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Maintaining your own website


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#1 Nico Zijlstra

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Posted 22 February 2005 - 07:24 PM

Presentation 17/2/2005 Toulouse
by Nico Zijlstra


Maintaining your own website
Is it worthwhile?

1994: Sintermeertencollege was awarded the title “Computerschool” of the year
• 30 computers: but what to do with them?
• Computers being used as typewriters
•Full potential of the WWW not fully understood
•Students as a driving force behind changes
 The Unesco Time-project kicks off changes (1995). The Time-project included (and includes)
• WWW
• Videoconferencing
• E-mail
• Chat
> After the Time-project our schoolmanagment decides to build a website (1995)

But after a while the site proved to be too static:
Most information is behind a login

Problems I have with the school’s website:
ICT?
Technology: yes but:
 It is a STATIC website, limited Information only
Communication only per e-mail
 No learning environment
 No interactivity possible
 No nested websites
 No quizzes
 No forum

Solution:
Build your own!

With My own History webpage I’ve been able to realize some of my teaching aims:

• I can manage other webbased projects I’ve been doing over the last couple of years: I don’t have to rely on a webmaster of some kind
• I’m able to add little tasks to the curriculum: offering extra information tot students, offering them on-line help.
• I manage a students forum. Part of it is moderated by students themselves
• The homepage keeps you up-to-date with historical or schoolevents.

One of the websites is an e-learning environment: it's a database driven website, comining local history with an attractive taylormade e-learning environment:Industrial Heritage
• It’s about local history
• Resources available to students
• Content can be managed by the teacher
• Students go step-by-step through their research
• Students put their presentations on-line
Special feature:
• The teacher logs the progress of the student

However there are problems in maintaining your own website:
Obstacles:
Organizational:
 Maintaining is a 1 man job
 History Department collegues must share information and educational materials
 Schoolmanagment is not happy with this extra website
Technical: Teach yourself in using Dreamweaver/ Fireworks and Photoshop
Educational:
 Computers are not always available: I’ve got to book a computerroom
– ICT-projects sometimes become homework
 History Department collegues stick to books
 Not all students are computer-literate
 Only 2 Departments write ICT materials: History and ICT

But there are solutions:
 Have a plan, a structure for what you have in mind
– Put it in your school’s curriculum (the best way to get support)
 Get backup from the managment/ board of directors
 Work in a team!
– Don’t do it on your own!
– Get involved in the ICT-plan of your school
– Good practice convinces lots of collegues
– Ask students!
 A good Content Managment System gives shared responsibilities
 Work with E-Help!


Maintaining your own website
Is it worthwhile?

 Yes,
 Because changes are inevitable!
 The future classroom could be everywhere and at any time

So maintaining your own website:
 helps students
 motivates students
 gives you the opportunity to create your own curriculum
 makes teaching up-to-date

#2 Doug Belshaw

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Posted 22 February 2005 - 08:51 PM

I was inspired by Nico's presentation and subsequent discussion with him. I do think he and others brought up an important point regarding the role of a website which belongs to the teacher rather than the school. I was startled by John's declaration that a teacher's LEA can claim all work done on your website was actually in pursuit of your occupation. This would mean that they have the intellectual copyright for your site! Given that websites (or their future replacements) will play an increasingly large part in the education of pupils, there needs to be clear guidance as to what is acceptable and what is not. I find it almost unbelievable that some institutions can consider such obvious examples of good practice a threat or something negative!

Another thing which I liked was the interactive schemes of work on Nico's website. This means that not only do pupils know what they are doing in any given lesson, but where they are going and what to do if the teacher is not present. :D

:rolleyes: Doug

#3 Andy Walker

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Posted 22 February 2005 - 09:46 PM

I was inspired by Nico's presentation and subsequent discussion with him. I do think he and others brought up an important point regarding the role of a website which belongs to the teacher rather than the school. I was startled by John's declaration that a teacher's LEA can claim all work done on your website was actually in pursuit of your occupation. This would mean that they have the intellectual copyright for your site! Given that websites (or their future replacements) will play an increasingly large part in the education of pupils, there needs to be clear guidance as to what is acceptable and what is not. I find it almost unbelievable that some institutions can consider such obvious examples of good practice a threat or something negative!

