Tuesday, November 22, 2005

WEBSTYLE GUIDE online Insights:

I just finished reading the webstyle guide...I liked it in general...some parts dull and did not address concerns in the K-12 educational field in regards to webdesign for students and classrooms.

Items I might add to or change about my IT 486 website:
  • My name as creator of the site along with the publication date of the site.
  • An input section instead of a link at the bottom of the page...maybe...maybe just move the link.
  • I'd love to know how to make a PRINT VERSION button and how this would work...this would be great for those students who work on the computers in the city library. If you know...I'm leaving the COMMENTS section up on this post....I want to know how! Link me to resources if you need to! (I've been working in Dreamweaver.)
  • Adding state learning standards...they are my "planning partners" afterall!
  • Linking my developed instructional site to my classroom homepage PRIOR to use to get some "unsolicited" input.

What I liked about the webstyle site:
  • The watchfire link was interesting....it could come in handy down the road!
  • Chapter 4 was the most beneficial....

Friday, November 04, 2005

Recent Work:

Well, I'm on cruisin' mode...I've figured out the lesson for the design phase of my site and I published the "Your Journey" section...I'm pretty happy with it. I took a suggestion from one of the other students and decided how to include any teachers in the process...(Teacher Tips) I really would like these to be "popable" but I can't figure it out in dreamweaver. I only have 10 more days to publish using my free trial so I'll be speeding along in the next week! I must finish! (Otherwise, Melissa, I've gotta come to the lab!)

My focus now is on completing the "facts" sections. The most difficult part is finding resources I can use that are copywrite free...ugh!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Conceptual Model:

Instructional Site:
My conceptual model for my instructional site is that of a "file folder". There are tabs for each of the main sections and within those "tabs" are the "papers" the students will need to either research or complete a project. Like a large file cabinet, all of the tabs are always visible so that you know where else you might need to look...HEY! This blogger is set up like this too! (I just noticed that...subconsciencely did I notice this before?) My inside pages are set up a little differently though. ;)

Professional Site:
I liked the idea of the site shown in class but really wanted to do circles (I'm a circle person). At the time, I have barely started into IT so my content is lacking...so is the concept...for right now, the four square is working (that's one of the models we use to instruct students in writing..so it's comfortable for me). I think this will change once I know what my content will be.

To avoid Errors:

Instructional Site:
Having the tabs accessable all the time helps to cut down on errors. Users can go back and forth within different files easily and all of the Main Ideas are hotlinked so that they can be accessed.

Professional Site:
I'm keeping some elements of the home page of the professional site on each of the additional pages. Access is availabe between each of the additional pages and the home page. So far this seems ok..again, more content, this might change.

The Organizing Principle:

Instructional Site:
Using the File Folder model and tabs accessable at all times increases the likeliness that students will be able to move from Research to Application and back and forth between them easily. In addition, I have organized the site from left to right in "time", the way I want the users (students) to work through the site. I like the idea in chapter 7 about having someone "sight out" the page and indicate what information is being viewed. This might be a good idea to help those stuck with their organization for their site.

Professional Site:
The users of this site are very different from the users of my instructional site. Each user will have a different direction which they will want to go. Therefore, the concept of using boxes or circles will be effective because no matter which route the user chooses, they can all find "their" route the most important. The only thing that I have thought about in this design that is more definite is the idea of grouping the personal on one side and the professional on the other...the side bar is also another tool that helps draw the users to the areas that they need.
Chapter 7: The Surface Plane

Of course, this is my favorite topic! So much that I have to be careful not to get carried away. I want an interesting site, but my heart of hearts tells me that too much is not good for the learning...for example, this past week, I tried out different "headers"; quilt backgrounds, natural "cottons", color patterns etc. None seemed to work as well as what I am using now. Why! I want a PRETTY site! I really know of course that it does not make the page more functional if the header is a quilt background, it must be read and understood. So, back to the topic, the surface plane is a toughy for those of us without commercial art background. As I will mention in the next "blog" about my orginational principals etc., I planned and am using color to create contrasts that draw my viewer into certain areas of the site. HOWEVER, one of my evaluators last class suggested other "personalities" to profile for my site...it wasn't intended for them...but in all fairness, that is what I was thinking of doing much later down the line...when the other users are included in my profile, I'm not sure how this design will change...a new "tab", a transparent of the others, an entirely new "folder"? These are problems for another day.
One of the nice things I'm trying to "remember" and incorporate as I produce this site are ideas of balance, (not symetry) and palette, in which I stick to only a few choicen colors and little variations of these main colors. Like I mentioned earlier, I wasted a lot of time by fiddling around with different palettes, only to find it was not getting me anywhere! When it comes to typography...I learned a long time ago that the fonts you have may not be the fonts your user has so don't go crazy.
I love the idea of a creating a written out style guide...

