Lesson 14: Practice PT - The Internet and Society


This lesson is a capstone to the Internet unit. Students will research and prepare a flash talk about an issue facing society: either Net Neutrality or Internet Censorship. Developing an informed opinion about these issues hinges on an understanding of how the Internet functions as a system. Students will prepare and deliver a flash talk that should combine forming an opinion about the issue and an exhibition of their knowledge of the internet.

This lesson is good practice for certain elements of the AP Explore Performance Task.1 The primary things practiced here are: doing a bit of research about impacts of computing (though here it’s specifically about the Internet), explaining some technical details related to ideas in computer science, and connecting these ideas to global and social impacts. Students will practice synthesizing information, and presenting their learning in a flash talk.

1Note: This is NOT the official AP® Performance Task that will be submitted as part of the Advanced Placement exam; it is a practice activity intended to prepare students for some portions of their individual performance at a later time.


This lesson has dual purposes of honing "rapid research" skills and tying a temporary bow on the Internet Unit.

The act of doing "rapid research" is one that will come up over and over again in this course. We want to build students' confidence and skills in researching topic using a variety of sources. In the case of this lesson we want students to read articles on the issues but scan for the terms and vocabulary they know like: IP, DNS, HTTP, routing, packets, scaling, redundancy, reliability. We want students to be able to explain with some level of technical proficiency how these things work as well as the potential beneficial and harmful effects.

Net Neutrality and Internet Censorship are related issues having to do with organizations attempting to control internet traffic for a variety of reasons. There are many other large societal issues and dilemmas related to the Internet besides these that like: big data, surveillance, security and encryption. We address these issues in Unit 4: Big Data and Privacy. For this practice PT we want to keep the focus on issues that relate more directly to the systems and protocols


Getting Started (2 mins)

Activity (3 days)



Extended Learning

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Students will be able to:

  • Research a global impact of the Internet.
  • Create and present a flash talk on a global impact of the Internet.
  • Analyze the relationship of an Internet technology to the impact.


  • Review the Practice PT and decide how students should present (see Lesson Plan)


Heads Up! Please make a copy of any documents you plan to share with students.

For the Students


  • DNS - short for Domain Name System, this system translates domain names (like example.com) to IP addresses (like
  • HTTP - HyperText Transfer Protocol - the protocol used for transmitting web pages over the Internet
  • IP Address - A number assigned to any item that is connected to the Internet.
  • Net Neutrality - the principle that all Internet traffic should be treated equally by Internet Service Providers.
  • TCP - Transmission Control Protocol - provides reliable, ordered, and error-checked delivery of a stream of packets on the internet. TCP is tightly linked with IP and usually seen as TCP/IP in writing.

Teaching Guide

Getting Started (2 mins)


At the beginning of this unit we looked at Vint Cerf’s RFC entitled “The Internet is for Everyone” in which he laid out some challenges to the prospect that the Internet would be a large scale, open resource for everyone.

However, on the scale of human history, the Internet is still relatively new and the Internet has introduced some new and potentially difficult issues for people and society that have never existed before. We are still grappling with these issues and they often present moral and ethical dilemmas about what’s best to do.

By the same token a large number of people do not understand as much about the Internet and how it works as you do. You have now learned quite a bit about how the Internet works as a large scale system, that involves layers of abstraction, protocols and algorithms. You have learned about some of the most fundamental protocols and structures that contribute to the functioning of the Internet.

Present the Practice PT

Several major issues facing society today require a knowledge of the Internet and how it works in order to have a well-informed opinion about what’s best or the right thing to do. Over the next few days you will research one of these issues and prepare a (very) short presentation about it - a Flash Talk

Activity (3 days)

Teaching Tip

Teaching Strategies:

  • Pair each student with a research “buddy” to either collaboratively research or to bounce ideas off each other
  • Encourage students to start by just simply looking for words and names of protocols that they recognize in the text of articles
  • Students may or may not find the research organizer helpful - you might have another template for them to follow that provides more structure or guidance.

Practice PT - Flash Talk: The Internet and Society.

Distribute and review: Flash Talk: The Internet and Society - Practice PT

This Practice PT has 3 main components to it:

  1. Pick an issue and research it.
  2. Prepare (write) a Flash Talk
  3. Deliver it.

Suggested Timeline

Here is a sample timeline for how this project might unfold.

DAY 1 - Start Research

Teaching Tip

If students choose the advanced option they are still responsible for knowing what the issue of Net Neutrality is about. Researching protocol hacks is a certain kind of fun, and students may get very "into" it. However, you may want to ensure to pair a student or group who chooses the "hacking" option with a group who researched Net Neutrality or censorship to make sure that the concepts get to both groups.

DAY 2 - Start Flash Talk Prep

  • Conclude research

Content Corner

Purpose and Relationship to the Explore PT:

Note that preparing a flash talk is basically like writing a short speech. 2 minutes is about 300 words, which is the maximum word-length of a typical reflection prompt on the Explore Performance task. So you might want to reframe this as a simple prompt to respond to.

The Explore PT is also an individual task for students. You may want students to have a partner to work with here, but students do need some practice doing these things on their own.

