Build it and they will Come: The Efficacy of Creating Standard Websites for all Courses

By B. Louise Hayes.

Published by The Learner Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Since September 2005, a standard course website has been ‘pre-built’ for each of the over 1,000 sections of the annual course offerings of the Atkinson Faculty of York University. The standard website provides a simple, uniform web presence consisting of a course description, the course outline and links to York libraries, technical support, information on examinations and university policies. Automated procedures give students access to the websites. Faculty use tools bundled with the websites to email students and conveniently turn on and off optional features such as announcement postings, content pages, asynchronous discussions, and links to WebCT, publisher websites, and faculty websites. Faculty members also choose which, if any, of the optional features, are restricted to registered students. Over half of the 400 faculty members have opted to ‘turn-on’ at least one of the optional features and have added content, links, or online collaborative functionality to enhance the simple web presence. While the optional features are extensive and robust, the websites are not intended to be a substitute for a learning management system: detailed student tracking is not supported and there are strict limits on the extent to which website navigation and design may be customized. This paper will examine the implications of adopting a standardized approach for website use, faculty workload, infrastructure costs, support, training, reporting and collection of metrics to inform procedures, policies and future website developments. The conclusion reached, based on the Atkinson experience, is that even when learning management systems are used, the benefits of ‘pre-building’ a standard course website for every class far outweigh the costs.

Keywords: E-learning, E-learning Management, Website Design, Learning Management Systems, Online Learning

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 13, Issue 12, pp.185-192. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1013.222KB).

B. Louise Hayes

Lecturer, Atkinson Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Louise Hayes, B.Sc., MBA, CA, teaches accounting to large enrollment distance and on-campus classes in the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies of York University in Toronto, Canada. She draws on both her studies in computer science and her professional experience as a computer audit specialist when adopting emerging classroom and web technologies. Technologies currently enhancing her teaching include (1) digital document camera projections, (2) video streaming (live lectures synchronized with presentation materials, playable and searchable on demand), (3) web conferencing, (4) Acrobat text with embedded multi-media and (5) download and go audio/movie clips formatted for mp3 players and video iPods. She supports the faculty’s e-learning initiatives by serving on faculty and university committees and is a deputy chair of the Discipline Committee of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario.

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