We really should have read all of this in the first two weeks...THEN really got our sites started! I know more now and have little time to change the whole thing!
Work Day 10/17
During the week I had downloaded the free trial of Dreamweaver...it was a three steps forward, two steps back work time. I kept "losing" my pages because older pages I had created and thought that I had deleted, kept returning and replacing my new pages. I'm really happy with the framework and skeleton features of my web page but am spending a TON of my time working on the content...my own fault... because I've moved to a new position, this unit hasn't and won't be taught by me until April...so I must research, read, and reinvent the wheel...but most importantly, I can find "free" resources to use on my site so I am creating my own. UGGGHH! Now I am working on the "My Journey" section because it is not research but lesson and is a bit easier to work on. I have 19 more days of my freeware then I will be going CRAZY!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Chapter 6: The Skeleton Plane

I think that so far, this has been the chapter that fits me best! I had created a "wireframe" two weeks ago and have been primarily working on it verses working online. I like the comfort and security of messing up on paper as compared to messing up online. I took advantage of a copier and made many copies of my basic "wireframe" so that each page has that consistency. Like the author suggests, Wayfinding, has been a tool I have been using. Color has been my main "Wayfinding" tool. Because my site is about quilts of the past, I will eventually be adding prints to correlate with the color scheme used to "tie" the pages together. The idea of having too much metaphor is hard for me though. I can see where this would become confusing, but I really like metaphors! My new goal...incorporate a drop down? I can see where it would/could be used...if it fits in my plans, I’ll try it!
This chapter was much better about the business stuff! Educational sites have such different purposes...the book doesn’t really address audience as well as it should. (Chapter 3 discussed it but hasn’t really applied it’s results). I’ve been really critical of the sites I go to lately, and I’ve noticed that what the students find as useful, I have no need for...I can’t wait to test drive a more complete site with my students!
Chapter 5: The Structure Plane

Everything in this chapter makes sense, but depending on your purpose and background, you will need or apply more or less of this to your web development. For instance, I teach 5th grade, and my site will be read by 5th graders...from what I’ve noticed on the blogs, I’m pretty much out there on my own. If you don’t speech 5th gradeze, you won’t get the site. Same is true with me trying to find purpose in some of the other sites. Our profiles fit our sites, not our classmates, so those "thesauruses" that we use will be very different. In addition, I’ve never worked on anything that I didn’t take from a top down approach...that’s the way I function, so in my mind, that’s the only way to look at this site. I did like the idea of the Matrix structure and if I had more time....no kids...no job...all the resources in the world....oh,....and I got paid extra..........

I’m beginning to feel like the reading should have been assigned weeks before I got to were I am now...I’m not really good at changing things once I really get going and like what I’m doing. Most of the information in this chapter seemed very "common sense". Like we don’t already know that the site must have repetitive or common features/language to help it move smoothly? Anyone who uses the web on a regular basis can figure this out. I really felt like most of this chapter was old news, and repetitive.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

October 3rd Work Time Summary:

Monday evening I worked on both of my sites...I do not have any webconstruction software at home, so I worked at school. It took about 30-45 minutes for me to really feel like I was making any headway (I had to re-aquaint myself with Dreamweaver). I think I saved info in someone else's files too! (OOps!) After 3 1/2 hours, I have created the "space" for all my components of both sites, linked these "spaces" together, and devised a "frame" to fill on many of the pages (primarily the instructional site). I'm glad I took the time to do this all at once, now I really feel like I have the structure and am more focused on the contact aspect of each site. It is very frustrating working with unfamiliar software by yourself though. Like I mentioned before, I wasted a lot of time just goofing up with silly mistakes that had simple answers. If I didn't have some background with coding, I would have never made ANY progress!

Monday, October 03, 2005

Instructional Site Persona:
student; 10 year old; female
Little to none computer skills
No computer in the home
Low income household
B Average student
Limited teacher-student-parent communication (Shy student and non-involved family)

student; 13 year old; male
“Net-navy” and computer experienced
Computer in the home with internet access
(all family members experienced with computer use)
Upper-lower class household
B average student
Personal interest in history and warplay

student; 11 year old; male
Average computer skills- word processing, mainly gaming
Computer in home with internet access (webgames)
Middle-lower class household
Low reader with C-D averages
Low motivation and low interest in school

Strategy Document/Professional Site:

The site objectives are: 1.To provide access to administration and other educational professional concerned with educational programing and new technology to be effectively used to enhance students learning and assist in development of lessons in effort to help meet standards in the classroom.

The user needs for the professional site are: 1. Must effectively communicate and demonstrate the skills and technology I have learned throughout my instruction. 2. must be easily understood and navagated smoothly between sections (pages) 3. Must contain information that shows growth in professional career.

Professional Site Persona:
“Mr. Onion”
teacher; 30s; Male
Computers used as reference tools to education (word processing and internet skill)
Computers used at home for preparation of lessons
Lower-middle class background
Attends Graduate classes in Administration
Interests include reading and seeking novel ways to enhance his classroom and current job.

