Many web sites are geared toward commercial uses with their main
purpose of catching the web surfer's attention toward their product.
Educational web site concerns are different in that they try to produce
classroom environments that are conducive to learning yet attractive
to the students - not to simply catch the wandering surfer's attention.
Below are some guidelines that may help you to create a great learning
environment in your virtual classroom. More detail can be found at
C/AIM Web Style Guide or other web design sites that are freely
your pages into a Main Entrance, Main Work Pages, and other auxiliary
Many times the Main Entrance and Main Work Pages are the same. Your
main work pages are where you would expect students to spend the
most time, probably including your syllabus in it. The main work
page should be one that students can bookmark and use easily.
graphics to a minimum on your main work page.
Since this is the page students will enter most often, it should
be fast to load. For students using a modem to access your class,
download time for graphics can slow down to a crawl making it difficult
to wait for. Test out your pages by accessing it from a modem limiting
the download time to no more than about 10 seconds. If you need to
use large graphics in your course, use them on other auxiliary pages
by using a thumbnail sized image to view or click on to see the full
image. It is also advisable to test viewing your pages on a 640x480
resolution monitor (or temporarily change your screen to that resolution)
so you don't cut off viewing portions of the page which some students
may experience. Having to scroll over to see the rest of a web page
can be a bother.
of a web page.
Although most commercial site designers advise not to have lengthy
pages that you have to scroll through, some academic sites often
need that aspect for easy access to the course information. If a
student needs to scroll up and down a syllabus or assignment page
(a main work page), they can do so and even print it out all at once.
If the page is broken into many small pages, printing could become
a nuisance if needed. If you are using a long scrolling web page
in your course, be sure to include some hyperlink jump points at
the top or bottom of a section so that students can go to other sections
without having to scroll through the entire document to find it. If
used wisely, frames can be used in an efficient manner as a table
of contents for a work page.
An excellent resource article Using
Instructional Design Principles To Amplify Learning On The World Wide
Web does not necessarily follow these guidelines. It is a lengthy
article broken into separate web pages but it has navigation buttons
at the bottom of each page for easy access. However, if you were to
try and print this article, it would take some time having to do so
for each individual web page.
layers of web pages in your site to a minimum.
The various access points to course topics and assignments
should be kept to a minimum so that students do not have
to keep clicking and clicking to find their actual assignment
page for a single topic. Your main working pages should serve
as the base, with each section to be accessed only one, or
possibly two, clicks away.
background colors easy to view along with text.
Try to avoid colors and color combinations that are hard
on the eyes and may not print well. Light and dark contrasts
for background and text work best.
information in chunks surrounded by some space.
Trying to read long paragraphs or entire papers can be difficult
online. Choose fonts such as Times, Helvetica, or Arial that
most users will be able to view. You can also break up long
passages with small graphics, horizontal lines, or bolded
to print out course pages.
As mentioned above, keeping information related to one topic
on one scrolling page makes it easier to print out for students.
Also, when linking to an outside URL, show the actual URL
as well as its title so that students can print out the page
and use it at another location or copy them into another
reference easily. When spelling out both the resource's title
and URL, you might want to make its' link from only the URL
or its' title to make it look a bit more neat.
as site organizers.
Although frames can help organize a site, they can make
it more difficult for a student to print out material and
bookmark individual portions of the site. Of course, you
can always give your students instruction on how to right
click with their mouse inside a frame to open that particular
frame in a new browser window or bookmark the frame. However,
the alternative of not using frames can sometimes make your
site a more accessible one.