The web at 30: a resources roundup

The world wide web turns 30 years old tomorrow and there are celebrations taking place across the world. For educators it means a bonanza of resources and activities about the world wide web that can be adapted for use in the classroom. Here’s our roundup of what’s happening and our choice of activities to mark the occasion.

Cern, where it all started in 1989, begins the story:

In March 1989, Tim Berners-Lee, along with Robert Cailliau, at Cern, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, circulated “Information Management: A Proposal.”

It imagined a simple client-server architecture, and links, and a six-month time frame.

His boss at Cern at the time — Mark Sendall — labeled it the now classic understatement of the century: “Vague, but exciting.”

Alongside a potted history, Cern is also offering a timeline, code details and, because the World Wide Web wasn’t just a programme for browsing files but was also a browser and editor itself, explains how you can use it the create web pages.

Cern is where Tim Berners-Lee’s own World Wide Web Foundation is kicking off its celebrations. He will begin a 30-hour journey there at with a live streamed discussion at 07:00 CET (06:00 UK time) about the impact the web has had over the past 30 years.  His journey will finish in Lagos but he’ll be stopping off in London for another live streamed discussion, this one at the Science Museum from 17:00 GMT.

The World Wide Web Foundation is also building a twitter timeline of the web’s history. It explains:

“Each hour over a 30-hour period on March 12 and 13 will represent a year of the web’s history. The Web Foundation will activate the timeline with a tweet at 08:00 CET, representing 1989, the year Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the web. Then at each consecutive hour, there will be posts from founders, influencers, brands, inventors and activists around the world, recalling a significant moment from the web’s history.”

It is asking for everyone to contribute their favourite web moments via Twitter, using the format

In (x year), ____________ #Web30 #ForTheWeb

How about retelling the tale of TBL and WWW?

For younger pupils, retelling a story through animation can be a fun way to develop a deeper understanding of the subject.

It’s an activity we worked on with children from Telferscot Primary School as part of Southbank Centre’s Web We Want festival in 2014 when 88 Digital Leaders from across 14 local schools came together to contribute their ideas to shaping the future of the world wide web.

We set children at Telferscot Primary School the task of explaining Tim Berners-Lee’s life and work using I Can Animate. Have a look at what they produced:


A good starting point for a narrative is the Science Museum’s very easy-to-understand history of the world wide web that covers the ideas behind the web, what hypertext is and the key components of the web. The World Wide Web Foundation has a good brief biography of Tim Berners-Lee, which includes nice details such as how his interest in model trains as a child led to an interest in electronics and from there to computers.

The BBC and the British Council also have a lesson plan for an older age group in which “students will talk about the World Wide Web, read an article about its history, learn how to give web and email addresses, and finally describe and present a website to their classmates.”

Talking prompts

At the Web We Want festival we also prompted children to think and talk about the world wide web with some prompts:

  • Do young people use the web in a different way to their parents and older people? In what way?
  • What do you think the web will be like in another 30 years? What might you be able to do that you can’t do now?

Trace the path to a network

How about looking to see how far data travels on the world wide web? Ask the class to think of their three favourite websites and then, using  You Get Signal’s visual route trace tool, discover:

  • Which countries are they based in?
  • Which countries did the data go through to reach you?
  • How far did the data travel?
  • How long did it take?

Spot the difference

Take a look at the very first www page. What’s different when you compare it with modern websites?

Make a page

Use this site to make your own www page. Use it to explain everything you’ve learnt about the internet and the world wide web. Think about:

  • The history and geography of the internet
  • The people involved in its past
  • Try to include as many HTML tags as possible!

Plan a website

Experiment with storyboarding techniques to plan your own website.

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Upcoming CPD

Summer primary school computing conference
Summer primary school computing conference

This event will build upon the Autumn computing conference by inviting subject leaders to reflect on their year in the role, sharing their successes and challenges. It will also introduce new ideas, tools and approaches through talks and practical activities led by members of the CLC team, with opportunities for attendees to share their own expertise and experience. Over the course of the conference activities will touch on the three main areas of the computing curriculum: computer science, digital literacy and information technology. We will also feature advice and examples illustrating the use of technology to support blended learning.

- 15:30
Computing subject leaders, Teachers...
Creative Arts, Digital and children – CLC meets More Than Robots online
Creative Arts, Digital and children - CLC meets More Than Robots online

Combining forces for the first time, the Connected Learning Centre and More Than Robots have created a session for teachers, youth organisations, researchers and policymakers interested in the digital provision of creative arts for primary aged pupils.


The Play Observatory - Prof. John Potter

“In their own words”: Westminster Abbey & CLC digital projects - Sian Shaw

Building (and maintaining) a city-wide primary arts curriculum to raise attainment - Kate Fellows

More to be added soon

This interactive and inclusive meet up will include inspiring examples of how technology can be used to support learning in music, visual art and drama in person and online at home drawing on our experiences as Tate Exchange associates and our partnership work with a range of cultural institutions.

This informal event is an opportunity to discuss real examples of what does/doesn’t work, meet colleagues from other sectors working on similar challenges and share useful research, news or updates

The morning will include case study presentations (details below) followed by a Q&A. There will also be an opportunity for a rapid sharing round for launches, project updates or requests for help and a short break to avoid zoom brain drain.

- 11:30
KS1, KS2
Subject leaders, Teachers...

Upcoming Special projects

The News Project
- 14:25

Special project in collaboration with First News Education

For a third year, building on two successful previous projects, we are once again partnering with the children’s newspaper First News, fellow member of the national Making Sense of Media and News Literacy networks. This special project with a literacy, PSHE and citizenship, as well as computing focus, highlights our specialist interest in this important aspect of digital and critical literacy.

The News Project will enable participating classes from year 5 to immerse themselves in news and current affairs using First News and the Bett award-winning First News iHUB, which will be provided free of charge during the school-based part of the project over a six week period. Under the guidance of their teacher, pupils will be supported in their development as a community of fully informed news readers. Classes will test their new critical skills and knowledge in the culminating virtual celebration event which will include a news competition and team-based critical literacy and editorial activities. After the event, schools will be able to use the resources from the day in their school.

The project will launch with an introductory CPD session for teachers to set the context, demonstrate resources and to plan for the school-based activities. 

Initial CPD session - Thursday 21st October 4pm-5.00pm. 

Project work undertaken in school - October and November.

Special event - Thursday 25th November 9.30am-2.45pm.

The Garden Museum

The CLC is once again partnering with the Garden Museum to offer a partnership project for KS1 pupils (primarily suited to Yr2). Located next to Lambeth Palace on the bank of the Thames, the museum has an inspiring collection that provides the ideal stimulus for young learners to explore the world around them.

Pupils will use technology alongside the museum’s collection to explore the wonderful world of seeds.

  • How are they planted?
  • How do they spread?
  • What is inside them?

 The Garden Museum has a large collection of seeds and tools that pupils will engage with.

These half-day sessions will take place at the Garden Museum.

There is a limited number of dates available, so please book early to avoid disappointment.

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