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Website Analysis and Reflection Essay

Kristy R. Van Guilder


EDTC620 9040 Technology in K-12 Education:
Synchronous, Asynchronous and Multimedia Technologies
University of Maryland University College

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Website Analysis and Reflection Essay- Introduction
Approximately one year ago I began the journey to create a functional classroom
website that would benefit my students and their families as well as myself. As I have
progressed through the UMUC Instructional Technology Graduate Program, I have added
to the original website with the understanding that the initial site design was not only
sufficient but also efficient. After reading Lynch & Hortons Web Style Guide I realized
that I had neglected to entirely consider a very important factor with my initial design, the
potential audience that my website would serve. Unknowingly, I had eliminated the
ability to reach out and share with fellow educators.
Website Design - Images
My original classroom website had contained a variety of images from my travels
and experiences throughout the Spanish Speaking World. However, upon review I
realized these images were decorative and the website lacked powerful images that would
promote interest and expand upon the introduction of a topic to further enhance student
learning. The inclusion of images and visuals have now advanced student learning by
visually introducing various aspects of a problem and presenting a powerful and engaging
method of introducing a topic. Each image added was altered and enhanced through the
use of Canva, free simple online graphic design software. Altering images permitted me
to provide focus to important aspects of a photo as well as add text to enhance visual
images.
Advance K-12 Student Learning
With the requirements of the EDTC 620 class, I have designed a multi page unit,
which includes powerful images and technology that advances student learning with a

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real world collaborative problem-solving project. The environmental challenges unit
was designed for a Spanish 4 or higher level classroom and included videos and authentic
text in Spanish that permit students access to higher level vocabulary and concepts that
are affecting the Spanish speaking world. Included in the unit are cloze listening
activities, graphic organizers and various assessments to further student understanding of
the content and permit students to demonstrate content knowledge through interpretive,
presentational and interpersonal activities.
I designed the unit with the Probe Method Steps, as outlined by Dr. Glenn
Shepherd, which begins with providing students readings, exercises and assignments
related to the unit of study and continues through teacher led and small group
discussions. (2010) Through technology students then create a presentation of data
related to the topic and ultimately demonstrate their solutions to the real world problem
as a form of assessment. In his article Mears states constructivists advocate hands-on
learning that is based on real world situations or student experiences as well as
bottomless inquiry where students explore deep, endless connections to curriculum topics
based on their own motivations. (2010) Through the use of the Probe Method I feel that
I have been able to design a unit that is aligned with Ronald Mears ideas of
Constructivism.
Website Evaluation
My newly revised website contains information for my students, parents and
fellow educators. The website includes links to previously designed web quests lessons
that further student learning through real world authentic problem based activities. The
website design and layout has been organized and redesigned to provide better

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functionality in site navigation throughout. According to Lynch and Horton, effective
navigation in design allows web site users to interact with the content on the website
through a method referred to as wayfinding. (1999) The main menu bar that I have
created across the website permits the viewer to orient themselves to the different topics
included in the site. Each choice on the menu bar contains subtopics that can be viewed
from the main page so that the viewer can gather an overall glimpse of what is included
in the site. Each page of the website includes button links which take the viewer to the
following page, previous page and the site home page. I felt it was also important to
keep the font styles and sizes uniform on each page. The focus on each page is of
pertinent information for viewers and content. These elements are noted as important
aspects of effective web design. (Stone, 2009)
Conclusion
Throughout the redesign of my website and the construction of the environmental
challenges unit, I learned that simplicity and the use of quality authentic content was
most effective to my learners. The available material I found on the Internet was
enormous and although I could have included a larger variety of text and videos for
student content learning, this would have overwhelmed my students and led to a lack of
focus on the overall lesson goal that I had designed. I have learned that by streamlining
my lesson resources the goals can be met and allow more class time to be used for
student discussion and collaborative activities. This can also be an additional opportunity
for students to personalize the instruction and the problem solving aspect of the unit.
As I reflect upon all I have learned through this project, I realize that I have a
deeper understanding of how best to reach people through an effective well designed

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website. Through this class, I have gained greater understanding of the application of
constructivism in my design of authentic real world problem based units. Both the
newly designed website and increased knowledge and application of constructivism will
further advance my teaching of content to my students as well as permit me to reach
parents and the larger community of educators.

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References

Stone, John. 2009, October 25. 20 Dos and Donts of Effective Web Design.
Retrieved from: http://webdesignledger.com/20-dos-and-donts-of-effective-web-design
Mears, R. (2010). The overlap of constructivism and critical media literacy:
The cognitive processes of learning with technology. Retrieved
From http://artpracticeasresearch.wikischolars.columbia.edu/file/view/AACE09.doc
Shepherd, G. (2010). The probe method: A constructivist instructional strategy.
In Meridian: A Middle School Computer Technologies Journal, 13(1). Retrieved from
http://www.ncsu.edu/meridian/winter2010/shepherd/03.htm
Lynch, P, Horton, S. (1999). Web style guide: basic design principles for creating web
sites. New Haven: Yale University Press. Web Style Guide, 3rd Edition. Retrieved
November 22, 2015, from http://www.webstyleguide.com/