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2 Making, linking and using Web materials

2.1 Website basics

Figure 2 shows the home page of the course site which has been developed by Frank Stephen and colleagues at Strathclyde University for first-year economics.

Figure 2. The Strathclyde Econ 101 home page

This uncluttered, readable site is made up of several documents linked from the navigation bar at the top of the page. A wide variety of information is included, some of it administrative, some focused on specific lectures or assignments, including:

Some 99 per cent of surveyed students found this site 'useful' and 80 per cent made use of the multiple-choice quizzes on the textbook site, according to a 2002 private communication from colleague Peter McGregor.

In principle any kind of file can be put online, including spreadsheets, mathematical workbooks, documents and images. Students can download these from their browser and open them using the relevant packages on their own computer. Much of the content of the Strathclyde site is in Word and PDF files, for example. HTML (HyperText Mark-up Language) files glue these all together and encode the site's internal and external links.

These HTML files are essentially structured text files. They can be created with word-processor-like packages such as Macromedia Dreamweaver and Adobe Go Live, which can be purchased at an educational discount, or with many free tools of varying quality. We do not recommend using Microsoft software, such as the 'Save as HTML' feature in Word. The files so created can be many times larger than necessary, and reinforce Microsoft's near-monopoly by working imperfectly with other software.

Top Tip

However you make your Web pages, it is a good idea to make a template with the general look and layout you want, and then create individual pages by pasting text and links into this.

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2.2 Ready-made sites