Monday, February 21, 2011

Creating Valuable Class Web Sites

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.

2 comments:

  1. The idea of creating a classroom website is one of the best ideas that anyone can come up with. Now that we have articles like this one to help us facilitate our knowledge on the web will only make education better and more efficient for students. I am a big fan of having class information avaiable online, because it is much more convenient for students to look up assingments, news, and articles that will only further their academic knowledge. I think that the second method that was introduced to us is going to be the most efficient way to communicate with students, because blogs and groups over the internet are the safest method possible as it only allows followers of that particular class. We really don't need teachers to be flashy when it comes to presenting class information on the internet. So being advanced in creating a nice looking website should not be a priority.

    Thanks for the post!!

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  2. Collin,

    I really enjoyed reading your blog post about creating valuable class websites. I thought that it was great that Baker provided an outline for class websites that could be used by anyone, no matter what their background in technology is. It is also useful that she gives examples of websites that allow teachers to make free web pages and blogs. This makes it accessible to teachers with even the most limited resources and technology skills.

    Also, in Baker’s second method she explains how teachers can use wikis and blogs. This is a great idea for teachers because it also allows students to satisfy some of the NETS. Students will be working to collaborate and also be gaining a greater appreciation for the application of technology to their education.

    I really enjoyed reading your post! Thanks so much for sharing!

    Best,
    Catherine Weldon

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