Steffi Lewis


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My Introduction To The Internet

This is 1994 calling ...

Posted by Steffi Lewis on 10/12/2013

Way back in 1994, I was working for The Open University as an IT trainer. I loved running courses there and they had very well equipped training rooms. I used to teach faculty members how to use Windows, Word, Excel and PowerPoint and I loved being the centre of attention for a whole day ...

the power of the world wide web was immediately apparent to me

the power of the world wide web was immediately apparent to me

Of course it was about the students and getting my knowledge into their heads and I was very good at it. My courses had a long waiting list and it felt great to see people on the intro course and then have them return for the intermediate and advanced ones a couple of weeks later.

One morning I was sitting at my desk in the training room planning that day's course, when my Training Manager David walked in and said "Next week, I'd like you to run the Introduction to The Internet course". I looked at him and said "Internet? What's that then David?" Of course I had email but back then I'd never heard of the World Wide Web, of Veronica's or Gopher's and the term Internet wasn't in common usage. David said I should come in the next day and sit in on this week's course then I could get a feel for it. If I liked it - and the first course I ran went well - then I could take over and run it every week which meant an extra four training days a month and at rate of £250 per day, this was an offer not to be refused!

So the next day I sat in on the course, lurking at the back of the class whilst the trainer taught, watching in awe at this thing called The Internet. Nothing that revolutionary at first, but what really got my attention was when the trainer started to demonstrate the World Wide Web. To say that was a defining moment in my life is a complete understatement. Tim Burners-Lee - the inventor of the Web - had just claimed his next convert. I could immediately see the benefits of this method of grouping pages of information together under a domain name and linking them together. It was beautiful in its simplicity.

I took over the course a couple of weeks later and found more and more cool things to do with the Internet and in particular the World Wide Web. I even taught myself to write web pages using raw HTML which meant we created a couple more courses to teach OU staff how to do it too! I loved being a trainer!

A few months later, David told me that he was changing roles and was moving to a different faculty and would I be interested in working with him there on a number of projects? I immediately said yes and overnight doubled the number of days I was freelancing with the Open University.

I am very proud to say that in 1994 I created my first complete website for a course called MU120 - which was about mathematics - and my site ran alongside the BBC2 television series. It even had some early QuickTime movies built into it and became a template for course websites throughout the OU for a number of years. What was even more amazing is that it was still available over 10 years later! Guess they liked it and felt no need to change it.

So from my first website for The Open University to in less than 20 years? Well, there were a lot of steps in between - and I'm sure I'll write about them in future posts, however for the time being I'm just going to smile at the simplicity - and effectiveness - of my first ever website.

S x

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