Another thing which I liked was the interactive schemes of work on Nico's website. This means that not only do pupils know what they are doing in any given lesson, but where they are going and what to do if the teacher is not present.  :D

:rolleyes: Doug

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I agree with Doug. Nico's presentation was very interesting and he is clearly a very technically able member of our group.

The problem both Nico and Doug have identified is that of 'intellectual property'.

It is conceivable that Nico's, Doug's and my school could claim rights over our websites because we create and use them in the execution of our duties as employees.

I don't know however of any school that has been stupid enough to try to enforce this.

I do however make a point of uploading most of the resources I create to my College web site as well as my own site just in case :D

I am happy to report that instead of seeing me as a "threat" because I have a successful website my College decided to appoint me as 'E-Learning Co-ordinator'.

#4 John Simkin

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Posted 28 February 2005 - 11:46 AM

The problem both Nico and Doug have identified is that of 'intellectual property'.

It is conceivable that Nico's, Doug's and my school could claim rights over our websites because we create and use them in the execution of our duties as employees.

I don't know however of any school that has been stupid enough to try to enforce this.

I do however make a point of uploading most of the resources I create to my College web site as well as my own site just in case :)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Many years ago a LEA subject adviser told my brother that the LEA had the legal right to claim the royalties of a school textbook that he had written.

An article appeared in the TES a couple of years ago that was written by a lawyer. He stated that if any LEA ever attempted to gain the royalties of a textbook author who was also a classroom teacher, they would win their case.

As far as I know this has never happened to a teacher. However, it did happen to a journalist friend of mine a couple of years ago. He had created a successful website on football. He sold the website for several million pounds to a multinational corporation. His newspaper claimed the money because it was argued that it was created as a result of his work as a journalist. My friend claimed that the website had been created by his son (this was partly true). The newspaper won the case although my friend’s son was given a small sum for the work he had done on the website.

To be on the safe side I would always advise any teacher to transfer any material they have created on their school website to transfer it to their own website. This would not stop the school claiming copyright if you went on to sell your website in some multimillion deal. However, as corporations have now discovered that this is not a very good idea, this is unlikely to be a problem.

#5 Graham Davies

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Posted 28 February 2005 - 12:15 PM

John raises an important point regarding copyright. Coincidentally, three colleagues and I have just finished writing a guidance document on digital language labs that contains a substantial section on copyright. In our document we write:

If a work has been created as part of the employment duties of the creator, the copyright will reside with the employer unless a contract specifically states otherwise. Under EU law, an employee has certain “moral rights”, such as
- the right to be identified as the author of a work (“paternity right”),
- the right not have work falsely attributed to him/her,
- the right not to have work subjected to derogatory treatment (“integrity right”),
- the right to ask for his/her name to be removed from unapproved versions and to request that a notice be attached stating that the work is being issued against their wishes.
It should be added, however, that the UK has opted to implement a restricted form of these moral rights for employees.


These two links may be useful:

ICT4LT General guidelines on copyright:
http://www.ict4lt.or...n_copyright.htm

Casey John (2004) Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in networked e-learning: a beginners guide for content developers, JISC Legal Information Service:
http://www.jisclegal...johncasey_1.htm

Our document was commissioned by a government agency. Needless to say, we have exercised our "paternity right" to be identified as authors. We have, however, assigned copyright to the government agency in exchange for a one-off fee.

I have been aware for some time of the problem of an LEA claiming copyright to an employee's work. When I began writing seriously around 25 years ago, I made sure that everything I produced for sale or under a royalties agreement was done in my own time and could not be considered as part of my work for the LEA that controlled the college in which I was employed. I therefore set up a private business partnership with my wife, who owned 90% of the partnership, and all fees and royalties accruing from my publications were fed into the partnership. This worked successfully right up until my retirement in 1993 - and now there's no argument!

#6 Anders MacGregor-Thunell

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Posted 28 February 2005 - 04:24 PM

Schools don't appreciate individual sites...

