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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 18, Number 7, May/June 2006

Using a web site to publish course information

by Tara Ehrcke

When technology is selected and designed with teaching and learning in mind, it can be an extremely useful tool to broaden educational opportunities beyond the classroom. The Internet provides an inexpensive and accessible medium for publishing course resources that can enhance classroom teaching and also provide a rich communication tool for teachers, students, and parents.

What does it look like?
A course-based web site can run the gamut from very simple, static information to a full fledged online course. In its simplest form, a course web site could include the course outline and how to contact the teacher.

A more developed course web site could include assignments, resources (readings, links to web resources, presentation slides, multimedia resources), and due dates.

And at the most advanced end, a course web site built with a Learning Content Management System (such as Moodle, Blackboard, or WebCT), could include a calendar of events, assessment feedback, student grades, a forum for questions and answers, and video lectures.

How do I get started?
The first step in creating a course web site is to find a web server to host your site. There are usually several options: (1) use your school or district server, (2) if you subscribe to high speed Internet at home, you likely have web space with your home account, or (3) use a web hosting service for which you pay a minimal fee. Whichever option you choose, you will need to seek out instructions on how to create your site and post resources on it. Most services and high speed Internet providers will provide detailed instructions when you sign up for an account. If you want to use your school or district server you should contact your local network administrator for assistance.

Once you have your web site available, create a web page for your class or for each course you teach. Make sure you show your students how to use it, and have them inform their parents of the information available. Start small and expand your site as your community learns to use it.

Take full advantage of what your site provides
Once your site is up and running, you can use it to enhance learning opportunities and improve communications. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Post all assignments so that students who miss school can access them from home or from the school computer when they have returned.
  • Post due dates so that both students and parents can easily find them.
  • Post supplementary readings/ activities as enrichment for students who are ahead.
  • Create vocabulary lists with links to online dictionary definitions.
  • Add pages to your site with supplementary information, such as career options and links to post-secondary programs in your subject area.

Where can I learn more?
Many teachers have learned to create web sites as a professional development activity. If you have an ICT teacher in your district, they may be able to host a web site workshop. There are also courses available through community centres and continuing education programs.

Here are some online resources to help get you started.

If you subscribe to the Internet using Shaw, learn how to access your web space at www.shaw.ca/en-ca/CustomerCare/InternetSupport/Residential/WebSpace/UsingWebSpace/.

If you subscribe to the Internet using Telus, learn how to access your web space at www.mytelus.com/internet/webspace/what/index.vm.

Experiment with a free web hosting service (you’ll have a site up and running in 20 minutes) at freewebs.com.

Build a site using a WYSIWIG (What You See Is What You Get) editor:

  • Microsoft FrontPage
  • Macromedia Dreamweaver
  • Adobe GoLive

And for the truly adventurous, learn how to build your own site from scratch using Hypertext Markup Language at www.w3schools.com/html/default.asp.

Tara Ehrcke is an ICT teacher at Spectrum Community School, Victoria.

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