With countless millions
of web pages, files, and programs on the Internet today, there are certainly
some priceless gems to be found.
However, there is more than a fair share of rhinestones
mixed in, that is flashy web pages that look great until you actually read
their content to find out that they really offer very little useful information.
Beyond that, there are just as many plain old
rocks, resources that are as common as gravel and just about
So how can you tell if a
technology resource is worthy to be called a "treasure" and added to our
collection? While there is no definitive test, there are certainly
some guidelines to consider when examining your finds under the microscope.
||Is it aligned to
This HAS to be the
first question you ask yourself. Not "How cool is the site?"
Not "How well written is this lesson?" Not "How much will my kids
like this project?"
Bottom Line: If the
resource doesn't help your students meet an objective in your course of
study, is it really worth spending precious time on?
The question is "Does this
resource help my students learn the information that the course of study
says they are supposed to learn from me this year?"
Sure, there are a lot of
great technology resources out there, but that doesn't mean you can actually
use all of them. The problem develops when we come across something
exciting and then try to figure out how to fit it into our curriculum.
Many times when we do that we can end up spending time in class that does
not address what the students are really supposed to be learning.
Instead of truly integrating technology into our curriculum, we take a
detour from the lesson to "have some fun" with the computers. It
shouldn't be this way.
curriculum needs to drive the technology use. The beauty
of the Treasure Chest is you can't add a resource without tying it to an indicator
in the Ohio Academic Content Standards. We need to pick resources that
directly support what our kids are supposed to learn.
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||Is it attractive?
Web pages are different than
any other form of media, and they should take advantage of that.
There is no excuse for a web page to be simply black text on a white background.
On the other hand, whatever design elements are used should not be distracting,
but contribute to the content and purpose of the site. Here is a
list of some good features that can enhance tech resources when used properly:
Bottom Line: The look
of a technology resource should inspire the user to learn and return.
and links that are easy to navigate and understand
loading of the page
Page doesn't scroll off the
side of the screen
Good use of flash,
shockwave, or java
Font is a good size and style
to be read easily
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||Is it informative?
Of course it is not enough
for a resource to simply look attractive. It must also provide useful
information that is appropriate to the level and need of the user.
Here are some good points to look for in any technology resource:
Bottom Line: A tech
resource needs to connect the user with useful, relevant information.
The information is clear
The information is appropriate
to the age and interest of the intended audience
The information has not
The information appears accurate
The information is not
biased (or is easily identified as being biased)
Links are included to relevant
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||Does it do something
better than could be done without technology?
Let's face it, technology
costs money. Computers, software, training time, network wiring,
and repairs all consume resources. To be justified, technology needs
to earn its keep. It needs to offer something that can not be found
otherwise. What can a technology resource offer that is "better"
than a book, a handout, physical manipulatives, and such?
Bottom Line: If you
can do the same thing, with the same quality results, without a particular
technology resource ... then that resource is not so valuable.
Access to MORE information
than would otherwise be available
Technology can increase
the quantity of information.
Our text books only have so many pages. Our libraries only contain
so many books. The Internet is the closest thing to infinite we have.
Web pages, lesson plans, databases, and more can offer exhaustive information
on subjects that just can be found anywhere else.
Access to BETTER information
than would otherwise be available
Technology can also increase
the quality of information. One
way it does this is by providing the most up-to-date data on populations,
scientific finds, and current issues that our static textbooks will not
include for years to come. Quality can also increase through the
multimedia available in technology. Web pages can provide large full-color
photos, video, animations, sound, music, virtual representations, and more
that won't be found on a photocopied handout.
Access to COLLABORATION
Something else that technology
resources can do is provide a way for students to interact
with people they normally would not be able to contact easily. Using
the internet students can find penpals (or rather "keypals") all over the
world, and then use email to discuss their cultures. Web-based projects
can allow students from all over to work on a problem, combining their
data and ideas to arrive at a better solution. Through the web, questions
can be asked of experts from all fields, and their adventures and experiences
can be shared with children.
Providing quicker FEEDBACK
In a classroom there is
only one of you ... and about 25 of them. Even at our best, we don't
have the time to give our students the quick and
consistent evaluations that would help them to monitor their
progress more. Although not a replacement for the detailed comments
we give our pupils, technology can supplement through software, shockwave
games, and interactive java applets that immediately tell the user
if they missed the problem and offer reteaching to get them on the right
track, right away.
Technology can be fun!
The fact that video games, special effects, and music videos permeate our
society, shows that many people get excited about the electronic revolution.
That same enthusiasm can translate into greater student interest in technology
infused lessons and activities. Be careful though, this principle
works both ways. There are also people who don't care much for turning
on a computer and could be turned off by the project.
Providing more CONVENIENT
access to information
Convenience can take on
many forms. Maybe it means that you get information faster
than having to wait for a book to be returned or a letter to arrive.
Maybe it means the information is consolidated
in one place, coming through one computer screen, rather than having to
travel to several libraries. Maybe it even can mean cheaper
access to information. Sure computers cost money, but so do photocopies
to be made, gas for travel, long-distance phone bills, and other forms
of traditional information gathering.
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