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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


The Track Star

 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4.6 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 4.5 stars
Ease of Use: 4.3 starsstar
Reviewed: Feb 14, 2005 by Teacher Education
Overview: TrackStar is a web-based tool that provides non-technical teachers and students
with a simple way of anotating and sharing websites under a particular theme or
content area.
Learning Goals: This tool provides a mechanism in which teachers can develop thematic web-based
units in which students can view resources related to a particular content area.

Target Student Population: Educators can use this tool to organize and share internet-based thematic units.
They can also have students create tracks to demonstrate information literacy
skills.

Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Users only need to have simple web navigation skills to be successful with
TrackStar.
Type of Material: TrackStar is a true learning object that can be replicated over and over with
user-selected content.
Recommended Uses: Teachers can use this site in the development of thematic, web-based units in
which students can view a variety of websites that address similar content
issues. Track Star also includes a tool in which teachers can develop quizzes
to help students test themselves on knowledge gained from the sites and an
area in which students can create posters to help them synthesize the knowledge
gained from participating in a track.


Technical Requirements: Users of TrackStar only needs access to the World Wide Web.


Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: This is a well-designed site that provides teachers with a mechanism
for compiling and annotating web-based resources. Having additional tracks
available to view and use in instruction is a strength. An expert user can
bypass the details and go straight to work.
Concerns:

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: TrackStar can be used to develop online resources for students. Instructors
only need to know how to copy and paste a web link to be productive with this
tool. There is no need to worry about issues such as server space, FTP, HTML,
etc. TrackStar is also an great tool for students to make their own lists of
related web links. The program includes a link checking component which
provides users with an easy way to eliminate link rot.
Concerns: It has been our experience that faculty and students are initially confused by
the term "track" and what can be done. Some initially think that the purpose of
the tool is to somehow track how people use web pages. The authors have updated
the homepage to make the purpose clearer. As the tool becomes known this will
be less of a problem.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.3 stars
Strengths: This tool is intuitive. Teachers and students can read the directions
but most will be able to create a list without any directions.

Concerns: The site used to promote that it met Bobby accessibility guidelines. It is
unclear whether this is still a priority. TrackStar provides the ability to
search for a track but does not include a search feature for the site.

Other Issues and Comments: The site provides a search function so that a person can search other users?
lists. It is possible to create a quiz for a track. The authors also
provide access to a number of other online tools for educators through links at
the bottom of each page.