Academic Research Tool Helps Greenwood Schools Trek the 'Net
Like many school districts nationwide, Greenwood Community Schools in Indiana was faced with the task of integrating technology into its curricula. The district needed to find technology resources that educators and students would actually use. J'e Huber, assistant director of technology for the district and an Internet enthusiast, began searching for online tools that could help the district achieve these goals. In his search he found netTrekker, an online academic research engine that helps students and teachers take full advantage of the Internet.
Standards-Based Online Resources
Indiana educators are required by law to coordinate local curricula with state and national standards. netTrekker provides access to Indiana standards and benchmarks, then finds online resources that correlate to the material presented. For instance, educators can use the search engine to find the standards for their grade level, drill down to the "Benchmark/ Outcomes" level of that standard, and then find online resources, such as lesson plans, learning exercises and Web sites that support the material in that benchmark. These resources can then be used in the classroom. Educators can also use netTrekker to document the standard and benchmark they are teaching to meet their accountability goals. "netTrekker has saved teachers countless hours and untold frustration of searching the Internet for sites that apply to the K-12 curricula and are aligned with Indiana State Standards," says Huber. "Instead of standards being another obstacle for educators, netTrekker makes the integration of standards more manageable."
Safe Internet Searching
Educators at Greenwood Schools have used netTrekker for more than a year, and have found it to be a safe and effective academic research tool. Because it only contains Web sites that have been approved by teachers for academic integrity, and are organized around the K-12 curricula, students can safely search the Internet for school projects and get quality, relevant results. For example, a Greenwood student assigned a report on Jupiter's Red Spots can use netTrekker to search through the science taxonomy to the "Jupiter's Red Spots" topic area. Within a matter of seconds, netTrekker returns 12 search results, all directly related to Jupiter's Red Spots in an academic context. Instead of getting hundreds of search results using other search engines, the student is able to find only relevant, teacher-approved Web sites.
Greenwood Schools have also enjoyed success with netTrekker because it is an easy to use technological tool. Its user-friendly design and simple searching capabilities make it an effective academic research tool for users at all levels. netTrekker has helped Huber achieve his goal of providing technological tools to Greenwood educators and students that are used on a daily basis. As a result, Greenwood teachers and students have saved valuable time. "The best endorsement for netTrekker has come from overhearing students tell one another not to bother using other search engines, because netTrekker saves you a lot of time," says Huber. "In addition, many parents have commented about how much they like netTrekker, because they don't have to worry about their children finding inappropriate material while searching the Internet."
This article originally appeared in the 06/01/2002 issue of THE Journal.