Technology Update: A Host of Challenging Web Sites Combine Surfing With Learning
A Host of Challenging Web Sites
Most classroom uses of computers have been evolving in one of two
directions: either onto the World Wide Web or into CD-ROMs.
Expect the next round of educational applications to converge--in hybrid forms that draw on the strengths of both technologies. One early and striking example is MathSoft Inc.'s StudyWorks--with one version for science, the other for mathematics.
A StudyWorks CD-ROM, for Windows with a Macintosh version due in December, provides a sophisticated mathematics processor. Students can generate equations with a tool resembling a scientific calculator, edit them, apply different data to their formulas, and reposition them on worksheets.
The CD-ROM also holds a library of hundreds of formulas, tables, and facts in the high school and college curricula. Students can paste these formulas and graphs onto electronic worksheets for use in specific problems. An embedded word processor can turn the worksheets into polished reports.
To those functions the product--priced at $39.95--adds a Web browser that takes students directly to a site maintained by Cambridge, Mass.-based MathSoft.
Math and science resources, including student-stumping puzzles, are added to the site monthly and can be downloaded into worksheets. Students can start Web discussion groups to ponder math and science topics and share projects with students from around the world.
The Web site, which can be viewed although not be fully utilized without StudyWorks, is at http://www.mathsoft.com/studyworks.
Product Keyed to National Curriculum Standards
Among the many Web applications now offering "live" educational experiences is one by the venerable Computer Curriculum Corp., long known as a leader in integrated learning systems.
Now owned by Viacom Corp., the 30-year-old Sunnyvale, Calif., company wants to relieve the chaos teachers often find on the Internet and take advantage of the publishing and collaborative assets of the mammoth computer network's World Wide Web.
CCCnet, the company's main Web product, offers subscribers thematic units that are keyed to national curriculum standards. A unit called "i-Press", for example, allows middle school English classes to publish their own Web newspapers.
The newest thematic unit, "Invented in China?," joins the trend of sending people to exotic places and having them communicate with students via the Web. Seven writers, photographers, and artists with "new media" expertise are on a monthlong trip to explore the cultural and historical context of the many inventions that originated in China.
Students will receive daily dispatches from the team and talk back over the Internet three times a week. Beginning in January, access to CCCnet--currently free--will cost $65 a year for an individual teacher, with discounts for groups of teachers.
The Web site is at http://www.cccnet.com.
Contests Flourish on the Web
Contests--an educational tool with possibly the greatest potential for tying up telephone lines and robbing children of sleep--are flourishing on the Web.
This week, Yahooligans! and the Software Publishers Association are scheduled to launch CyberSurfari '96, a worldwide scavenger hunt designed to teach good Web-searching skills.
Contestants will search for special codes that will be hidden in 100 "intriguing" Web sites worldwide. A sample clue: Go to the Oriental Institute's site and find the time period for the mummy mask in the museum's Egyptian collection.
Top finishers in three divisions, including one for teacher-supervised school teams, will win prizes of up to $5,000. Other winners will be selected by a lottery weighted by the contestants' speed and accuracy.
The Web address is http://www.spa.org/cybersurfari.
--ANDREW TROTTER [email protected]