This was indeed a very interesting seminar. One of the things (beside copyright) that we discussed in connection with Nicos' seminar was how some schools don't appreciate individual sites. This seems to be an international phenomena because we heard about several similar experiences from different countries in Europe. It would be interesting to hear some comments about this.
I see an individual website as a good complement to the school website especially if the school has an intranet (which is the case of my school in Gothenburg). The intranet excludes a lot of the visitors you want to reach and it definitely hinders cooperation which is one of the great benefits of ICT...

#7 Juan Carlos

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Posted 28 February 2005 - 06:43 PM

One of the most interesting aspects of your presentation was to realize that a lot of European teachers tend to or need to "bypass" their own educational establishments to start setting up a web site to work with their students.
Probably there are several reasons for this behaviour: rigidity of school management, avoiding being frowned at by traditional colleagues, individualism...

At the same time, we all need to collaborate... E-HELP and other projects show how internet enables teachers living thousands of kilometers away to work together.

Actually, we go on trying to set up a sort of Virtual School together.

#8 Andy Walker

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Posted 28 February 2005 - 06:44 PM

Too many teachers are still "too protective" of their own materials to embrace the ideas of sharing outlined here and also in Doug's excellent seminar.

I have found that in the five or so years that I have had my own website that by keeping it free to other users and allowing anyone to download the resources based on it I have got much more back in return with others being more willing to share with me (ideas, advice and resources).

This has always been on an individual basis however - perhaps it is a problem with institutions??

#9 David Wilson

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Posted 28 February 2005 - 09:31 PM

As far as I am concerned, individual teachers' and school websites are complementary. They may well serve different audiences too. Having my own website is above all a convenience for me. It's like an extension of the hard disc on my home PC. Today I was out of school supervising an examination candidate who is in hospital. During my absence, my students were able to access a web page I had prepared for them on my website over the weekend with assignments to do. So things didn't grind to a halt just because I wasn't physically present in school this morning. Some teachers I correspond with on forums seem to think of their websites as something entirely different from any other medium. They find it odd when I tell them that some teachers place their Powerpoint presentations on their websites. They can't conceive of any web-based activity that doesn't involve Flash, Java or whatever programming device is currently in vogue online. There's a grave danger that if we place barriers in the way of less confident colleagues, we're going to discourage them from sharing their resources online. Many school websites remain static because they're designed by commercial companies who don't make it easy for teachers who want to share their resources. And when it comes to hardware, software and training, we already know the respective status of each of those priorities!

David Wilson
http://www.specialed...ionalneeds.com/

#10 Graham Davies

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Posted 28 February 2005 - 11:18 PM

There is a sinister side to institutions maintaining control over their staff's Web pages. Some universities censor the texts that staff place on Web pages located on their servers. I suppose the university management may claim that it needs to exercise control just in case someone takes legal action against the university, for whatever reason. See:
http://www.labournet...06/censor1.html
Many more cases are documented on the Web.

#11 Graham Davies

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Posted 01 March 2005 - 10:22 AM

Andy writes:

I have found that in the five or so years that I have had my own website that by keeping it free to other users and allowing anyone to download the resources based on it I have got much more back in return with others being more willing to share with me (ideas, advice and resources).


I also make free resources available through two websites that I maintain – both concerned with ICT in language learning and teaching:
http://www.ict4lt.org
http://www.camsoftpa...k/freestuff.htm

However, there appears to be a growing problem with regard to teachers setting up their own websites. In another forum to which I subscribe a languages teacher announced that she had set up a website offering free resources for language teachers. Just two weeks later she announced that her broadband service provider had suspended her site for the remainder of the month as she had exceeded her bandwidth allocation for that month – too many visitors and too many downloads.

The current trend among broadband service providers is to move towards a pay-as-you-go system, rather like that offered by mobile phone service providers. My broadband service provider has just announced that as from April 2005 it is introducing a sliding scale of charges based on traffic, ranging from 15-20 pounds per month for average users like myself to 300 pounds per month for “bandwidth hogs”. This is to stop a small number of heavy users clogging up the service and slowing it down for the majority of users.

