Making a Content Web Site

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Opening Statement
Why should you consider this?
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What are web pages used for and why do we care?

Well, in this age of technology, computers, and teaching across distances, we need all the extra help we can get. Making web pages and having your students make web pages can enhance and expand your educational time and experiences. Seems a lofty goal, but in fact, it is true. Used wisely, web pages can make teaching and learning interesting and fun - adding motivating factors that sometimes fall aside when using only textbooks and lectures.

For example, students can create a web site on a particular subject rather than the traditional 5 page paper. Why would you want them to have that alternative? Several reasons. The medium of communication today is the web page, not the traditional report in business and society. It is television; it is visual and verbal, it is multimedia. That's just one tiny reason. There are others. Students (in my humble experience) gravitate to new experiences and like transmitting their thoughts, research, and ideas through other forms beyond the traditional 3-5 page paper. They appreciate learning more than if Hamlet was crazy or merely suicidal or what exactly Moby Dick is all about by learning both the "English literature tradition" while they are learning how to express themselves through a web page project. And there is no question that "reading" web sites and grading them does give a professor a well deserved and needed change from piles of dead trees - term paper mounds.

This is not just opinion, but logical progression to a higher plane of learning. Think about it. Paper tends to only allow for words. Students have been programmed from elementary school to think in black and white terms, linearly, left to right as they either scrawl with pencil and eraser or have their mothers type their papers the night before the due date. Web pages and web sites are different. They allow for color and movement - placement and interactivity - a step beyond the silent 2-dimensional lined flat papyrus. Web sites also require a bit more thought and planning than the traditional term paper or report. They are more versatile, energetic, and expand a student's skill set beyond just knowing how to place sentences in grammatical order.

I'll give you one example before we move on past this introduction:

I teach college English courses in my spare time (like there's really any of that for us instructors, but let's pretend there is). In my classes, I have to open the minds of the students to many "old" pieces of literature. And that's what the students think before they even step into my virtual classroom - Hamlet: "Yeah, he's nuts and dies". Ahab: "Yeah, he's nuts and dies." Romeo: "Idiot and shoulda dated someone else and he dies, too." And they can rent all these plays and novels on video in multiple versions, so why read? At this point, I ask myself the same thing. So, what do we do to get students motivated? OK, fight fire with fire. Movies/television are movement, color, and variety. Web pages are the online equivalent and really can do more. I decided my students could make subject-oriented web sites in place of the traditional term paper and told them as much. GASP! I challenged decades of educational thought by suggesting this change according to some "colleagues" and some of them were very upset and angered by the thought, quite vocal in fact. But I persevered and so should you. Here's the secret I'm going to tell you that the students don't need to know about this whole process. We don't need them knowing we are the little man behind the green curtain in OZ. The students end up working harder, learning more, and doing more than if they had typed a traditional paper. And since this is just between the two of us, we can be honest here. You and I both know we are sick and tired of reading the same old papers: "This paper will discuss the reasons why marijuana needs to be legalized." or "Frost committed suicide so "Stopping by the Woods" is about death." Once I began asking for web sites in lieu of some of the papers, I don't groan anymore on the day those assignments are due. I don't lug around a pile of dead wood masquerading as great final exams or midterms. I have just as much enlightened fun as the students when I see their web site projects. So, instead of reading ten pages on the virtues and misconceptions of "X", I get a web site with text, graphics, references, links to those references, and color about the subject. I have happy and motivated students who have not only learned something about rhythm and metaphor in poetry, but students who are excited and don't even realize their skill set has extended to presentation and layout and knowing new technological ways to communicate.

We only have a short window until the students exceed our knowledge in this area, so now's the time to start on this journey. At least, you have an advantage - you've got me to help you. I've been there in the trenches and I'll tell you what not to try and what to do instead. Practice makes perfect. Will you stumble? Maybe, maybe not. Will you have a new experience? Most definitely. Will it make teaching more interesting? I hope so. It has for me and many others. It is a small contribution to the new wave of thought concerning "electronic portfolios" for students. I believe this manual could be your bridge between the tradition of paper classroom assignments and that electronic portfolio evolution. It's worth the try.

So, let me reiterate one thing and give you some suggestions of how to use this skill and tool in your classrooms:

Giving students the option of a web site project in lieu of a traditional paper adds not only a new skill to you and your student's repertoire,
but you also gain creativity, motivation, and change for everyone.

Where can this be applied?

With each of these examples, it is easy to see that content-based web sites can add variety to your class and to your students' work and knowledge base.

Next, let's tackle Text:

Opening Statement Text Image Tables Hyperlinks Navigation Artistic Concerns Content Conclusion

Making a Content Web Site

Site Map

Opening Statement
Why should you consider this?
Click to Opening Statement - How to look at Dreamweaver