What does the Portal Maker do?
The Portal Maker allows you to create a 'web portal'.
This is a gateway or 'index page' with links to digital resources, activities and information that you select for your students.
Your finished portal can be:
- placed on the school's network for students to access
- linked to the school's intranet site
- linked to the school's internet site (allowing sudents to access resources from home)
- included on a blog or other internet site
This example shows how a portal page can link the resources for a particular student project:
Why make a Portal?
Learning opportunities exist beyond textbooks and worksheets. Students need to obtain information from the Internet, access video and audio and try interactive tasks.
Have you collected or created resources like these?
- Word documents (worksheets, assignments, rubrics, notes)
- Powerpoint presentations
- Links to useful websites
- Language games
- Interactive tasks
- Voice recordings
- Video clips
- Digital photos
- Web quests
A portal is a convenient way for you to organise these resources and for your students to access them at school or at home. Your portal page can become part of your school's internet site, or your own blog. It can be added to the school intranet, or placed in a public folder on the school's computer network, for your students to access even when they are working offline.
Your portal can link to resources you have checked and compiled earlier so that your students don't waste time wading through unhelpful websites.
Students often lose their hard copies of handouts, or they forget to bring them home. You can make these documents available on your portal page so students can access the most up-to-date version of them anytime or anywhere.
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Using the Portal Maker
The Portal Maker is easy to use. You do not need knowledge of html code or web design. You simply work through the Portal Maker step by step. The Portal Maker allows you to group resources in 'lists'. You can include up to six 'lists' on each portal page. This lets you group your resources, by topic or by year level for example.
You type in a name for your portal, give the lists a title and then add resources by navigating to and selecting each resource you wish to link to.
Types of resources you can include in a portal page
The Portal Maker allows you to link to existing resources such as:
- Files - you can include a link to any computer files, such as a Word document, PDF, PowerPoint or media files such as a video clip or sound file.
- Games - You can include links to any game created with a Languages Online Game Maker
- A link to an internet site - In the Portal Maker you can navigate to a web page and then add a link to that page.
You can also use the Portal Maker to create new resources. You can:
- Create a new webpage with your own text, pictures and voice recordings. The Portal Maker includes an easy-to-use web page editor that is similar in use to a word processor.
- Create a new voice recording to include in your portal page with the built-in sound recorder (you'll need a microphone too!)
When you have finished and saved your portal page a webpage will be created that includes links to all the resources you selected. The Portal Maker also gathers those resources and copies them into the same folder as your portal page. This means you easily move your portal page and all the resources by copying and pasting a single folder. Your portal can be viewed on any computer.
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Ideas for Portals
The Portal Maker can be used in many ways. Here are some suggestions:
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- A general resource index page for your classes
Make a list for each year level, and link to useful material on a range of topics that will be studied that year. Link to online dictionaries, assignment sheets and other resources that are regularly used.
- A bank of games created with Languages Online Game Makers
If you, or your students, have created a number of different games, you can make a portal page to link all the games together by topic or class. This is a great way to organise these files into one folder for easy access and management.
- Create a page dedicated to a unit of work
All the relevant resources are just a click away. You can include a unit outline, worksheets to print out, documents and captured web pages as reading material, vocabulary lists, PowerPoint presentations, games to practise new language, images and video clips, recordings of oral texts to listen to, links to useful websites, assignment sheets and assessment rubrics.
- A web quest
Students explore complex topics via information on the Web. They are given questions to answer, or must create a final product. To do this, they need to locate, read, analyse and synthesise information from a variety of sites, with tips and pointers along the way. With the Portal Maker you can make a page where students work through a sequence of instructions, questions and web pages in order to complete the task, You can capture web pages in the target language and edit them to simplify the text if necessary.
- A listening task
Your students can practise their aural skills at home, with tasks that you have tailored to their level and interests. Use the Portal Maker to make a web page, and insert pre-recorded video/audio files or record spoken texts on the spot. You can then add a vocabulary list and comprehension questions.
