On the Cutting Edge - Professional Development for Geoscience Faculty
Designing Principles for Creating Effective Web-Based Learning Resources in the Geosciences
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Cutting Edge > Web-Based Resources > Website Design > Writing Web Pages

Writing Web Pages


My First Web Page

Creating the first incarnation of a web page is often one of the hardest parts. Once something exists it is very simple to expand on it. For this reason, we have included a very basic plan to get your first class web site up and running. From there, you will be surprised how fast it can take off. Click the link below if you would like to see the plan.

  1. Talk to your IT professionals.
    • Find out what tools and resources are available at your instituion.
    • Find out how to acquire and access space on a web server for your files.
  2. Pick one of your classes for which you would like to create a homepage.
  3. Type the class syllabus into a word processor and save as a web page. This option is available in most modern word processing packages. There can be problems if you try to include images in the page, but for plain text and formatting it is quick, easy and effective.

    Alternatively, there are applications designed explicitly for building web pages that don't require users to learn HTML (e.g. Dreamwearver, Frontpage). These programs are not as familiar to work with as a word processor, but they are much more powerful. They are also the type of tool that you will need to learn eventually if you become serious about building web pages.

    Another reason to check with your technology people is that some institutions already have in place course management systems like Blackboard and WebCT for their faculty to use in making class web pages. If available, this is probably the simplest option although not necessarily the most flexible. Again talk to you IT professionals.

  4. Following the instructions of your IT professionals, upload or move your newly-made web page onto your institution's web server. Make sure you know what the address of the page will be when it is in place so that you can give it to your students and others you want to view it. As soon as you upload your page onto the server, it will be available to the internet, but until you give people the address, few people are likely to find it.
  5. Learn more about HTML and how to design your new class web page.
    • Check out one or more of the tutorials linked below.
    • Find class web pages created by other faculty and view the source code and see if you can figure out how they did what they did. (Typically under the "View" menu, select "Source" or "Page Source".)
  6. As time permits and as you gain more expertise, add more materials to the page. Look for websites that would be beneficial to the students in the class and add links to them on your page. In no time, you will have mastered the basics of publishing web pages.

Learning How to Write HTML

A good first step is to talk to your institution's technology support people. They will most likely have an extensive list of recommendations for learning web design and the use of HTML. Below we have listed some options, but this is far from an exhaustive list.

Online Web Design Tutorials
Online Web Design Tutorial (more info)
Web Style Guide (more info)
Online HTML Tutorials
W3Schools - http://www.w3schools.com/
Tutorials in W3C compliant HTML as well as several other types of web programming languages
HTML: Getting Started - http://www.utexas.edu/learn/html/
HTML tutorials by the University of Texas at Austin
Writing HTML - http://www.math.unm.edu/writingHTML/tut/index.html
This resource was created to help teachers create learning resources that access information on the Internet
Books
Lynda.com - http://www.lynda.com/
This would be a good place to start. Lynda Weinman has published a very good series of products on web authoring. She has written books on several of the popular authoring tools currently in use. She also highlights the work of other authors in her series. It is likely that you will find a title that speaks to the authoring tool you plan to use.
Ask your IT professionals to recommend other books.
Based on what tools are available at your institution they will be able to direct you to specific titles.
Local and National peer groups/professional organizations

Terms and Tools

There is a wide array of new terminology and tools that you will need to familiarize yourself with. All of the books and web tutorials mentioned above will have extensive glossaries of terms and tools.

HTML - Hyper Text Markup Language
This is the language that tells web browsers how to show a page's content.
Tag
These pieces of HTML apply specific commands to certain portions of text and tell a browser how to render that content.
CSS - Cascading Style Sheets
Style Sheets allow for the page formatting to be taken care of at once for all your pages and keep it separate from the content of the pages for easy updating.
Authoring software
There are several software packages available (e.g. Dreamweaver, Netscape Composer) that help write the code for web pages based on how you want the page layout to be.
Web hosting
In order for your pages to be visible to the internet, they have to be housed on a computer that is capable of making them available. This is an area where you will need to work closely with your technology support people.

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