In her article "Creating Valuable Class Web Sites," included in the May 2008 edition of Learning & Leading with Technology, professor of literacy studies at the University of Missouri-Columbia Elizabeth A. Baker, outlines three methods for easily establishing a classroom web site. The methods increase in difficulty from method one in order to accommodate the varying degrees of technological experience possessed by the user.
The first method described by Baker is to set up a web site through a web site provider such as Scholastic.com or FreeWebs.com. Many of these providers include advertisements on your site but they are free of charge. Although these sites provide users with a quick and easy opportunity to establish a web site, the downside is that such sites "do not have as many options for design and content..." (Baker 2008, p. 2) Another disadvantage lies in the fact that the user cannot take the material from one of these websites and transfer it to another if he or she wishes to change platforms.
For those who are more comfortable using technology, Baker suggests the use of blogs, groups and wikis in method two. For instructors who wish to allow their students to add to the website or engage in online discussions, Baker suggests the use of one or all of the aforementioned platforms, the creation of which Baker describes as a "valuable literacy activity, giving (students) the opportunity to develop important literacy skills for the workplace." (Baker 2008, p. 3) She offers Yahoo and Google just a few of the many providers that provide free group spaces. Baker also provides a table of sites that allow users to create a blog at no cost, such as Blogger and Weblogger.
Method three outlines how instructors can develop web sites independently. There are a variety of software options that allow users to create more sophisticated and personalizes web sites. Baker suggests Dreamweaver, FrontPage and iWeb as three options. Although these programs require a time commitment to learn the content but the payoff is in an attractive and professional-looking web site.
No matter what the level of computer literacy an instructor possesses, there are options for creating a web site. Class web sites have unlimited potential in keeping students connected with their teachers as well as their fellow students. Even for a user following the suggestions in method one of Baker's article, there is always the potential to create sites that are increasingly sophisticated as an instructor learns the ins and outs of web site creation.