“netTrekker Search is the leading educational search tool for schools”, according to their website (Knovation, 2012). netTrekker is a customizable search engine that combines a dictionary, differentiated learning tools, online book marking, and media enhanced tools to keep students interested and engaged (as well as other plug-ins as needed with additional software).
The immediate benefit of this search engine is that it is customizable to the user. In a K-12 environment I think this is a benefit because the user may easily become overwhelmed and discouraged with the information generated from open searches the internet. Along with the customizable searching you can “refine results by academic or reading level, subject, language, format or student or teacher recommendations” (Knovation, 2012). This benefit can help keep students on track and enable them to find information in a more efficient manner.
Another benefit is the ability to engage students the way they like to learn with videos, simulations, learning games, and more. This will promote learning from all students with varying learning levels and abilities. The differentiated learning potential is increased with this diverse software and netTrekker can be joined with various enterprise systems such as: Assessment Data Integrations like Global Scholar® / Scantron® Performance Series™ and Achievement Series™; Learning Management Systems and Curriculum Management Systems like Blackboard® Learn 9.1; and More Technology Integrations like Follett® One Search.
However, a couple of doubts arise when I consider purchasing this emerging technology for a district. Among these are two main thoughts: the cost for a site license may be too high, and the complexity of the application seems all too simple. When I talked to a representative it seemed reasonable for a small high school; for 500 students 1 year would cost $1,999 for a site license. But when I inquired about the addition of about 300 more students (for example adding a middle school) the cost moved to $3,200. So for about 800 students it would cost $3,200 and in some districts that is a large high school. Hypothetically, if my overall district budget was an issue this purchase might be costly for the continuity of all schools if we couldn’t afford all of the necessary licenses.
“NetTrekker doesn’t provide links to Web sites that you or your child couldn’t eventually find on your own…” and in the end the students should learn how to evaluate information on their own (Breen, 2008). I hold the expectation of high school students to be able to refine search results, use Web 2.0 tools that allow them to create online bookmarks, and keep them engaged and interested with media enriched applications, but I feel this software might hinder that.
In conclusion I would explore the possibility of sampling the netTrekker software in one school to cut costs and see just how effective it is with the differentiated learning tools, online book marking, media enhanced tools, and integration it offers.
Breen’s review in Macworld states the following about netTrekker for the home:
In the process of [researching, i.e.] finding…sites, you’d likely waste a lot of time and take several wrong (and possibly inappropriate) turns. If your child spends many hours on the Internet researching his or her homework, a yearly subscription to NetTrekker will prove to be an affordable, efficient, and trustworthy aid. (Breen, 2008)
Breen, Christopher. (2008, August 5). Thinkronize NetTrekker. Retrieved from http://www.macworld.com/article/1134787/nettrekker.html
E. Robbins, personal communication, January 4, 2001.
Knovation, Inc. (2012). netTrekker Search. Retrieved from http://www.macworld.com/article/1134787/nettrekker.html
M. Cornett, personal communication, August 1, 2012.