nicenet1.jpgNicenet is pleased to announce the public availability of the new Internet Classroom Assistant (ICA), a communication tool that brings World-Wide-Web based conferencing, personal messaging, document sharing, scheduling and link/resource sharing to a variety of learning environments. Nicenet incorporates many new features and responds to requests we have received from our users and it's free of charge.

Nicenet is a volunteer, non-profit organization dedicated to providing free services to the Internet community. Nicenet's primary offering, the Internet Classroom Assistant (ICA) is designed to address the pedagogical needs and limited resources of teachers and their students.

Nicenet Description
Impact on Teaching and Learning
Practical Applications
Examples or Demonstrations
External Links


1995, Nicenet was created as a student project at Macalester College in Saint Paul, MN by Nathan Dintenfass and Ben Archibald. Its first project was matching new Internet users with experienced Internet users in a mentor/mentee relationship. The first participants were members of an education listserv. They were hand-matched and introduced through Nicenet. The intent was to bring new users up to speed and to foster community among Internet users.
Shortly after, Nicenet inherited the Internet Classroom Assistant (ICA) from Patrick Muzila, who joined the Allaire Corporation (later acquired by Macromedia), a maker of Internet Development tools and long-time supporter of Nicenet.
In 1996, Nicenet rebuilt the ICA for use by classes at Macalester. Later, after securing donated server space, Nicenet opened up the ICA for public use for the first time.
In 1997, Macalester College agreed to become Nicenet's fiscal agent, giving the organization non-profit tax status.
In January, 1998, Nicenet released the ICA2, an updated and more reliable version of the original system.
In November, 1998, The Searle Center for Teaching Excellence at Northwestern University agreed to host the ICA.
In 2002 Nicenet moved to a dedicated server hosted at Hurricane Electric as part of the California Community Colocation Project.
In 2004, Nicenet completed its incorporation process and received 501(c)(3) non-profit status with the IRS.

Impact on Teaching and Learning

Nicenet was first conceived as a web-based classroom environment that could be used by post-secondary teachers with their students. The system was designed not as a replacement for the classroom, but rather as a supplement allowing greater communication and sharing of information among students and between teachers and their students. However, Nicenet does not restrict the use of the ICA for any purpose and our users have frequently found creative and unimagined uses for the ICA.
Here are the report about status of usage from Nicenet website:
  • In the last 10 minutes 36 users have used the ICA.
  • In the last 24 hours 8,913 users have signed on.
  • In the last week 38,355 users have signed on, and 5,068 classes have been used.
  • In the last month 73,369 users have signed on, and 9,473 classes have been used.
  • Since January, 1998 a total of 1,968,960 users have used the ICA.

Practical Applications

Nicenet is designed for post-secondary and secondary classrooms, distance learning and collaborative academic projects. The ICA was intentionally designed as a low graphics environment to decrease the load time of each page. The queries used to fill the site with class-specific data take less than a second. A fully dynamic site, the ICA is customized at two different levels:
  1. the use
  2. the class
Anyone can set up a class in minutes and allow others to join. After login, users are presented with a "heads-up" display of class resources.


  • Conferencing: Create your own private, threaded conferencing on topics you make for the class or opt to allow students to create their own topics.
  • Scheduling: Put the class schedule on-line. With a seven day advance view on your class homepage, students will have a heads-up display of upcoming assignments and class events.
  • Document sharing: Students and professors have the ability to publish their documents on the site using simple web-based forms. No knowledge of HTML is needed. Automatically integrated with scheduling, students are one click away from turning in their assignments on-line, giving their peers feedback on published papers and receiving professors comments.
  • Personal Messaging: Similar to traditional email but fully integrated with document sharing and conferencing, personal messaging is a great way communicate with and between individuals in your class, comment privately on conferencing postings or give private feedback on published papers.
  • Link Sharing: Share links to pertinent Internet resources sorted by topics that you create.

All features of the site are fully integrated - a user reading the class schedule is one click away from turning in an assignment on-line. While reading a document, a user can simply and easily send the author comments and feedback. Conferencing topics can be created for new schedule items and documents automatically.


This is the video demonstration about using Nicenet.


AllExperts. (2006). Nicenet at AllExperts. Retrieved Sep 13, 2009, from AllExperts:
Nicenet. (2009). Nicenet website. Retrieved Sep 13, 2009, from Nicenet homepage:

External Link

Nicenet website:


Lulu (Liu) Liu, Master student in Educational Technology Department at University of Hawaii at Manoa.
For more information, contact