K-12 Search Engine Enriches the Teaching and Learning Process of Memphis City Schools
Allowing students direct access to the Internet for school projects can equal disaster. Not only will they probably not stay on task, they may also access inappropriate content such as pornography. For teachers, finding enough time in their day to search for Web sites that are relevant and appropriate for education is a real issue. Add the task of finding online resources that support their state's academic standards and the feat seems nearly impossible.
Memphis City Schools in Tennessee is the 21st largest school system in the nation with more than 118,000 students in 185 schools. The district recently began searching for an affordable tool that would help make the Internet a more effective resource for its teachers and students. Diane Raley, instructional technology coordinator for Memphis City Schools, first saw a demonstration of netTrekker last year and was impressed with the quality of its 180,000 educator-selected Web sites. She was also impressed that netTrekker provided a search engine specifically designed for school use.
Noticing how simple netTrekker was to use and that the product also aligned Web resources to Tennessee's curriculum standards, Raley knew this was a technology tool that would enhance teaching and learning for all of the district's teachers and students. Not only d'es netTrekker help alleviate the problem of Internet safety and student use, but it also serves as a valuable resource that enables teachers to integrate technology and the state's curriculum standards into their daily curricula.
Net Safety, Student Use
Memphis City Schools has been using netTrekker since last year. The district has found it to be a safe and effective tool for their students to use with research projects. Because netTrekker contains only educator-selected Web sites that are organized around K-12 curricula, students can quickly and easily go directly to relevant, reliable information every time they use the Internet.
For example, a language arts teacher assigns a student a report on "inference." Using a regular Internet search engine, students receive more than a million search results that they have to sift through to find the information relevant to their English report. Conducting the same search in netTrekker, the students receive 44 targeted results that relate to inference in the context of language arts. If students also need a bibliography, citation, picture or video for their reports, they can further refine their search to deliver only those Web sites with these particular items. Using netTrekker, students stay on task and spend more time learning instead of searching.
Making State Standards Manageable for Teachers
Tennessee educators are required to coordinate local curricula with state and national standards. According to Raley: "In the past, our teachers have searched the Internet for materials related to a particular curriculum standard or benchmark, and the process has taken hours, sometimes even days. But using netTrekker, this process takes only a few minutes."
netTrekker provides access to Tennessee standards and benchmarks, as well as supporting online resources. For example, using netTrekker, the district's educators can access the standards for their grade level and then find online resources such as lesson plans, learning exercises and Web sites that support the material in a particular benchmark or outcome. These resources can be used in the classroom, and teachers can easily document the standard and benchmark they're teaching to meet their accountability goals. "netTrekker has saved our teachers countless hours and untold frustration of searching the Internet for sites that apply to the K-12 curricula and are aligned with the Tennessee standards," says Raley.
Delivering the Internet's power to the classroom has enriched the school system's teaching and learning process. Providing teachers and students access to netTrekker's educationally relevant resources has also increased productivity. Instead of wasting class and preparation time searching for information, netTrekker delivers academically appropriate resources in an easy-to-use format. Most important, netTrekker has produced excellent usage statistics in a short period of time, says Raley. "netTrekker has helped all our teachers and students succeed with technology."
This article originally appeared in the 05/01/2004 issue of THE Journal.