Building Your Class Website
The Design Process: Build It
The first step in making your web site is to actually write the programming code for the web pages. Most web pages are written in a simple computer language called Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). This is the language you're going to want to concentrate on at first because it is the easiest of the languages. As you get more advanced, you will want to learn to write in multiple languages to increase the interactivity of your site.
Writing in HTML can be accomplished in one of two ways: the easy way and the hard way. The hard way is learning to code by hand. There are many popular books available that can help you achieve this. It is extremely useful to understand HTML, but if you're just looking to make a small site (50 pages or less), you may want to consider using a graphical web-editor page, which is the easy way. These programs allow you to design a web page in the same way you would use a word processing program to create a document.
The most popular graphical web-editors include Microsoft Frontpage, Adobe GoLive, Macromedia Dreamweaver, and Allaire Homesite. It seems as if everyone has his or her favorite. Each of these programs are powerful in their own right. The TeAch-nology.com staff seem to agree that Macromedia's Dreamweaver is probably the best product. We base this on ease of use and functionality.
If you want make an appealing web site, you may need more than just an editor to get the job done. You may notice that most sites have a very appealing visual look and feel to their sites. This is accomplished by using various programs which manipulate images. The industry standard for graphic design is Adobe's Photoshop. Photoshop is a very difficult program for new comers, not to mention it costs about five hundred dollars. Some very useful replacements that aren't as expensive, but have a good bit of power, include Microsoft's Photodraw and Macromedia's Fireworks. A great deal of teachers that we work with find Microsoft's Photodraw pretty ease to use.
The Design Process: Show It to the World
For some reason a great deal of people seem to think that once you have made an HTML document, your page is on the web. This is not the case. Think of it like any other document. You have to print it out for the world see it! Printing, in the case of the web, involves transferring your HTML document to a web server. Once it's on the server, if you know the address, you can access the page online.
You can get web space free, or if you want your own domain name, you can pay for space on a server. The going rate for the pay services is twenty dollars for one hundred megabytes of space per month. There are plenty of free sites that will host your web site for free including:
Free Servers- http://www.freeservers.com/
Once you have acquired web space, all that is left to do is to transfer the HTML file(s) you made on your computer to the web server that has your reserved space. Most free services provide you with a method for transferring files via their web page. Most paid services ask you to use a transfer file via an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) program. The best known FTP programs include Fetch and WS-FTP. Both are free for download. Using these programs, you can control your computer files and the web server's files at the same time. You can delete, rename, and transfer files between the two computers.
Free Services That Can Help You
There are plenty of free services that give you the ability to design and maintain a web site for your classes. Some of these services are educator-centered and others are for just about anybody. The best thing about these services is that they provide you both with a means for making a web page and provide you with space on an Internet server (so that you can store your pages on the web and publish it for the world).
As with anything free, there is a catch. In return for the free tools and web space, these services post advertising on your web site. The advertising is out of your control. You cannot choose your own domain name. Let's say you want your web address to be www.thelittleschoolonthehill.com. Free services will not support this.
You also lose a great deal of creative control because these services use web layout templates. Your district site will look like the other 40,000 schools on their services. So much for trying to standout and be noticed.
Educator-Oriented Web Page Services:
1. School Notes-http://schoolnotes.com/
SchoolNotes.com complements school websites by allowing teachers to post school information on the world-wide-web without worrying about HTML or FTP because there is no programming required! And best of all, SchoolNotes.com is a free community service!
2. TeAch-nology.com- http://www.teach-nology.com/web_tools/web_site/
Many educators throughout the world have been contacting us. They have expressed interest in learning how to create a web site that can be used with their students. In the true spirit of TeAch-nology.com, we now offer a simple, and most importantly, FREE method that can be used to create your own personal web site.
General Web Services:
1. Homestead.com- http://www.homestead.com/
Homestead is consistently rated the best site for designing your own web page, both in ease of use and power. We definitely agree with critics that this site is easy and powerful. With no web design experience whatsoever, you could have your site up and running within twenty minutes. This site also gives you access to free clip art, animated images, and pre-written java applets that add spunk to your site without taxing your brain.