B. Finding Projects, Partners & Collaborative Tools
1. Project Types
A networked project typically involves students in distant locations collaborating to conduct research, exchange information, and learn from one another. The distant partners may also include explorers, scientists, community leaders and other experts.
Communication media in networked projects typically include email, blogs, listservs, forms on Web sites, chat, or videoconferencing. Participating classes usually organize their research findings and report their results directly to their partner sites using these basic communication technologies.
More ambitious networked projects may have students designing and developing Web sites to showcase their research and learning. Guidelines for developing educational Web projects are discussed in the next section -- Making Projects.
Judi Harris' has developed a very detailed classification in her Network-Based Educational Activity Structures.
However, three of the most popular project types are (a) general information exchanges, (b) field trip projects, and (c) travel buddy projects.
Information Exchange projects ask students to investigate research questions, contribute stories, poetry, experiences, thoughts, or other writing. Teachers guide their students as they gather information; perform research, and report results.
Students learn to appreciate each other's cultures, contributions, and customs. Sometimes students help experts with important research by reporting scientific phenomena in their area. Information exchanges prompt students to contribute to world-wide research. They learn that their contributions are valued, necessary, and utilized. Examples of long running classic "information exchange" projects include:
Field Trip Projects
Thanks to the Internet you can have incredible adventures in exotic locales without spending a dime or leaving the room. Whether explorers travel the Silk Road of China or climb Mt. Everest, learning becomes an unforgettable adventure as students join thrilling, real-time expeditions to remote and fascinating locations. In a field trip project, a person or group of people travel to a place or participate in an exciting event and communicate their experiences through written reports posted to a Web site, via email, videoconferencing, and/or multimedia. Students become virtual traveling companions asking questions and providing suggestions for travel routes. Travelers perform research and enlighten students about what they learn and the resources they encounter. Virtual field trips allow students to learn about places, people, and events they cannot experience first hand. Examples of fieldtrip projects include:
Travel Buddy Projects
Travel Buddy projects are a fun and motivating way to increase science, math, social studies or literacy skills in primary students. Typically, "traveling buddies" are inanimate objects, such as stuffed animals, that are mailed to partner schools. The students at the receiving school will take photos of the buddy and write about the buddy's experiences, while the buddy is visiting with them.
Examples of travel buddy projects include: