Why a class web site?

So many universities offer programs like Blackboard, Angel and iLearn to collect class material online. These are great for posting grades, offering calendar reminders and opening dropboxes for assignments to be submitted.

However, I maintained a separate class web site as well. Here are some reasons why it can be a benefit:

  • It can look good. Most of those programs make lists with the only design option as indenting lists under other lists. I wanted to have something more visual. My web site had a bright yellow background that looked like notebook paper and I had options to make the text large and colorful and make dramatic section headings. Honestly my web site was largely made up of lists as well, but I could make it creative and attention-grabbing.
  • It can embed videos. Rather than just posting a link to find a video for class, I was able to embed the video on the web page so it broke up the page and caught attention. The embeds put a still shot from the video with an option to play it. I was able to make this as large as I wanted it and position it where I wanted it.
  • It can eliminate guessing. With the programs it is not always clear if information is under “lessons” or “content” or similar labels. The web page allowed me to post most of the material to one page with links to details on sub pages for only a few particular topics. Most of what they needed was always visible.
  • There is less to redo each semester. Shifting material from one semester to another could be complicated and may have to be rushed right before the semester starts depending on when the university makes it available. With the web site, the material that stayed the same was always ready to go from semester to semester and I only had to update new material like speaking orders, the semester calendar and links as the units changed.

In the last few semesters, I started posting my PowerPoint slides at the web site as well. I can see both upsides and downsides to this. I thought it helped for those students who printed them out because my PowerPoints are usually very simple and it gave them the chance to focus on adding the details. It also, of course, makes it easier for those who must miss a day although because the slides were so simple it did not give everything we talked about but only a skeleton of what we covered.

For some of things I included on my web site, see the web resources category on the right.

What are some good ideas you’ve seen included in class web sites?

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About teachingpublicspeaking

I believe public speaking can go from most dreaded class to favorite class. I'm a former public speaking college instructor who spent years seeking out activities, assignments and examples to make the class interactive as well as educational -- they are collected here. I welcome suggestions for additions.

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