- A multimedia task
You can link to video clips, podcasts, images and web pages from your portal page, and include a document with questions or tasks that students complete based on the stimulus material.
- Class collaboration / showcase portal
You can create a portal page and save it in a folder that your students can access. Your students can use the Portal Maker to load the page you have made, and add their own files or resources. The portal page can thus become a showcase of your students' work, or a space where students can share links to useful websites they have found on a particular topic.
- A digital portfolio
Students (individually or in groups) can use the Portal Maker to create their own digital portfolios as evidence of learning. They could include written assignments, games they create, voice recordings, web pages they have made and links to relevant websites. They can add reflections and evaluations of their learning journey.
- Faculty / cluster collaboration portal
Make a resource portal that your fellow teachers can access. They can load the page into their own Portal Makers and add their own resources, materials and lesson plans to the pool.
Viewing, copying or linking to your portal page
Once complete, your portal page and all its associated resources will be stored in a single folder with the same name as your portal page. It will look like this:
NOTE: If you move, rename or delete any of these folders you portal page may no longer work. See the notes below on modifying your portal page for more information about this.
To link your portal to an existing website, copy (or upload) the portal folder to the web server and add a link to the portal page in an existing web page.
To copy your Portal page, copy the portal folder, and then paste in a new location.
Modifying or changing a portal page
Select the 'Modify existing page' option at the beginning of the Portal Maker and navigate to the portal page you want to change. The contents of that portal page will then load into the Portal Maker. You can now:
- change the name of your page or the name of any resources
- add or delete a list, change the order of the lists
- add or delete a resource, change the order of the resources
NOTE! If you want to change the contents of a file included in your portal page, you can open the file, make the change and then save it again. For example, if you want to modify a Word document included in your portal, just open it from the 'list' folder, make the change and save it again. So long as the file name and location are not changed, the Portal Maker will open the updated file from then on.
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Installation and operation
To install and run the Portal Maker the computer must have the following:
Installation in schools
- Windows 2000, XP or Vista (all require '.net framework 2.0'. This is standard on 'Vista', and common on the other operating systems. If it is not installed on the computer, a prompt will appear allowing the download and installation of the file. It is free.)
- a sound card
- screen resolution of at least 800 x 600
- 256 colours or greater
Installation of software in school systems is often restricted. This may mean that only your IT technician is able to install software. Talk to you IT support about how the software is best installed in your school.
When completed a new folder will be created in the location specified by the user. That folder will have the name given to the portal page. The folder will contain:
- The portal page - this webpage will have same name as the protl folder
- An 'images' folder containing the background images used in the portal page
- A 'CSS' folder containing the styles sheets used in the portal page
- There will also be a separate folder for each list included on the portal page. All files associated with that list are stored in this folder.
Some schools' IT systems prevent students from saving these files. Check with your IT support that students are permited to save these files in their folders on the server. If not, it may be possible to create a new folder without these restrictions where students can save their games.
The default save path for completed games is the users 'My Document' folder. Voice recordings are temporarily saved in the users 'temp' folder. To change these default save paths see the Technical Notes page
- Accented letters can now easily be added by opening the 'Accented Letter' panel and clicking on the letter you want
- When adding a sound file to a new web page it will be 'embedded' in the finished page, and not open in a media player
- The save step has been improved allowing easier change of file name and save location
- Improved performance to stop errors occuring on some operating systems.
- Ampersand '&' can now be included in list names
- Languages On,ine games that include dots in file names can now be used
Further Information and help
Each step of the Portal Maker has a detailed 'Help' page. Click on the 'Help' button in the top right hand corner to view the page.
For futher assistance contact the Languages Online Team ()
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Contact: Languages Online Team ()
Created on: Wednesday, July 19th, 2006 | Page last updated: Monday, 1st December 2008