TechTips from Chef Antoine

 

Software

If the proper ingredients and spices in proper proportions are essential to the creation of a culinary delight, software that is up to the task is just as important for the actual creation of web based instruction. The basic software foraccessing a web based class is, of course, a web browser. (Internet Explorer and Netscape are the most ubiquitous examples). Browsers are platform independent.They must be connected to the Internet to function. The act of connecting is known as "creating a socket" in web parlance. We recommend the use of a 4.0 version browser if the computer has enough RAM to run it. Be aware that if an end user's computer has very little RAM, (16 MB) or less, they probably will not be able to run any browser beyond a 2.0 version.That means you have to take that into account and provide fare that is not too rich for their palate!

My first tip is to KEEP IT SIMPLE at first. Concentrate on creating soundly coded pages, and mastering E-mail- these are comparable to baking a great loaf of bread or the right consistency of pasta. If you put a great sauce on half done pasta, you have a disaster. Be sensitive to your end users tastes- again, strive to develop their palates, but do not get too exotic too soon!

For actually creating a web class, other software is required as well. There are many ways to approach what you need based on what you intend the final form of the class to be, and the level of interactivity. It is possible to design a good webclass with text and images, but you will probably want to move beyond the limitations of HTML eventually.

If any particular web technologies are used in the creation of the class, the end user must also have a means of reading those files. This is generally done with the addition of a plug-in that allows playback of animations,sounds, and movies.

Ways to enhance html capability

  • Forms,cgi, perl, javascript, java Applets, dhtml.
  • The book WebTeaching by David W. Brooks has a good section on Interactive strategies.
  • This site has a good javascript tutorial.
  • The WebMonkey site is one of the best!
  • Plug ins
  • Authorware/Director (Shockwave)
  • Individual components can be created in

  • Premiere (video)
  • SoundEdit /SoundForge (audio)
  • Powerpoint
  • Photoshop
  • Scanning software/ OCR capable
  • Web environments

    TopClass,WebCT, Pathware, LearningSpace demos

    Comparisonsof software features

    A review in PC Week of several products

    Links on Technology in Learning

    Communications

    Email, WebBoard, Chat. Asynchronous communications seem to go better with the online concept- requiring everybody to be online at once sort of defeats the purpose.

    Free PPP for internet TCP/IP interconnectivity and Fetch or WS FTP for FTPing files. That means getting them onto a server for delivery through the net...

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    Questions to answer: What client operating system is being used? Java doesn't work well on 2.0 version or less browsers or Win 3.1. Free viewers for Powerpoint and Word are not available on all platforms.What access does the client have? Can students access at all times or only designated times? How quick will the response time be for questions by email? How competent are the users and how will you measure this? What kind of training is required? Will you prepare documentation and training materials? Virus protection? Printing issues- some versions of Netscape have problems.

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    Taste Test: Test your class on multiple operating systems and multiple versions of browsers.

    Tip One: Design for people, not for the web. Embrace time-tested navigational models like tables of content, consistent iconography and hierarchical flow charts to help people get the most from the web.

    Tip Two: Find a mailing list pertaining to your interests: Toaccess indices of web based lists, try the Listof Lists at Vivian Neou's Home Page or Listserv database at Tile.net or Martin Bohnet's MailList List.

    Tip Three: Bite the bullet- learn basic html. Contact your local staff development supervisor or an instructional designer. Or take the Crash Course on HTML, or visit the Beginner'sGuide to HTML

    Tip Four: A good sound editor for the PC is CoolEdit. It handles .au and .wav formats. For the MacSound App is available.

    Tip Five: Always pay the shareware fees- they drive the developmentof new shareware.

    Tip Six:Go beyond the basics of email- properly organize you e-mailby creating as many new mailboxes as you need. You can select a group ofmessages and then go to Mailbox-->new to transfer them to a newfolder or you can manually created new mailboxes under the Special menu. To create a nickname, select a piece of mail and assign a nicknameto the sender or senders by selecting "Make Nickname" from the Special menu. Then you can hit "To:" and it will automatically be inserted into a message. You can set up nicknames for individuals orgroups, an ideal way to communicate en masse with groups of students.

    Tip Seven: Keep an eye out for some of the popular Web relatedmagazines that come with a CD ROM full of the latest plug-ins and shareware.It can save you a TON of download time and searching.

    Tip Eight: Learn the advanced search features of your favorite search engine. These instructions are generally access from the fine print on the main page of the search engine. This is especially helpful when youreceive an assignment that you suspect was copied and pasted into a studentpaper without proper references. Web plagiarism abounds, and you can curbi t if you let the student know that YOU know how to find their sources. Even if it's a bluff it will keep some students honest.

    Tip Nine: As an alternative to html, consider AdobeAcrobat. It is a convenient way to distribute forms electronically,as well as larger documents that you need to keep the original formatting.Distributing pdf files is pointless if user has no pdf reader (though theAcrobat Readeris free, it must be downloaded and installed.)

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    Questions or Comments? Contact:Anthony Foster - Senior Instructional Designer

    St. LouisCommunity College - Florissant Valley