included Cathy Mahrle, John Atkinson and Bob Smith. It was a crazy time. And, I loved every minute of it.


Learnlinc was desktop video conferencing focused on education. Faculty member taught when they "had the floor." Students could talk when the faculty member gave them the "floor." Multimedia content was presented to the students in the center of the screen. Students could also text chat their faculty member during class - privately or publicly. I saw this as the future of education.


Drove for about an hour to work then worked any thing from 10-16 hours a day. 


Web based courses came about the same time as LearnLinc. We supported that too with a Kent created package that was soon replaced with Blackboard. Hint to my readers: purchasing a vendor created product is easier to deal with. They get all the problems to fix.


VTEL (and later Polycom) were also added to the mix of Distance Education supported by Distributed Learning. We referred it to people as room based education.

Winding down

Heading to retirement

 

Nothing lasts forever. We were separated by a re-organization then we were laid off. During the lay off, Bob Smith died.


2 years into my layoff, I found out there was worse things than being out of work. I ended up with the supervisor from hell at a community college. Got laid off again - but this time did not mind.


When I was almost out of money, I was hired back at Kent State University Ashtabula doing what I had done - distance education. I was back home. I remained there until I retired Halloween, 2011.


Anyone who has heard about Ashtabula has probably heard about the weather. The weather is everything you would image it to be. I called it business casual with winter boots. My first month there we had the ice storm to beat all ice storms. Stayed the night in a hotel with no heat or electric.


Since then Cathy and John retired. Also retired is Bob Hart - he managed the network that kept all the distance education going. I always said I was the luckiest person with being part of Kent State University. I had the best supervisors and the best job ever. And the internet was very kind to me and gave me a a good living. I felt blessed.