“Ms. Pickles”
Associate Professor; 40s; female
Strong background in technology
Works part-time as media specialist for large school district
Computers used frequently for personal/everyday operations.
Middle class background
Teaches grad classes in Instructional Technology
Interests include “playing with new tech gadgets” and using cutting edge techniques in
web development

“Professor Olive”
Dean of Education Department; 50-60s; male
Computers used for a variety of educational and professional purposes
Oversees and evaluates education professionals
Upper-middle class background
Advises grad and undergrad students in education
Looks for “standards-driven” work in student projects.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Chapter 4: The Scope Plane (E. of U.E.)
Pros: If I'm following this correctly, the "scope plane" as defined by Garrett, helps me to set out the functions of the site that I want to utilize (kind of like picking the tools I have to use before I begin to craft). In addition, the "content requirements" seem to be all the fact gathering and background checking that I have been doing lately.

Applications of this chapter (The Scope Plane) in my site development thus far are as follows:
Function Requirements:
  • I will use Dreamweaver Software to produce my "instructional" site.
  • Students, teachers, and others will be able to navigate between essentially 4 areas: Background of site; Pioneer Quilting and Heritage; Quilts of the Underground Railroad; and a project development area.
  • As of right now, the site's intended audience are 5th grade students, however, I would like to see growth in the site in form of a more extensive teacher's version of all 4 sections (possibly as a mirrored site).
Content Requirements:
  • Extensive background on quilting patterns and their associations for each focus group, Pioneer and Slave, will be needed.
  • Photo graphs will be needed of each step in completion of blocks to be produced by students. (Both reproduction blocks and student's own "Journey" blocks.)
  • Step by step in photographs to begin with, later with development, inclusion of Java work could be included.
  • Clipart visuals of historical documents or portraits appropriate for the topic must be secured.
  • Compiled research links will also be included.

Cons: I read this chapter 3 times and each time found the language repetitive and hard to apply to my particular purposes! I guess my "stakeholders" are the ISBE (standards), school curriculum and adminstration, students and their parents as well as any other teachers that may use my site. Other than that, I really found this chapter hard to get into.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Chapter 3: (E. of U. E.) The Strategy Plane

Pros: This chapter just validified many ideas I had been working around in my "plan". Such as: I have already had a few students in my classroom comment on the surface and skeleton layers and we've talked about the usability. I've asked them about sites that they like...and what really catches their attention. There are about 5 students with slightly different "personas" that I can get reliable information from, so I plan to use them more! Also, there are some students from previous years who I have planned to "test drive" the site once more info has been posted.
I also want to put a counter on the different aspects of my site (which pages are more valuable?) and wish I could find the way to measure how often the links (which links?) are being utilized.

Strategy Document:

The site objectives are: 1: to inform students of the roles home arts (then utilitarian) had in the travels and "journeys" (changes in lifestyle and living) of both early pioneers to the west and the slaves following the underground railroad 2: to guide the students as they produce their own "journey" quilts and writings.

The user needs that I've identified so far are: 1: readability and clarity (must fit the reading levels of my students) 2: ease in transition from information segments to activity portions 3: must not be sole means of aquiring information to formulate product (less than 1/2 my students have computers that have internet access for their use at home) but instead offer guidance, information, and support for growth and expansion of knowledge beyond the classroom.

Cons: O.K., the business end is really bugging me...I am constantly changing words in the text to fit my needs (the "Juli" Thesarus).

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Thoughts on webproduction:
I'm planning a web centered around the historical aspects of quilting in both pioneer life and connected with the underground railroad. Both of these historic bases involve interpreting one's journey and so the instruction will focus on this as the students are led to produce their own "Journey Quilts".

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Chapter 2: (E. of U. E.): Meet the Elements (by Jesse J. Garrett)

Pros: Even in my beginning "web" lessons for students, I’ve discussed with them the underlining structure of a website and how important the planning is. But, I really love the visual for this chapter! I’m essentially a visual learner so the entire presentation of the website visual, from introducing the icons to the follow up in different domains really appeals to me. Again, I find this useful...only one suggestion:

Cons: I need an empty! I now am going to have to create a "worksheet" for myself based on this visual so that I can plan and build my site of line (again, a visual learner...must work on paper first!) If I read on to the end of this text and find out that Garrett has created a template on his website that I can easily download and print multiple copies out for my convenience, I’m going to be upset...So, until then, I’ll be working on my paper planner.
Chapter 1: Elements of User Experience: User Experience and Why It Matters (by Jesse J. Garrett)

Pros: I really like the analogy of the day's experiences...it really helped put the whole "User End" thing in perspective. I think I could use this analogy to help others at my school make better web sites. As part of our school's tech plan, teachers should make and use web sites. We primarily use "teacherweb.com" as our form, but still, a lot of the teachers have confusing sites...something to think about.

Also, I'm already thinking how this "new" perspective can help me build my site for the "assignment". My beginnings are humble, but not usable, definitely not "user-friendly" yet...I'll be bringing up this again and again as I redesign my site.

Cons: I hope that somewhere in this book the writer addresses educational sites. I am not composing for a "business" nor do I want to "sell" anything...o.k. I want students to use successfully, and as he(Garrett) suggests, to make them not feel stupid trying to use my site. But still, I'm tired of the business-end language used in this book already.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Ok...is this going to post? I'm really not sure...just test driving today!