"High Fives" for U.S. High Schools: Web Sites That Sing!

Article excerpt

In each issue of MULTIMEDIA SCHOOLS, VOICES OF THE WEB will highlight exemplary school Web sites that demonstrate exemplary content and how the Web promotes new communities of learners. Each issue will focus on different types of school Web sites--e.g., elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, school-based publications, and international schools. Schools selected have been evaluated using the VOICES methodology described in the adjacent sidebar. Please send your suggestions and comments to Kathy Rutkowski, whose address appears at the end of this section.

[Editor's note: URLs for all Web sites mentioned in this article appear in the Web Honor Roll, page 80.]

High school students are putting the adult world on notice that they are not a lost or silent generation. They are pathfinders eager to explore both virtual and real worlds and ready, willing, and able to make a significant difference in both. High school students have created outstanding Web pages that could well be the envy of Madison Avenue or Silicon Valley.

Statistically, high schools continue to outnumber elementary and middle school Web sites. Currently, secondary schools account for over 59 percent of all the U.S. school Web sites registered on the International Registry of School Webs (http://Web66.coled.umn.edu/schools/stats/stats.html). Here is a sampling of the cream of the crop among high school Web sites:

THE ILLINOIS MATH AND SCIENCE ACADEMY

In 1993, The Illinois Math and Science Academy (IMSA) was the first school to launch a Web site. A creation of both students and faculty, this exemplary Web site reflects the basic philosophy and primary mission of this school. It reflects a community of ethical, inquiring learners "who know the joy of discovering and forging connections within and among mathematics, science, the arts, and the humanities." It provides a wealth of online content, including guides and tools for Web custodians, curriculum ideas, and electronic resources for teachers. A catalog of teaching ideas, print and electronic resources identified by course and instructor, and a library research page are among its useful offerings. It provides school documents on ethics--school policies, standards, and the computer and network honor code. Like many other sites, it also contains information about the school: organizations, personnel and planning, the school calendar, academic teams and classes on the Web.

The IMSA Web (see Figure 1) site is simple, clean, and highly functional. You can choose between a table or non-table design. Graphics are used sparingly, which reduces download time. Useful navigation aids are prominently displayed on each page to facilitate navigation. The IMSA Web team is clearly interested in effective communication. The IMSA Web has a powerful voice that seeks to educate, inform, and inspire. [Editor's note: three IMSA students were recipients of the 1996 Student Technology Leadership Award presented at NECC, June 1996. See September/October MULTIMEDIA SCHOOLS, pp. 7-9.]

School VOICES of the Web

An Evaluation Methodology

VOICES is an evaluation methodology for school-produced Web sites. The key, equallyweighted criteria are:

Vision: How well is the fundamental purpose or purposes of the Web site articulated and implemented?

Originality: How original are the technical tool kit and technical design elements? How original is the content? How different is this Web site in terms of partnerships, collaboration, and interactive elements?

Integrity: How fully integrated are the design, content, technical, and vision components? How well does the site as a whole serve to advance a unified vision or create a new learning community or experience?

Community: How effective is the site in facilitating new communication, encouraging new collaborations, and building connections, internally, externally, or in combination? …