I know of two languages teachers who set up resources sites that were initially accessible free of charge, but they have now had to introduce a subscription service in order to limit the traffic at their site and to pay for their increased broadband fees. There are broadband service providers that still offer unlimited uploads and downloads for a fixed monthly fee – but I wonder how long it will last. It looks like it’s the end of the free lunch.

The ICT4LT site that I mention above receives a lot of visits - around 600 per day -but it is hosted at a university and they do not (yet) appeared to be bothered by this volume of traffic. My own site receives around 40 visits per day - which is a drop in the ocean.

#12 Justin Q. Olmstead

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Posted 03 March 2005 - 07:06 PM

Going back to the presentation itself, I would recommend that teachers also look into using moodle or blackboard as ways of using technology. Both are on-line teaching devices that allow discussion, testing, quizes and links to create a "virtual classroom." Moodle is free and is used in many schools (including mine) to expand student options in both classes and time. Blackboard is fairly expensive and used by most colleges. Both are easy to use and constantly expanding in the scope that they will cover.

#13 Doug Belshaw

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Posted 04 March 2005 - 06:36 PM

Is it worth having your own website? Yes and no.

Yes - I can tell by my server logs that a lot of my pupils are accessing what I put on my website. It must be the shy and retiring ones because any time I ask for a show of hands as to who uses it I never get any... So it's great knowing that pupils who would never come and ask you for extra help or work can access something outside the classroom which I have control over.

No - sometimes, as has been outlined by others, it can be more hassle than it's worth! I had several pupils say during an ICT lesson the other day that my website was s*** and why did I bother when it was boring and pointless? In addition, one obvious benefit that Nico and David have pointed out - leaving work when not physically present - only works if you have the support of the rest of your department/school. It also takes up a lot of time if you want to do it properly.

So in conclusion, so long as you're not a perfectionist and realise the limitations likely to imposed by your school environment, yes it is worth setting up your own website. Remember that Rome wasn't built in a day - so long as you have a fairly logical structure it can be added to over time. As Justin has pointed out, content management systems (CMS) such as Moodle simplify things immensely. Other CMS can be previewed at opensourcecms.com.

:plane Doug

#14 Andrew Field

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Posted 04 March 2005 - 08:23 PM

No - sometimes, as has been outlined by others, it can be more hassle than it's worth! I had several pupils say during an ICT lesson the other day that my website was s*** and why did I bother when it was boring and pointless? In addition, one obvious benefit that Nico and David have pointed out - leaving work when not physically present - only works if you have the support of the rest of your department/school. It also takes up a lot of time if you want to do it properly.:plane Doug

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


No to be funny, but you must realise this is actually a compliment from a moody teenager. You have got to them, made them reach a conclusion. You can then deliberately 'mis-hear' their comments and reply with over the top and gushing thanks for their views. "Thank you so much - it was great to hear you think it will be a hit" :D :lol:

The fact students are noticing that you have a site is really positive. Most certainly do not be put off my a couple of mouthy students who see it as their duty to put your work down.

Point of having your own website - simple - it extends your ability to be a teacher, enables you to continue offering help and ideas 24 hours a day, provides you with added 'reach', offers opportunities for collaboration and extension of your work and ideas. It also provides something interesting every day in your 'inbox'.

Edited by Andrew Field, 04 March 2005 - 08:23 PM.


#15 Graham Davies

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Posted 05 March 2005 - 02:42 AM

I don't have a lot of experience with regard to websites aimed at students, as my main area of interest now is teacher training. The 600-odd hits per day that the ICT4LT site receives speaks for itself regarding the popularity of the site, but why do I get so little feedback from teachers who access it? The site is peppered with discussion topics, learning tasks and invitations to address questions to the site management team via a convenient feedback form, but we get no more than a dozen questions or requests for information per month - and about half of these have little to do with the topics discussed at the site. Conclusion: Web people are lurkers and don't appear to read very accurately. However, I do get enough congratulatory comments to convince me that I am doing a worthwhile job.




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