HOT TOPIC: Online Projects 2006
Volume 3, Issue 4 - October 1, 2006

"Every year school starts and the buzz of online projects fills teacher mailing lists. Familiar ideas, new takes on old formats and original ideas flow as classrooms make the connection between the curriculum and the World Wide Web.

What makes online projects so electrifying? Well, for one thing, they are created by teachers for teachers. When an educator develops their own project to post online, their intent is to reach out to colleagues around the world to offer their students an enriching collaborative experience with like-minded students on a mission.

Secondly, online projects are curriculum-based. Regardless of how creative or offbeat the approach, the best online projects target content that is high-quality and addresses common themes across state standards. Online projects are not fluff, but substantive experiences that promote higher-level thinking.

Another unique quality of online projects is their endless potential for generating meaningful data that can be analyzed, broken down by patterns, sorted and categorized. This is an excellent context for real-world problem solving, as students make sense of information and create products and solutions that address the challenge presented at the outset of the project.

Most importantly, online projects allow students to develop relationships with peers from disparate geographic locations as they work together. Long after the project is over these relationships can leave a lasting impression on your class. One of my favorite memories as a classroom teacher was the culmination of an online project in which my class and a collaborating class met at Camden Yards to watch a ball game together. Finally meeting each other in person was an exciting, satisfying end to a memorable semester-long project!

In offering this week’s issue of the D12 newsletter, I wish for each of you the opportunity to find an online project that will electrify your classroom and bring learning to life for your students."

©2005 Walter McKenzie

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