The primary skills related to the Explore PT that students are practicing here are:

  • Research on a topic related to computing
  • Connecting Computing to socially relevant issues
  • Explaining the technical details necessary for understanding the issues at play
  • Writing short concise text that explains a complicated issue and associated technology

  • Prepare (write) script for flash talk

DAY 3 - Finish and Deliver

  • Present flash talk (see options listed above)
  • Submit materials for assessment


The wrap up should happen on Day 3 and you can choose from one of the Delivery and Assessment Options described below.

The major thing students should be able to do is describe is the relationship and connection between a societal issue, like Net Neutrality, with aspects of the technical underpinnings that gave rise to the issue in the first place.

Delivery and Assessment Options.

You probably don’t have time for every student to give their flash talk to the entire class. You might consider doing one of the following options:

  • Put students in small groups of to give their flash talks to each other
  • Have students trade what they wrote for the flash talk and present the other person’s talk
  • Only require that they write the talk (basically a speech or response to a reflection prompt) and turn it in
  • Have students read each others’ talks anonymously and evaluate it according to the rubric
  • Collect the student’s research organizer as well as a text-copy of the flash talk for assessment.


Rubric: See rubric in the Practice PT document.

Extended Learning

Standards Alignment

View full course alignment

CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards (2011)

CD - Computers & Communication Devices
  • CD.L3A:8 - Explain the basic components of computer networks (e.g., servers, file protection, routing, spoolers and queues, shared resources, and fault-tolerance).
  • CD.L3A:9 - Describe how the Internet facilitates global communication.
CI - Community, Global, and Ethical Impacts
  • CI.L2:2 - Demonstrate knowledge of changes in information technologies over time and the effects those changes have on education, the workplace and society.
  • CI.L2:3 - Analyze the positive and negative impacts of computing on human culture.
  • CI.L2:5 - Describe ethical issues that relate to computers and networks (e.g., security, privacy, ownership and information sharing).
  • CI.L3A:10 - Describe security and privacy issues that relate to computer networks.
  • CI.L3A:4 - Compare the positive and negative impacts of technology on culture (e.g., social networking, delivery of news and other public media, and intercultural communication).
CL - Collaboration
  • CL.L2:2 - Collaboratively design, develop, publish and present products (e.g., videos, podcasts, websites) using technology resources that demonstrate and communicate curriculum. concepts.

Computer Science Principles

6.3 - Cybersecurity is an important concern for the Internet and the systems built on it.
6.3.1 - Identify existing cybersecurity concerns and potential options to address these issues with the Internet and the systems built on it. [P1]
  • 6.3.1A - The trust model of the Internet involves tradeoffs.
  • 6.3.1B - The domain name system (DNS) was not designed to be completely secure.
7.1 - Computing enhances communication, interaction, and cognition.
7.1.1 - Explain how computing innovations affect communication, interaction, and cognition. [P4]
  • 7.1.1A - Email, short message service (SMS), and chat have fostered new ways to communicate and collaborate.
  • 7.1.1B - Video conferencing and video chat have fostered new ways to communicate and collaborate.
  • 7.1.1C - Social media continues to evolve and foster new ways to communicate.
  • 7.1.1D - Cloud computing fosters new ways to communicate and collaborate.
  • 7.1.1H - Social media, such as blogs and Twitter, have enhanced dissemination.
  • 7.1.1I - Global Positioning System (GPS) and related technologies have changed how humans travel, navigate, and find information related to geolocation.
  • 7.1.1J - Sensor networks facilitate new ways of interacting with the environment and with physical systems.
  • 7.1.1K - Smart grids, smart buildings, and smart transportation are changing and facilitating human capabilities.
  • 7.1.1M - The Internet and the Web have enhanced methods of and opportunities for communication and collaboration.
  • 7.1.1O - The Internet and the Web have impacted productivity, positively and negatively, in many areas.
7.4 - Computing innovations influence and are influenced by the economic, social, and cultural contexts in which they are designed and used.
7.4.1 - Explain the connections between computing and economic, social, and cultural contexts. [P1]
  • 7.4.1A - The innovation and impact of social media and online access is different in different countries and in different socioeconomic groups.
  • 7.4.1B - Mobile, wireless, and networked computing have an impact on innovation throughout the world.
  • 7.4.1D - Groups and individuals are affected by the “digital divide” — differing access to computing and the Internet based on socioeconomic or geographic characteristics.
  • 7.4.1E - Networks and infrastructure are supported by both commercial and governmental initiatives.

CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards (2017)

IC - Impacts of Computing
  • 3A-IC-24 - Evaluate the ways computing impacts personal, ethical, social, economic, and cultural practices.
  • 3A-IC-28 - Explain the beneficial and harmful effects that intellectual property laws can have on innovation.
  • 3A-IC-30 - Evaluate the social and economic implications of privacy in the context of safety, law, or ethics.
  • 3B-IC-26 - Evaluate the impact of equity, access, and influence on the distribution of computing resources in a global society.
  • 3B-IC-28 - Debate laws and regulations that impact the development and use of software.