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Web Projects: Introduction


Much of the actual work for the Web site took place in our classroom, not in the computer lab. We wrote about and discussed what we wanted on our site and then worked on particular pages.

--Maura Donnelly,
former adult literacy teacher at LaGuardia Community College in Queens, New York

Once the group has a basic idea for a site, there is a strong temptation to jump right in and start making pages. Try to resist this temptation. Instead, work with your students to develop an overall plan for the project. Not only does this greatly increase the likelihood that you'll complete the project successfully, it also mirrors the way Web sites are developed by professional Web designers. And many Web site planning tasks (such as mapping roles to tasks, developing a schedule) can be good experiential learning activities on general office work.

For example, you may want to start the planning by asking your students to spell out the goals and objectives for the site. Understanding what the group wants to achieve with the site will be an important factor in making decisions about content, design, and navigation. For example, let's say your ESOL students have decided that they want to put a virtual tour of the local library on the Web. Who is the audience for this site? Is it other ESOL students in your program? Newcomers to the community? If the answer is other ESOL students, how might this influence decisions about the amount and style of writing on your site?

Other preliminary planning questions might include: What needs will this site address? What kinds of questions will the audience for the site likely have?

We used a focusing question to guide us: "If [other students] were coming to visit, what would we show them?" First we talked about the level of detail we would show. Were we talking about a visit to our school, our class, our city, our borough, or our homes? Some students wanted to get personal and show their homes, family, friends, and workplaces. Other students wanted to show pictures of our class, our computer lab, and fellow students and include examples of our writing. Still others wanted to show the visitors New York City and especially our borough, Queens. We had much discussion about this; the students' individual pages reflect this diversity of thought.

-- Maura Donnelly,
former adult literacy teacher at LaGuardia Community College in Queens, New York

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Last Updated October 23, 2003