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November 1, 1996
Vol. 54
No. 3

How Schools Can Create Their Own Web Pages

Schools in New York's Westchester and Rockland counties are creating Web home pages without spending a great deal of money and without a technical staff. Here are several approaches to Web construction.

In Dobbs Ferry, New York, the parent-teacher-student association creates and maintains World Wide Web pages on the Internet. In Eastchester, a middle school computer teacher and his students create Web pages as part of the regular instructional program. In the North Rockland School District, student volunteers create pages after school.
At North Rockland High School, students create an electronic newspaper on the Web. At Farley Middle School, students in grade-level teams describe their research projects. At Haverstraw Middle School, students trace their work on a collaborative electronic project with other schools. The North Rockland Web project also links school and community Web sites; for example, the high school page contains links to the two middle schools and to the county's home page. This networking fosters community involvement—a district goal.
Bedelia Fries, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction, emphasizes the educational value of the students' Web work:Students are using this new technology to develop skills that are critical to their success in their further education and the workplace. They develop their research abilities by using traditional and electronic sources to gather information. They learn to work together as part of a team and make decisions about what should be included on the page. They are given the chance to test their writing skills on audiences that go beyond the school. The motivation to write correctly is especially strong.
Why do students, teachers, and parents make Web pages? Some people want to become technically proficient; others want to get information out to the community. Some students even say they want to work on the Web because "It looks good for college." Very little technical experience is now required to create a home page. Anyone who can use word processing and graphics programs and navigate the Web is capable. Here are several approaches to Web page construction.

Using Commercial Software

The quickest way to create a Web page is to use commercially developed software, such as Pagemaker or Claris Works, which include components for Web page construction. A specialized program, Front Page, was favorably reviewed in PC Computing (Randall 1996). It offers a complete bundle of authoring tools that goes well beyond simply developing a Web page. HAHT Software Inc. of Raleigh, North Carolina, has created Web authoring software, HAHTSite, that lets developers create dynamic Web pages, integrate other applications, and build real-time connections to other systems. And HTML Transit allows users to create templates that convert standard word processing documents into hypertext markup language (HTML) pages that can be published on the Web (Rapoza 1996). Many graphics programs are useful in illustrating Web pages: MicroSoft Paintbrush, Paint Shop, Paint Shop Pro, for example. Scanners and digital cameras are used to import photos into Web pages.

Trying Out Shareware Programs

Another source of help is shareware (free or low cost) programs that you can download from the Internet and use to create home pages. These programs contain many features found in the commercial versions. You can test the shareware and decide whether you want to upgrade. According to Baldazo and Vaughn-Nichols (1995), two of the best are Hot Metal Pro (http://www.sq.com) and HTML Assistant Pro (http://www.brooknorth.com/index.html)

Using an Online Service

Perhaps the easiest way to create a Web page is to use one of the Web-generating programs available from online services, such as America Online, Prodigy, or CompuServe. These services provide software that can be downloaded and used to create home pages that are automatically uploaded onto the service's Web location. Those who choose to publish their pages on Web servers of other independent Internet providers (such as a local network or school net) will need to determine the procedures for uploading pages to that server.

Programming in HTML

  • <HTML>
  • <HEAD>
  • <TITLE> George Washington Middle School </TITLE>
  • </HEAD>
  • <BODY>
  • <PRE>Welcome to our home page.</PRE>
  • </BODY>
  • < /HTML>
Even if you have no programming experience, you can see how HTML is structured. You can probably also see that there must be an easier way—such as using one of the HTML Web-generating tools mentioned previously.
Creating an effective Web page takes creativity, imagination, and attention to detail. As Devra Hall (1995) says, "While you might think of your Web site as your own personal television station, do not make the mistake of viewing the Web as one long commercial, because people will not stay tuned." We have found that even students who begin developing Web pages to impress college admissions officers eventually become engaged with the material—both the technology and the content. Best of all, they also become highly engaged in the teamwork that emerges when students, teachers, and members of the community work together.

Baldazo, R., and S. Vaughn-Nichols. (December 1995). "Web Publishing Made Easier." Byte, pp. 170-175.

Hall, D. (1995). Build a Web Site. Rochlin, Calif.: Prima.

Randall, N. (February 1996). "Web Publishing Made Easy." PC Computing, p. 94.

Rapoza, J. (February 5, 1996). "HTML Transit Doesn't Lose Anything in Translation." PC Week, pp. 26, 27.

Brian Monahan has been a contributor to Educational Leadership.

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