A Checklist for Designing and Evaluating Physical Education Program Web Sites; a Well-Designed Web Site Can Promote a Positive Image of Your Physical Education Program

Article excerpt

The use of the Internet as both an informational and educational tool is increasingly important in schools (Swann, 2006). However, while most schools currently have web sites that inform their communities about what is happening in their various programs (Elliott, Stewart, Stanec, McCollum, & Stanley, 2007), many physical education departments are failing to take advantage of this great resource (Tucker, 2007; Woods, Karp, Hui, & Perlman, 2008), This is occurring despite the fact that improved web-site design capabilities and an increased understanding of specific content for school web sites has generally resulted in more attractive, well-designed, and effective web sites (Barnd & Yu 2002). Furthermore, the increased sophistication of school web sites, including common design templates, has made it easier for various departments within schools to create their own web site and easily post completed files (Swann, 2006). Organizations such as the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE, 2003) and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS, 2003) have emphasized the importance of school web-site development by including standards specifying that physical education teachers should be able to demonstrate current knowledge in web-site design. Well-designed physical education web sites promote a positive image of a program and allow students and parents to find answers to commonly asked questions about the policies and procedures in physical education classes (Baker, 2001; LeMaster, 2000).

Because of the small percentage of physical education departments that appear to have quality web sites, there is a need to educate physical education teachers about how to design one (Tucker, 2007; Woods et al., 2008). Barnd and Yu (2002) have provided an outline for creating effective web sites based on Mok's (1996) web-page-design guidelines known as the "4Cs design model," which consists of content, control, consistency, and corroboration. Those who create, modify, or assess web sites should be aware of all four aspects of this model.

Content

Content is the actual words and information that are placed on a web site. A physical education web site should include comprehensive information about the department, as well as teacher contact information to facilitate and increase the lines of communication between parents and teachers in order to improve parents' involvement in their children's education (Wilkinson & Schneck, 2003). Teachers can provide a large amount of information relating to fitness, health, and physical activities that can assist in student learning. A well-designed physical education web site can entice students to continually revisit it and encourage them to increase their physical activity. Ultimately, a physical education department web site should help students to learn how to take control of their own health (Elliot et al., 2007).

Miller, Adsit, and Miller (2005) created a checklist of common items found in school web sites and conducted a survey of users to determine the importance of each item. Many of the items they listed are applicable to a physical education web site, including a mission statement, rules and policies, curriculum standards, teacher information, homework, calendar of activities, links for parents, links for students, student work samples, and the school's street address. Contact information is very important because it facilitates communication with parents and others outside the school community. A teacher information section that includes a picture of each teacher with his or her name and contact information, and a brief biography listing education, affiliations, certifications, awards, and hobbies is a good way to show that the teachers are qualified (Miller et al, 2005). The teacher information section initiates a friendly and positive relationship with the web site users. The school name, address, and phone number provide contact information and inform the random reader where that specific school physical education department is located. …