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. 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.

Note: 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.



Students will be able to:


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

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

Read the following prompt to the students.

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.


To start, distribute and review the "Flash Talk: The Internet and Society - Practice PT" resource.

Pro Tip

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

Note that this lesson is expected to take three days. Below is a sample timeline for how this project might unfold.

Day 1 - Start Research

1. Review the "Flash Talk: The Internet and Society - Practice PT" resource

2. Students choose a topic:

3. Students start research

Pro 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

1. Conclude research

2. Prepare (write) script for flash talk

Day 3 - Finish and Deliver

1. Present flash talk

2. Submit materials for assessment

Content Corner

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:

Wrap Up

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:


Assessment for this lesson is based on their Flash Talk presentation, rather than the usual questions. See the rubric in the "Flash Talk: The Internet and Society - Pratice PT" resource.

Extended Learning

Students may find additional research help on their Global Impact of the Internet topic in the following chapters of "Blown to Bits."

Standards Alignment