Focus on Web Authoring

##AUTHORSPLIT##<--->As the Internet becomes integrated into education, more teachers, schools and students are making their Web presence felt. Be it a school Web site, a classroom homepage or posting an assignment online, everybody is getting involved. Of course, anyone who uses the Internet knows that design and usability are very important. With the right tools, educators can create all kinds of exciting online learning experiences. This month’s Focus On looks at Web authoring tools. We begin with a program that teaches the basics and helps newcomers enter the world of Web design.

 

Before jumping into Web page design and development, the first step for many will be to learn a little something about it. Savant Interactive’s four CD-ROM tutorial, webSavant, can help you do just that. The program uses in-depth QuickTime demonstrations to take users through all steps of Web design. Over 11 hours of instruction are spread over 130 lessons. Each lesson is roughly five minutes in length and is a mix of instructional narration and real-time demonstrations.

 

Suitable for all skill levels, webSavant starts out with a basic introduction to the Internet and works up through things like writing HTML, page layout, frames, Web video and audio, JavaScript, CGI scripts, publishing PDF files, Flash and more. It is designed in such a way that more experienced designers can pick and choose lessons they want to utilize and aren’t forced to begin at
the beginning. Every topic covered in the training movies is cross-referenced in an alphabetical index. The package also includes hundreds of sample files and comes bundled with demos of the software and shareware tools that are covered in the lessons.

 

Once you’ve learned the basics, the following programs can help educators and students create everything from Web sites to online courses. Best of all, they let you do it in style.

 

Putting training and tools together, Macromedia offers the 2000 edition of Web Design 101. The package provides teachers with professionally designed curricula and trial versions of Macromedia’s Director, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Flash and FreeHand. These can be used to create content for the Web or to teach Web design to students.

 

For less experienced users, Flash 4 is equipped with a great tutorial that will take new designers through everything from designing images to creating animations for the Web. Fast becoming a Web standard, Flash lets you easily design and reliably deliver unique, high-quality sites to all browsers. Users will find that incorporating things like vector graphics, bitmaps, MP3 audio, form input, motion and interactivity is easier than they thought.

 

Also from Macromedia comes CourseBuilder for Dreamweaver, an extension to Dreamweaver 3 that aids in creating interactive Web-based learning applications. It facilitates the quick and cost-effective authoring of engaging learning material without the need for programming knowledge. CourseBuilder extends the functionality of Dreamweaver with more than 40 pre-built learning interactions. These include editable multiple choice, true or false and fill-in-the-blank questions and answers. The CourseBuilder interactions, built using HTML and JavaScript, create Web-native content that allows courses to be delivered in most browsers on both Windows and Macintosh platforms.

 

Knowledge Adventure’s SiteCentral is a Web creation tool designed for classroom use in grades 3 and up. It enables students and teachers to learn the fundamentals of designing, assembling and posting pages on the Internet. An easy interface allows them to concentrate on content and communication skills, rather than on the technical details of HTML programming.

 

The extremely user-friendly environment of the program lets teachers and students drag and drop each Web page element and special effect into place. It includes an extensive resource library of templates, sounds, graphics and animated gifs. Since the program supports HyperStudio stacks, students can import their HyperStudio projects during the site creation process. SiteCentral’s output is consistent on all browsers, and no additional software is needed for graphics effects or to post sites. Included in the program are numerous special graphic effects, decorative fonts, and 100 ready-made, education-oriented templates. It is available for Windows and PowerMacintosh.

 

For inexperienced Web authors looking for a higher level of design capability, Microsoft’s Publisher 2000 is a good place to start. A desktop publishing program with Web design capabilities, Publisher has lots of high quality, easy-to-use templates and wizards with which to design your Web site. With functionality similar to other Microsoft Office products, you’ll find it easy to cut and paste a Web site together. Once a site is constructed, the program makes it very easy to save to HTML and publish to the Web.

 

More accomplished designers will appreciate the functionality of Microsoft’s FrontPage 2000. A standard in Web site creation, it can be used to create professional-looking sites that are consistent across all pages. It also lets users import and edit HTML as they like. Internet or intranet Web site management is made simple, so it is possible to easily monitor the condition of a site and make updates. FrontPage automatically fixes hyperlinks when files are renamed or moved, and 13 new management reports summarize the status of a site at a glance. Veterans of Web design can quickly author in HTML view by using buttons and menu items.

 

To ease the learning curve for educators working Java, Holt Software has introduced Ready to Program with Java Technology, a simplified Java programming environment for schools. It d'esn’t have the large computer memory requirements that hinder the teaching of Java in many educational institutions. Most Java products contain a complexity of features that are confusing to beginning programmers. This program, however, provides a less complex environment that supports the learning of fundamental computer science concepts and allows students to begin programming immediately. Ready to Program with Java Technology is available for free download from IBM’s Web site to registered members of the IBM e-business Technology Academic Program. It is also provided free of charge in Holt Software’s Java textbook, Introduction to Programming in Java.

 

Trainersoft.com’s new online authoring software, Trainersoft Version 6.0, enables educators to quickly and easily create online learning materials that can be accessed by any browser, on any platform, without additional plug-ins. The program can also create CD-ROM and network-based training.

 

With Trainersoft’s Single Source feature, course materials get the same look and feel, whether using HTML on the Web or executables on CD-ROM or networks. It also includes HTML-based testing features, so that tests can be created with randomized questions and answers. Access Manager controls course access without using complex databases. Other features include: course and page wizards, an effects feature for incorporating flying images and text, Web Widgets that allow users to include Java effects without scripting, support for most common streaming media, and Web windows that enable users to view multiple Web pages simultaneously.

 

Finishing out this month’s Focus On is a tool that faculty familiar with using Microsoft PowerPoint or Word can use to build an online course. The new version of eCollege.com’s eTeaching Solutions provides a suite of Internet tools to guide educators through online course authoring. Available for download from eCollege.com, these tools allow educators using Office 2000 to easily transfer their courses to the Web without knowledge of HTML.

 

Instructors can control the look and feel of online course content with simple point and click functions and automatic HTML coding. The Visual Editor component allows for complete formatting and editing of text, creation of tables and incorporation of images into online courseware. Interoperability with Office 2000 allows instructors to upload existing Office documents directly into their online course shells. The documents are automatically converted to HTML, so students can easily access course materials from any browser.

 

 

 

—Jim Schneider

  jschneider@thejournal.com

 

Contact Information

 

webSavant

Savant Interactive, Inc.

Chicago, IL

(773) 975-2460

www.websavant.com

 

Web Design 101

Flash 4

CourseBuilder for Dreamweaver

Macromedia

San Francisco, CA

(800) 457-1774

www.macromedia.com

 

SiteCentral

Knowledge Adventure

Torrance, CA

(800) 545-7677

www.knowledgeadventure.com

 

Publisher 2000

FrontPage 2000

Microsoft Corp.

Redmond, WA

(425) 882-8080

www.microsoft.com

 

Ready to Program with Java Technology

Holt Software

Toronto, Ontario

(800) 361-8324

www.holtsoft.com

 

 

Trainersoft 6.0

Trainersoft.com Corp.

Cary, NC

(800) 561-2098

www.trainersoft.com

 

eTeaching Solutions

eCollege.com

Denver, CO

(888) 884-7325

www.ecollege.com

This article originally appeared in the 05/01/2000 issue of THE Journal.

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