Monday, May 5, 2008

Making it Work

I wanted to create a project folder to showcase in Palm Beach, FL for a recent training. I love project based learning, giving students the rubrics up front, and organizing projects in order to keep everyone on task. Since it was time to celebrate Earth Day (which should be celebrated every day), I decided to have students do a project on recycling.
I used netTrekker d.i. to gather my resources. First I created a folder about recycling. Then, I put images in one folder and websites in another (a folder within a folder structure). Then, using the new Template that is offered in My Portfolio by netTrekker d.i., I added the directions. I love the user-defined template! I added the title, gave the intro to the project in the description spot, and in the body I added the task/directions, the evaluation, and the conclusion. That's right, it's somewhat based on a WebQuest.
Now I ran into a problem when it came to posting the rubric. I wanted to use my favorite rubric builder - However, it produces either an HTML document you must host somewhere or an Excel File. I cannot upload documents into netTrekker d.i.'s My Portfolio, so what's a teacher to do? I used Zoho. I uploaded the Excel file into my Zoho account, made it a public URL and then added this external link to My Porfolio. I'm not printing out my rubric only for it to be trashed or lost or made into an airplane and my students still have access to it.
The other thing I wanted to do was have my students watch a video from BrainPop. I have an account from BrainPop, so I added the direct link to the videos I wanted them to watch and in the description I reminded them of the username/password. It was nice that everything is right there for them to view and I'm not sending them off into many directions.
The final project itself was a multimedia "commercial" sharing a simple way to help save the Earth and why you should carry out this simple step. Students could use one of the great multimedia tools from Tech4Learning, PhotoStory, or MovieMaker or other multimedia program of their choice. They used netTrekker d.i. to find images, articles, and other sites of interest to help with the background information needed for the project. Students also wrote a blog entry with their own take on the project.
Now I need to share that information with my students. One way is to bookmark the folder and place it into the school or district folder in netTrekker d.i. But I work with a few schools that are huge and they wanted another way of sharing that folder. We (participants in a meeting) brainstormed a few ideas and one SMART man gave the perfect option.
If you use a Learning Management System (LMS) or Course/Content Management System (CMS) such as eChalk, BlackBoard, Learning Village, Moodle or other program, you can right click on the folder and copy the shortcut and paste it into that location. First, I need to click on EDIT, ADVANCED OPTIONS, and make sure my students have the right to view that folder. Then I right click on the folder, copy shortcut, and paste.

So here's my link to that recycling project:

Let me guess, you tried to click on that link and it won't let you in? That's right. You can only view folders that belong to the account you are registered to. So if your district has an account, even though you are registered to a school, you'll be able to see folders within your district. Your work is protected! If you are IP Authenticated, it takes you straight to the folder. If you have to log in, once you log in it will take you directly to that folder.

With budget crunches and time savers desperately needed, it's nice to see how products work together. It's always been my firm belief that if products play nicely together, then those are the ones I should invest in. Knowing that netTrekker d.i. works with my LMS/CMS, other web tools, and keeps my students safe- well, I'd be more likely to invest.

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