What to put on the Web

The first question to ask yourself is "What am I going to use this for?" Your answer to this question will influence how you organize and create your web pages. Although the possibilities are rather overwhelming, don't let them daunt you. Instead, just start with something simple. After you get some experience, build on what you have. Suggestions about where to start and how to organize things include:

  1. Syllabus. This is a great starting point. Students can always get a new copy of the syllabus if they loose it; students considering the course can get a better idea of what it is about; and you can get an easy start at making web pages since the syllabus is probably already on the computer.
  2. Course Schedule. This is useful for students. And since you can easily make changes during the semester, it takes advantage of the web. As with the syllabus, this could simply be handed out on paper. But there are some benefits to placing it on the web and you will gain some experience developing web pages.
  3. Links to Web Sites. As you start to use the web as a resource, this is a great way to point students to relevant content. There is an overwhelming amount of material available in any subject and it is difficult for students to sort through this and find useful information. If you want your students to take advantage of the web, it must be easy and convenient for them to find information. Long lists of web sites are easy to put together, but they are not much help. If you point students to a resource on the web the same day you discuss that topic in class, it is useful, easy, and timely for the students. The key here is finding and organizing material.
  4. Lecture Notes. This project is considerably more involved. Before you start, realize that it is a lot of work. However, many students find this is very useful. Obviously there are concerns, costs, and benefits to weigh before taking this step. You will have to judge this for yourself; for my classes and my students this has been a rewarding effort.
  5. Supplemental material. This may be anything that is useful for your students, including old exams, solutions to problem sets and handouts. Use your imagination. The more useful the course web site is, the more the students will use it. Your site needs to have a "critical mass" so that students take the time to use it as a resource. The more you use it, the more the students will use it.
  6. Files. You are not restricted to using HTML (HyperText Markup Language) documents that display as regular web pages. There are many other methods for presenting information. With the web you can also display:
    1. Adobe Acrobat (pdf files). This is a file format for electronic publishing. It has some page layout advantages over HTML and is especially useful if you have a computer document that you want to present as is, so that your students can see it exactly like you would print it.
    2. Quicktime Movies (mov or qt files). This file format is for video clips. These files are very large, and do not work well over a modem connection. However, on the local network they work fine.
    3. And More. There are lots more possibilities. You can use any computer file, including; spreadsheets, wordprocessing documents, Powerpoint presentations, database files, and anything else that may be useful. If the computer is properly configured the web browser will open the file in the correct application. There are lots of possibilities, but it will take some time and some experimentation to get everything working the way you want.
  7. More. For lots more examples of what can be done using the web in class see Using Netscape as a Presentation Manager.

  8. Before you start writing, read the Policy for Publishing in the World Wide Web

This page is maintained by
Scott Van Bramer
Department of Chemistry
Widener University
Chester, PA 19013

Please send any comments, corrections, or suggestions to svanbram@science.widener.edu.

This page has been accessed 3135 times since 5/30/97.
Last Updated 5/18/98