Unit 10 - Communication {{ currentPage ? currentPage.title : "" }}

Communicate with other ICT users using email

Constraints that affect the use of email

There are many rules to ensure the security of the email messages we send and receive and also to prevent people from writing things that are regarded as unacceptable:

  • Laws within a country. Many countries have laws to protect people against the misuse of emails:

    • Many countries require senders of emails to obtain “opt-in” permission before emails are sent out.

    • It is important that emails are not sent out with false or misleading subject lines.

    • A valid postal address must accompany emails from companies or organisations.

    • Many countries do not allow companies or organisations to harvest email addresses (this is the process of capturing lists of email addresses)

    • Companies and organisations must make their privacy policy very clear to subscribers - who must be made aware of such policies.

    • Companies must provide subscribers with a very clear way to unsubscribe from their listings.

    • A company or individual must have a clear way for recipients to “opt out”.

  • Acceptable language. The following is a list of unacceptable content to be used in emails, text messages and online forums:

    • Obscene images

    • Language that is regarded as abusive, profane, inflammatory, coercive, defamatory or blasphemous.

    • Racist, exploitative, violent messages.

    • Use of illegal materials in messages.

In many countries there are penalties for going outside the above boundaries. It is essential that anyone writing emails or posting messages (on forums, bulletin boards) is aware of the above constraints.

  • Copyright. Emails are subject to copyright laws. As with web pages, the copyright in an email is determined by its content. Printing, copying or forwarding emails is generally not considered a breach of copyright unless the sender has indicated clearly that the message is confidential or the subject of copyright law. It is important that the recipient checks this out before forwarding it on to somebody else. Most companies or organisations will clearly set out their policies on sending emails and the material that they contain. This will be particularly true if the sender’s email address is part of the company’s name. Emails and attachments from companies and organisations will usually contain a copyright statement, such as:

Any dissemination or copying of this email or attachment is strictly prohibited unless you are the intended recipient or are responsible for delivering the message to the intended recipient. If you have received this email in error, please let us know and then delete the original email and any attachments.

  • Security and password protection. It is very important to consider the security of emails. Some methods are:

    • Using strong passwords.

    • Changing passwords on a regular basis.

    • Using spam filters to remove suspicious emails to a junk folder or even to block the email entirely.

    • Running anti-virus and anti-spam software at all times on your computer to protect against emails from unknown or malicious sources.

  • Netiquette. It is a shortened form of the phrase “Internet etiquette”, which refers to the need to respect other users’ views and display common courtesy when posting views in online discussion groups or when sending out emails. It is very important to consider what you write always since the reader can’t see your facial expression or body language. What may have been intended to be a joke could offend somebody if they misunderstand your message and make the wrong conclusions. Always be aware of this when posting messages or sending emails. Some netiquette rules:

    • Don’t be abusive - don’t threaten people or use personal violence.

    • Don’t send spam - don’t repeatedly send somebody the same information.

    • Be clear and succinct with your message - don’t waffle.

    • Remember that posts are public in most cases and can be read by anyone.

    • Always check your spelling and grammar - give a good impression.

    • Respect people’s privacy and don’t discuss or publish information that might embarrass somebody.

    • Forgive people’s mistakes - don’t be compelled to respond to an error.

    • Don’t use capital letters to highlight comments - this is seen as shouting in emails, text messages and online forums.

    • Don’t plagiarise - always acknowledge quotes used in any messages you write.

    • Don’t use too many emoticons as they might annoy your readers.

  • Spam. Any unsolicited email sent over the internet is regarded as spam. It is often sent to multiple recipients and can range from being simply annoying to dangerous. Spam can contain viruses or be part of a phishing scam.

    Why spam needs to be prevented:

    • Because it uses up people’s time.

    • It generally annoys people.

    • It uses up valuable bandwidth on the internet, slowing it down.

    • It can have viruses attached or even be part of a phishing scam.

    • It can clog up users’ inboxes.

  • Email groups. They are used for a number of purposes:

    • It is easier for a user to send out multiple emails if the addresses are all grouped together under a single name; the user only needs to use that single name in the “to” box.

    • Companies and organisations can group people together for marketing purposes, for example according to age, ethnicity, hobbies, favourite music and so on - this means that each email can target specific groups.

    • Spammers can create email groups by buying addresses of people from certain companies or from software that raids address books on computers or email companies - this means that several thousand people can be sent spam by simply pressing the enter key.

    • Companies use email groups to set up meetings, to ensure that everybody is always invited to attend. It would be easy to forget a person if the email addresses were all typed in individually; this way you can be sure all the correct people have received your messages.

Effective use of the internet

Fundamentals of the internet

  • Define the terms internet and intranet (see Unit 4)

  • Explain the differences between the internet, an intranet and the World Wide Web (WWW) (see unit 4)

  • Explain the concept of storage in the cloud (see Unit 8)

  • General internet terms:

    • HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP). It is a set of rules that must be obeyed when transferring data across the internet. Protocols are sets of rules agreed by the “sender” and “recipient” when data is being transferred between devices. When a web page is being accessed, entering “http://” at the front of an address tells the web browser that http rules for communication are to be obeyed.

    • HyperText Transfer Protocol secure variant (HTTPS). When some form of security (for example, SSL) certification or encryption is used then the protocol http is changed to https. Because of encryption, it is slower to use https than http, so it is usually only adopted when sensitive or private data is being transferred across the internet.

    • Uniform Resource Locator (URL) and web browsers. A web browser is software that allows a user to display a web page on their computer screen. They interpret or translate the HTML from websites and show the result of the translation. Most web browsers have these features:

      • They have a home page.

      • They have the ability to store a user’s favourite websites/pages.

      • They keep a history of the websites visited by the user.

      • They give the ability to go backward and forward through websites opened.

