Friday, October 21, 2005

Quick As A Link

Hours of observation in WMS libraries and labs over the past few weeks have demonstrated an interesting truth about using the web for student research: It takes, on average, ten minutes for an entire class of middle school students to correctly type a web address into Netscape.

If the point here is to practice accurate page-to-screen transcription, then I suppose the time is worth it. But if the point of the exercise is to utilize the information on that web page, that's ten minutes of valuable research time lost.

The same happens with adults, of course. The often cryptic nature of web addresses leads to an especially high potential for typos or mispellings, which can confound what should be a painless process of "passing along" links to students and teaching peers alike.

Luckily, there are plenty of better ways...

For passing links to students, putting your links in a student network folder for easy click-and-go use is especially effective. To use this method:
  1. Log into the network with the username student and the password student.

  2. Set up a folder for your activity or lab. (Optional, but recommended.)

  3. Without closing the folder, open Netscape, and go to the page you want to send your students to.

  4. Finally, drag each link from the address bar to your new project folder.

Alternately, if you want students to associate links with a particular part of an activity, you can also add links directly to a word document stored on the student server. With this method, students can merely click the link at the correct time in the activity, and the page they need to reference will open right up!

Bonus hint: in both cases, when sending students to network folders, writing the sequence they'll need to follow to get there -- a series of heirarchical navigation cues also known as the network path -- on the board before class begins seems to be the fastest way to get all students to the right place effectively.

As always, of course, what works for students works for us. As we discussed last week, our new shared teacher network folders allow us to pass links to each other using either or both of the methods above.

In addition, you can also send links via our district webmail, or indeed any email system. To make emailed links clickable, make sure you include the entire web address, including the http:// at the beginning.

Got an idea for next week's tech tip? Let us know!


Blogger service4rock said...

What's up Mr. Farber.

7:32 PM  
Blogger service4rock said...

Sorry, forgot to metion its Jerrod from team 4 1,2,3 computers. See you on tuesday.
You're completely right. Using the word document that held all the links to the information was quick and easy. I myself would have spent another 5-10 minutes typing in the necessary web adresses for the information.

7:37 PM  

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