First let’s address the function of an instructor web page vs. an online learning platform, just to make sure all of our readers are aware that there is a difference.
If you want to host discussions, put up notes, worksheets, or grades, then you really want an online learning platform (Angel, BlackBoard, etc.). Typically each college or University pays for hosting by one of these companies and all the instructors on campus are instructed to use it for online learning purposes
That said, what should an instructor web page have, how often should it be updated, and how do you set one up?
- Name of instructor
- Contact info (email, office phone, office hours, office location)
- Educational background (degrees received, special training, etc.)
- Recent publications or collaborations
- Photo of instructor (preferrably not the “stock” photo from your campus… I think it’s nice for students to see their instructor out in the “real” world)
- Current list of courses you are teaching and a link to the syllabus for each
- What will you be teaching next semster?
- What is it like to take one of my classes? (Why might a student be visiting your website in the first place? They are probably trying to decide which instructor to take the class from. Tell them what their experience in your class will be like.) I think it is especially important to tell students about the online experiences that they will have if you are teaching hybrid or online courses.
- Links to some of your favorite websites (again, this tells the students a little about you)
If this is the type of information you post, then you should only have to update your website about three times a year (when there is a change in semesters or quarters).
Now the nitty gritty… how?
You’ve probably got about three options:
- Use the website-building software that your campus uses (on our campus, this is a program called SiteBuilder Toolkit). You may need to track down the campus webmaster in order to get a username and password (yes, another one) and to get a short tutorial on how to use the software, but it’s usually not too hard.
- Use your own website building software and FTP client to load the webpage on the campus site. This means purchasing your own software, learning the software, and then getting the directions for FTPing to the campuse website. (really, if all you’re doing is a simple web page, go with option #1)
- Purchase your own domain name, website software, and FTP program. My site’s domain name, http://www.busynessgirl.com/ is purchased through http://www.godaddy.com/, built using a software package called Open Mind (from Matchware), and FTP’ed with a free program called Core FTP Lite, through my godaddy account. I still have a simple campus webpage, but on this page is a link to the secondary (much more complex) site. By hosting the rest of this material off campus, I am not subjected to the changing whims of our web design committee or left high and dry when the campus changes website software. However, this does cost me approximately $100 per year for the hosting and domain name, so there are tradeoffs.
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