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Web Projects: Introduction


Once we had decided on some basic components of the site -- a first page, individual pages, e-mail with our key pals, local landmarks, and our school and class -- we set about designing the site. This design work included the aesthetics of the site as well as its navigation and flow. This last component, the flow, was possibly the most difficult aspect for students. We placed ourselves in the mind of the visitor and, with all of the components of the site on the blackboard, we asked: "Where would I go next?"

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

Now it's time to start working with HTML, or HTML-editing software. As noted in the introduction, this book is not a tutorial on HTML. However, we can offer a few tips on how to introduce the concept of HTML to beginners.

HTML is a simple markup language that allows Web publishers to create Web pages. HTML is really just a series of tags that are integrated into the text of a text document, and thus a Web page made with HTML is really just a plain-text file that can be created and edited using any text editor, such as Notepad.

Of course, there are also several HTML editors available, which allow you to create pages without knowing how HTML works at all. Working with these programs is easier for most people because you can see what the page is going to look like as you work on it, much like creating a newsletter in PageMaker or a letter in Microsoft Word. However, we suggest you and your students learn (at least) some basic HTML. While HTML editors are very useful, occasionally they will produce an unexpected result or error, and in those cases it might very well be easier to go in and fix the HTML in a text editor. You can build a site without knowing a thing about HTML, but it is probably going to be helpful to know the basics.

HTML tags are usually English words (such as "blockquote") or abbreviations (such as "p" for paragraph), but they are distinguishable from the regular text because they are placed in small angle brackets. So the paragraph tag is <p>, and the blockquote tag is <blockquote>.

If you decide to teach your students some HTML, we have found that a great way to illustrate this is to open the HTML file in Notepad and a Web browser at the same time. (See the illustrations below).

View of html code
View of how html appears in browser
In this example, the file "mypage.html" is open in both a text editor and a Web browser. You can try this yourself by creating a file in Notepad or another text editor, typing the text as shown above, and saving the page with the name "my page.html." Open the file in a Web browser and it should look like what you see in the second window.

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Last Updated October 23, 2003