The benefits of publishing student work on the Internet--or anywhere for that matter--is well documented in numerous studies by educators. The prevailing theory among teachers regarding the publishing of their students' work is that if students know that their written work will be published, thus expanding their audience, they will view their work as having a purpose and, as a consequence, be motivated toward excellence (Willet-Smith, 1993). Innovations such as Virginia's Public Education Network (VA PEN), Birth of the USA, Community of Learners, Vocal Point, Madison Metropolitan School District and the science projects of Louis Nadelson's students are a few examples of Internet sites where students publish their work on the World Wide Web.
Jefferson On-line is a program where Virginia's Public Education Network (VA PEN) staff employees posing as Thomas Jefferson answer electronic letters (email) written by school children on a variety of topics concerning the life and times of Thomas Jefferson. The purpose of VA PEN is to involve Virginia students and teachers of public K-12 education in the use of the Internet. It is intended to be used by teachers and students for the purposes of communication, the sharing of ideas and techniques as well as collaboration of projects. Jefferson On-line is intended for elementary aged students who attend Virginia's public schools. The letters can be read by anyone who accesses the gopher address above.
Another VA PEN school, Virginia L. Murray Elementary School, publishes student work. Dr. Prudhomme's fifth grade social studies class published a collection of student research reports in a book called Birth of the USA. Dr. Prudhomme used the VA PEN as a tool to support the writing process through publishing the work of his classes. His Web site was intended to be viewed on the Internet by educators and students across the county to give students a wider audience for their work and to inspire others to integrate technology in the classroom.
At the Washington State University College of Education, preservice teachers who studied at the University published a collection of their work in order to contribute teaching techniques to other teachers, parents and students, and to gain feedback in a project called A Community of Learners. The project can be viewed at http://www.educ.wsu.edu/tl/450/450indexframes.html. A Community of Learners was intended to be a showcase for work done by education students at the Washington State University. Their goal was to publish their work to gain feedback from other educators across the country regarding their work and to serve as a model for other preservice teachers.
Vocal Point: A Collaborative, Student Run Online Newspaper was begun in 1994 at the Centennial Middle School in Boulder, Colorado. It has grown into a collaborative work by middle and high school journalism students from around the country and is published online on a monthly basis. Reinforcing the learning process, students who participated in the program prepared training guides to instruct incoming students.
The Madison Metropolitan School District is a wide area network devoted to integrating technology into the classroom and the curriculum. One of the Web sites on this network is devoted to the publishing of middle school student projects. Its purpose is to give students a wide audience of their peers and their community as well as to serve as a model for other schools. These projects can be viewed at http://danenet.wicip.org/mmsd-it/studentexhibit.html.
Louis Nadelson, a science teacher at Capital High School in Olympia, Washington, assigned laboratory research projects which students were required to publish on the World Wide Web. Students researched the assigned topic, carried out the laboratory experiment and published their reports as html documents which were transferred to the classroom's server.The purpose of this Web site was to give Capital High School science students an audience for their science projects which Nadelson claimed gave the students a sense of purpose in their writing since their work was viewed on the Internet by students and teachers across the county and around the globe. It was also intended to serve as a model for science teachers to incorporate technology into their classrooms.