Web browsers use Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) to access websites, retrieve files and so on. They are represented by a set of four numbers, for example (httm://

However, this is not very user friendly, and an alphanumeric format is usually used instead:

protocol://website address/path/filename


Protocol: is usually http or https

Website address:

Domain host (www)

Domain name (name of website)

Domain type (.com, .org, .edu)

Sometimes a country code is given (.uk, .es)

Path: it is a web page (if omitted then root directory of website)

Filename: it is the item on the web page.

    • Hyperlink. Data that redirects the user to another web page or section of the same page when we click on it.

    • Internet Service Provider (ISP) (see Unit 4)

    • File Transfer Protocol (FTP). It is an application protocol for the transfer of files across the internet.

    • explain what a search engine is used for

    • Blogs. Short for web logs, they are personal internet journals (diaries) where the writer (blogger) will publish their observations on some topic. Features:

      • Updated on a regular basis by the author

      • Usually organised in reverse chronological order (most recent to least recent entry)

      • Normally public - anyone can read them

      • Entries normally come from a single author

      • Other internet users can’t change blogs - they can only read them

    • Wikis. They are web applications or websites that allow users to create and edit web pages using any web browser. A wiki will support hyperlinks and uses a very simple syntax to create pages. They are often described as “web pages with an edit button”. Features:

      • Anyone can edit, delete or modify the content

      • Many authors can be involved in a wiki

      • It is possible to organise a page any way that the authors wish

      • It stores a document history that keeps track of all entries and modifications

      • Can be easily edited using a web browser

      • Allows large documents to be seen by many people - it is easier than emailing several people

    • Social networking sites. They focus on building online communities of users who share the same interests and activities. They enable people to share photos, videos and music, hobbies, favourite eating places, and so on. The members do this by creating public profiles and thus form relationships with other users. Features:

      • Each member is provided with free web space

      • Each member can build their own private and public profiles

      • It is possible to upload content such as text messages, photos and videos

      • It is possible to write on each other’s wall

      • Members are given free instant messaging and video chatting

      • It is possible to email other members within the community

      • Members can create pages where they can post photos, articles, and so on

      • It is possible to invite people to become friends

      • Members have control over who can access their private or personal data

Advantages and disadvantages of using the internet


  • Information on the internet tends to be up-to-date since it is quicker and easier to amend web pages than, for example, to reprint books.

  • The internet has vast, almost limitless, amounts of information.

  • Searching for information using a search engine is fast and easy.

  • People can look for information in the comfort of their own home - there is no need to travel to a library to find the required books.

  • Unless the required book can be found in a library, there is a need to buy it - information on the internet is usually free of charge.

  • Pages on the internet can have multimedia elements (for example videos, animations, cartoons and music/voiceovers) that make learning more interesting and often make it easier to understand the topics - unless textbooks have accompanying CD-ROMs, this option is not available in books.


  • The internet is not regulated - anything can be posted on a web page and, consequently, information may be biased or totally incorrect (books, on the other hand, usually undergo some form of review before being published)

  • There is always the risk of accessing inappropriate websites when using search engines; these can take many forms and can be very distressing to certain people.

  • It is too easy to be distracted when searching on the internet - users can find computer games or enter social networking sites instead of doing their work.

  • There is always the risk of information overload if the user lacks the necessary experience or expertise when using search engines.

  • Because it is very easy to copy material from the internet, there is a huge risk of plagiarism; this is more likely to occur than when using books since this requires considerably more effort than a simple copy and paste.

  • Some research skills are lost when using the internet as search engines do all the work for you.

Why an internet search to find relevant information is not always fast

When using search engines, there is always the danger of information overload. It is possible for millions of sites to be found matching the given criteria. Unless the user narrows down their search criteria, it can take a long time to find out exactly what they are looking for. Also, if the user is uncertain of what needs to be asked, it can also take a long time to obtain only relevant information. While search engine companies deny it, certain websites are also placed at the top of their lists. When a user enters certain words, these websites in the list always show up first in the search results and may not contain exactly what the user is looking for. Search engines also rank the time it takes to load up pages from websites - the fastest are given priority when the results appear on the screen. All of this means that the user may not find exactly what they are looking for when using the search engine.

Why it is not always easy to find reliable information on the internet

When using a search engine to find information on the internet, there is no guarantee that the material returned is accurate or unbiased. Essentially, anybody is able to set up a website and write whatever they like without it having to be first verified (the only stipulation is that the material posted doesn’t break any laws - if it does then the author is liable to criminal prosecution). However, the material can be inaccurate or unverified and it can also be biased towards one way of thinking only. Unlike books, the material posted on websites doesn’t have to be checked by other people to ensure it is factually correct. It is also possible for search engines to suggest websites that are completely out of date so that the information displayed on the web pages is no longer correct or relevant. It is arguable whether or not policing of the internet would improve this situation.

How to evaluate the reliability of information found on the internet

  • Anybody can set up a website, so information is not necessarily reliable or accurate.

  • Some commercial websites will be biased (to advertise their products, for example).

  • If a website has excessive advertising it could be unreliable (due to pressures from those advertisers on their website)

  • If the advertising on a website is related only to its own products it could be unreliable.

  • It is possible to use the final part of a URL to identify a website’s reliability, for example, websites ending with: .edu and .gov are more likely to be reliable.

  • If a comparison of information from reliable sites or reliable books is made, this will often help to show if the information is reliable.

  • It is always a good idea to see if responsible bodies have endorsed the website.

  • Check if the website has links to other reliable websites or to unreliable websites.

  • If a website has testimonials, this can indicate reliability.

  • If the date of the last update was a long time ago it is likely to be unreliable or out of date.

  • If the author of the website has good credentials, then it is more likely for the content to be reliable.

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