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The Online Trainer Site: Capturing Content from the Web

About This Classroom Special  
The Online Trainer Site
is designed to be used by a staff member or group of staff members who are responsible for training others and want to do some or all of it online.
The Online Trainer Site is maintained by Buzz Eyler, Director of Educational Technology at the Orcutt School District (CA) and a Teachers Network web mentor.  E-mail Buzz.

Capturing Content from the Web

Since this is series of articles about presenting content on-line, it is only fitting to learn how to us online materials in your training. There are a number of ways to accomplish this. You can provide your students with a series of printed bookmarks that they then type into the address box. You could provide to each one a bookmark file that they can load into their own computer. Or you can capture the pages you want them to view and make a slide show of those pages for viewing off-line. It is this latter technique this section describes.

What You Will Need
There are a number of techniques available for capturing web content. The most widely used are cut and paste (text) and right click, save (images). To use these techniques effectively, you must then create a document into which you insert this content, whether online or in printed format.

While the above is effective, it is time consuming, the links may not work and the overall design of the original page is lost. By using a program called Catch The Web, you will capture the whole page and make it available for viewing in its original format.

The first thing which comes to mind (or should) is wondering if this is legal. Basically, as an educator, you can make copies of things for your class so long as you give credit and do not alter content. With this program both things happen. I also want to say, I have no finacial interest in the company that makes Catch the Web.

Using Catch the Web
The first thing you must do is download from the Internet a copy of Catch the Web. The cost is less than $40. Download and registration instructions are on their website. Run the downloaded program to install it, entering the information when requested. At this time, the program is only written for Windows 9x, and Internet Explorer 3.0 or 4.0 must be installed on your system.

Next, start Catch the Web and minimize it. This puts a push pin icon into the task bar. Start your web browser and go to the different sites you want the students to view. At each site you want to capture, simply drag the push pin onto the page and click. A dialogue box will come up into which you can add your notes or questions.

After all the pages have been captured, switch to the Catch the Web program. Each page will be listed on the left window and you will be able drag the pages in any order you choose. When you are satisfied with the presentation (it also has a view presentation feature), press the Compile Presentation button. The program then takes all the pages and creates an executable file (.exe) and is saved onto a floppy disk.

The student can then take the floppy disk home and run the presentation on his or her machine. This executable file will automatically start either Netscape or Internet Explorer (one of which must be installed on their system).

The pages are viewed by clicking forward and back arrows similar to a slide show. The links in the pages are hot and should the student click one, it will attempt to find that page on the Internet. If the student chooses to click links, he or she will need an active Internet connection.

Things to help you
Catch the Web is a very easy program to learn and use. Below are a couple of helpful hints.

  1. Depending, of course, on the graphics of the captured pages, about 25 pages will fit on a disk.
  2. If a page has frames to display content, click the push pin on the very bottom of the page to get all frames. Otherwise, you will only capture the frame in which the push pin was displayed.
  3. After a presentation has been compiled into an .exe file, it can not be altered. If you plan later to add pages, be sure to save the content in Catch the Web as you exit the program. This allows you to open the presentation again and add pages.
  4. Your students can also use this program to create presentations for the class or for you and send you the disk.
Using this program is very easy and has the potential for a wide range of uses. Go to their web site and give it a try.

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