Global Schoolhouse Home Home Base: Harnessing the Power of the WebIntro to NetPBL: Collaborative Project-Based LearningBuilding Collaborative Student Web ProjectsGuide to Conducting Research on the InternetLibrary of References, Readings and ResourcesTable of Contents
Building a
Collaborative
Web Project
Define
Building teams
Protect your
students
Communication
strategy
Effective
Web projects
Web project
examples
Brainstorming
Development
strategy
Summary
Further reading
Design
Deliver
1. Define audience and purpose
2. Teach something "new"
3. Cite sources
4. Encourage feedback
5. Include reflection pages
6. Balance content with presentation
7. Make it current
8. Keep it simple and accessible
Communications: The Real Power of the Web
A Visit to Hillside School

2. Teach or Report on Something "New"

The poorest content for Web pages is "traditional" research reports which simply regurgitate information from traditional text sources or other Internet or Web sites. Few visitors to your Web site will be interested in or impressed with such textbook presentations.

When we visit a Web site, we expect to learn something new. We anticipate discovering new information, or old information presented in new lights, with new insights. We enjoy hearing about the first-hand experiences students have had interacting with their world. We like to see their own art work, snapshots, and images of original documents and resources that they have scanned in themselves. We like to read about excursions to museums, historical sites, and cultural and artistic events.

Digitized images and recordings of your original or historical photographs, old newspapers, folk tales and stories, first-hand biographies and oral histories, and other primary source material that you publish will not only be intrinsically interesting to your audience, but much of it may make important contributions to your community or even your discipline.

In order to build a Web project that "teaches something new" students must actively explore, observe, record, predict, build models, analyze, solve problems, discuss, and report and share their findings and new understandings.

To do these things, they must have hands-on accessibility to local resources they can visit, interview, record, photograph, observe, manipulate, and interact with in a variety of other ways.

Everybody can do projects that utilize commonly available resources. For instance, you can find over-abundant resources on the Web regarding earthquakes. However, students who live in areas affected by earthquakes should take advantage of their unique location and report on local resources. Your Web report will be much more interesting and useful to students and adults around the world when you obtain and report first-hand accounts of earthquake experiences, local newspaper reports and video recordings of earthquake action and damage.

Best Topics: Local Resources
Therefore, the best projects exploit resources that are unique to your local region or that can give your students hands-on experience.

Some Examples

  • A second grade classroom finds out about the people their neighborhood streets are named for and does a multimedia Web report with digitized drawings and stories about their "famous" people.
     
  • A fifth grade classroom visits the local community historical society, interviews local amateur historians, collects and digitizes copies of local newspaper clippings and period photographs, and creates a Web report on local events during the period of the state's entry into the Union.
      
  • A seventh grade classroom interviews members of an immigrant group that is prominent in their area. They collect folk tales, record and digitize examples of music, create a QuickTime movie of a traditional dance. They compile personal histories of the immigrant experience, along with recollections of the ancestral home. They create a Web exhibit to share what they have produced.
     
  • An eighth grade class corresponds with their local and state legislators, Congressional Representative, and Senators. They make arrangements to visit their offices for a personal interview. They compile voting statistics and create "Baseball card" profiles for each. Then they present their findings on a multimedia Web page.
     
  • A tenth grade biology class visits the neighborhood estuary through the entire school year, taking water samples, observing signs of wild life. They interview local and state officials that have various responsibilities for the estuary. They do a Web exhibit on their estuary, with their recommendations for conservation, preservation, or restoration.
     
  • Several high school classes contact community service organizations, such as social services, colleges, government offices, tourist bureaus, Chamber of Commerce, and service clubs such as the Kiwanas and Optimists. They create a home page for their community that features community services.

In each of these examples, students can actually find and present "new" information that is not (readily) available elsewhere. By sharing this information, they can not only present information and conclusions that will engage their readers, but will be making a legitimate contribution to the their local community and beyond by sharing this information.

Using and sharing these kinds of resources with the community will help your students take a major step on the journey From Surfing to Serving.

You'll see examples of these principles in the Example Model Projects in the next section.

The  Global Schoolhouse™ CyberFair Project Web project starter activities also gives you ideas and suggestions for finding the rich variety of connections available in your local community.

Page 1: Define audience and purpose
Page 2: Teach something "new"
Page 3: Cite information sources
Page 4: Encourage feedback
Page 5: Include reflection pages
Page 6: Balance content & presentation
Page 7: Make it current
Page 8: Keep it simple and accessible

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