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John Simkin

Teachers producing websites

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What I'd really like, in the best of all possible worlds, would be for someone to wave a magic wand so that I suddenly became computer-literate and able to produce web pages like JDC or Doug...

Since that isn't going to happen, how about some step-by-step idiot's guides to things like making a short film, spiffing up Power Point presentations? Or, even better, some sort of template with simple instructions which would allow incompetents like me to make their own webpage...

As someone said on one of these threads, if technology is "hard" then harassed teachers rushing to meet the demands of the next committee meeting, or the next set of reports, or the next, etc, etc aren't going to use it. This is even more true if someone takes the plunge, tries it out, and it "doesn't work" because the instructions simply weren't basic enough...

I first decided to create me own website in 1997. I employed someone to do it for me. He let me down and I was forced to find a replacement who could do it for me. He got it started but he was expensive and was not very good at doing what I wanted. I then read a review of a new piece of software (Webmaster). The reviewer claimed it was very easy to do. I bought a copy and found the reviewer was right. It took me a hour to grasp the basics. In fact it was no more difficult to use than a word processor program (in fact it is very similar).

Since then I have taught loads of teachers how to produce their own website. (Several are actually members of this Forum). Again, it usually only takes an hour. It obviously helps to teach people on their own computer at home. People obviously like to call on you if they have difficulty about a certain aspect of the program. But I have coped by using websites to solve the problems I have encountered.

I cannot understand why all schools don’t train their teachers to develop their own websites. I am also amazed that teachers are leaving their PGCE courses without knowing how to create their own websites.

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We're having this debate internally at the moment. Our university has produced an 'idiot-proof' web site, based on a programme called Web Publisher, which is so heavily infested with scripts that it's a bit like trying to write a letter using the templates provided in Microsoft Word. In other words, the sites created all come out looking the same … so you quickly lose your way as teacher after teacher takes his Word documents and posts them straight on the web.

My line (and that of a few others) is that you have to understand the new medium on its own terms. Dreamweaver isn't intrinsically more difficult than any word-processing or desktop publishing programme, so why not use it? I'd like teachers to be freer, not more restricted, but this, of course, goes against the policies of just about every IT department on the planet!

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I have moved these postings that appeared in the wrong thread:

>Or, even better, some sort of template with simple instructions which would allow incompetents like me to make their own webpage...<

The problem is that we tend to be perfectionists. We look at a page designed by a website design company and sigh "I can't do that". And you're right, you can't produce a web page - at that level of sophistication.

Here's how I started. Load up Word. Type what you want to say. When you come to save your work, access "File" then "Save as", then "Save as type Web Page (HTML)". Press return. Instant web page!

What matters on a web page is first and foremost its content. Worry about advanced design features later. There are many "hallo world"-type websites, brochureware, packed with pretty features but with nothing else to say. Far fewer are those whose content offers a real solution to a real human problem. I know which kind of site I prefer.

Often the problem with websites designed by commercial companies is that the result is very professional-looking but the site remains the same for years after it was first created: nobody knows how to edit it. I often direct the acronym KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) at myself when I word process or create a web page.

David Wilson

http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com

Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug is a great book on good web site design.

You can read a sample chapter on: http://www.sensible.com/

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...Since then I have taught loads of teachers how to produce their own website. ..

..I cannot understand why all schools don’t train their teachers to develop their own websites. I am also amazed that teachers are leaving their PGCE courses without knowing how to create their own websites.

key words - creating own web sites

John, I think, it is imposible to catch all spectrum of knowledges about HW and SW, including creating web sites - it´s (fine) art.

You are right, every teacher should be able to know basic information about creating web sites and teach it, but complet spectrum making the sites nice, incl. JavaScript, PHP, and more and more is largely in the hands of our students. They are, as well as we, specialised. I think, everybody has his (her) own individual specialization, and this could be for instance perfect creating web pages.

The most important is text, contents, information, clarity and easy navigation.

And what is the basal need? To keep step with permanent progress. Yesterday it was DOS, DBaseIII, WordPerfect, today complex of Office pack and complet Internet pasive and active works, photos, sounds and film editation, in some courses is mandatory learning PowerPoint, and other specialised SW (C++, Autocad, etc.), and tomorrow?

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I've just started a blog on one of our internal sites about how I'm putting together an on-line course which has to be ready in January. At the moment I'm still going through the 'history', but I'll probably be up to the present-day by the end of the week.

If you're interested in reading it, you'll find it at:

http://ganymede.hbv.hik.se/blog/businesswriting.php

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I maintain a site offering ICT training materials geared towards language teachers:

http://www.ict4lt.org

The module on creating websites (No. 3.3) has slipped steadily down the popularity list since the site was opened in 2000. It now occupies position No. 16 our of 16 modules. Does this suggest that language teachers already know all about creating websites and therefore don't need this information or does it suggest that creating websites is no longer considered a priority?

The popularity list on the home page of the ICT4LT site makes interesting reading. The module on concordance programs (2.4) is No. 1, followed by the module on multimedia CALL (2.2).

Now, I'm willing to bet that most of you who teach a subject other than modern foreign languages have never heard of a concordance program, but language teachers obviously regard such an application as important. This illustrates clearly just that ICT training has to be subject-specific in order to capture the interest of teachers. This was also the conclusion of the UK inspectorate OFSTED when they assessed the impact of the New Opportunities Fund (NOF) ICT training progamme that ran in the UK from 1999 to 2003. OFSTED pointed out that generic ICT training was often too technical and incomprehensible to the majority of teachers.

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Guest Toby Cope

I am redesigning my science website, activescience.co.uk.

You can find the homepage of my new design here: www.activescience.co.uk/newsite

Any thoughts on the design would be appreciated. I have only uploaded the first page whilst I finish the rest so none of the links will work at the moment.

Thanks,

Toby Cope

Edited by Toby Cope

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Any thoughts on the design would be appreciated. I have only uploaded the first page whilst I finish the rest so none of the links will work at the moment.

The website looks very good. In fact it looks more like it has been produced by a middle-aged teacher than a teenager. Too many websites have too much going on. I found this site relaxing. It is very unusual for a student to produce an educational website. This is an interesting development. It has been said that it is easier to learn from your own age group that from your parents or teachers.

Sorry to hear about your mother. I lost my father in similar circumstances at the same age as you. One of the consequences of losing a parent when you are young is to make you aware of the limited time you spend on earth. This helps to motivate you to get things done. You know it could be a dangerous thing to leave it to “tomorrow”.

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