Before you gauge your students' interest in building a Web site, it's worth taking a look to see if you have the basic resources required. (Later, you'll want to take another resource inventory to make sure you have everything you need for your particular project.)
- First, it's a given you'll need access to computers. Do your students have access to computers any time of day? What about your class? Anytime? An hour a week? Do you have to sign up to use the computer lab ahead of time? How far ahead of time? Do you want to spread out the project over the length of a course or teach it as a single, concentrated unit? A realistic assessment of the degree of access your students will have to computers in and out of class is an important prerequisite step. (Of course, you'll also have to decide how many class hours you actually feel is appropriate to devote to this project in light of your other curricular objectives.)
- It's important that your project's design, scale, and scope reflect a realistic assessment of the amount of time your students will actually have to work on it, especially in terms of computer access time.
- In addition, you'll want to make a realistic appraisal of your software situation. Do you have Web design software (like Dreamweaver)? Graphics software? You can actually produce Web pages with nothing more than text editor (like Notepad), but if you want to make and edit graphics or photos, you'll need some sort of graphics software package.
- Another consideration is Internet access. Are your computers hooked up to the Internet? You can design Web pages without being connected to the Internet, but when you are done you will need some way of copying those files to a Web server (see Publishing the Site) that is connected to the Internet. Does your program have a Web server or an Internet Service Provider (ISP) that provides this service? You'll need one or the other to actually publish your files to the Web, and we recommend getting this squared away in the pre-planning stage. We've encountered teachers who have completed sites but haven't thought through how and where pages will go, or who made assumptions that turned out not to be true. As happened to one teacher when their project was just about finished, "we created the pages and were ready to go live but the staff person who promised to take care of this aspect for us was now unavailable. I didn't know what to do. I was stymied and the project was stalled."
If you are having trouble answering these questions, don't be discouraged! If your school or program has a technical support person, they should be able to help you. In addition, you may want to consider recruiting an outside volunteer for help with these preliminary issues (and for additional technical help later in the process).
Last Updated October 23, 2003