by W. Ian O'Byrne
How well do you create and cultivate your online presence? As literacy increasingly moves from page to screen, it is important for teachers to not only reflect these changes in pedagogy and practice, but also our online identity. We wouldn’t enter our classrooms hastily or shabbily dressed, but often times this same thought does not go into how we present ourselves online.
One method that can be used to build, modify, and maintain our online presence is to revise our classroom website. I ask teachers to consider three areas when reviewing their classroom website. First, what is the purpose of the information you present at your website? Why is the information there, and what do you expect your audience to do with it? Second, who is the intended audience of your website? Is the information you present appropriate for the purpose and audience? Third, what design elements are used to attend to the desired purpose, or intended audience? These design elements can include the words, images, videos, and links added to the webpage. They can also include aesthetic elements of web design that affect the usability of the webpage, such as the layout of the webpage.
An example of these three points in action can be seen at Mrs. Renz’s website for her classroom in Redmond, OR (www.mrsrenz.net). The purpose of the website is to act as an information resource, but also provide some interactivity to attract online readers. The website also offers three “pathways” for visitors (Just For Students, Just For Parents, Just For Teachers). This design element ensures that the intended audience receives the appropriate information. Finally, the subsequent pages of the website are organized using animated images that make it easier for the audience to quickly navigate through. The end result is an engaging, interactive website that adds to Mrs. Renz’s online presence. W. Ian O'Byrne is an assistant professor in the Department of Education at the University of New Haven.