Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

Critical Design Factors of Developing a High-Quality Educational Website: Perspectives of Pre-Service Teachers

Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

Critical Design Factors of Developing a High-Quality Educational Website: Perspectives of Pre-Service Teachers

Article excerpt

Introduction

With the development of web technologies, numerous educational websites have been created. Academics also work hard to explore related strategies of making use of websites to support learning and teaching (Lee & Tsai, 2010). An educational website can be regarded as an electronic platform to store resources for facilitating educational purposes. Whether the presentation of information and the design of website can enhance learning or support teaching is a challenging and important issue. In the literature, quality checkers, criteria, guidelines and principles on web design were suggested to improve the quality of developing general purpose websites (Farkas & Farkas, 2000; Ivory & Hearst, 2002; Zaphiris, Ghiawadwala, & Mughal, 2005). However, the design of an educational website demands further considerations on its unique nature to support learning. Some studies (C-M. Hsu, Yeh, & Yen, 2009; Y-C. Hsu, 2006; Hwang, Huang, & Tseng, 2004; Large, Beheshti, & Rahman,, 2002; Shee & Wang, 2008) attempted to explore criteria for designing educational website. However, recommendations suggested from these studies mainly based on opinions from students. Few studies addressed the judgment from teachers. In fact, teachers play a dominant role to support students' learning and are always responsible for selecting learning resources, including materials over the Internet, for students. The discussion on creating educational websites is inadequate if opinions from teachers are neglected. According to this line of thought, it is important to put teachers' view into consideration for developing high-quality educational websites. To achieve the purpose, this paper reports a study which was conducted to explore critical design factors of developing a high-quality educational website from teachers' point of view.

Literature Review

This section attempts to discuss the difficulties concerning the design of an educational website. To follow with, web design principles suggested by academics to create general purpose websites and educational websites are reviewed. The issue arisen on the need to put teachers' views into consideration on educational web design is elaborated at the end of this section.

Difficulties with Educational Web Design

Many web development tools have been developed as technologies advanced. Commercial software and freeware are available for creating website. Some word processing software also allow users to save contents into web page format. It is no longer a difficult task to create a general purpose website. However, does it mean that people can develop high-quality educational websites to support learning and teaching?

The process of web design demands knowledge and skills in various domains. From communication point of view, a website is an electronic media to convey information. Web designers are required to appropriately integrate words, graphics and other multimedia elements for creating an effective communication with target users. Web designer is expected to have certain level of understanding on communication theory. For example, in Burch's (2001) article, it explored the communications issues in web-based distance education and discussed related web design considerations. Geissler, Zinkhan, and Watson (2001) also conducted a study on web page complexity and further suggested that communication effectiveness is related to web page complexity.

From aesthetic point of view, a website is required to be appealing so as to attract target users to explore the website. It involves the consideration on the use of color, texture, graphics and the design of page layout. Research found that most users' first impression on a website was the impression of beauty (Schenkman & Jonsson, 2000). During the first few seconds of interaction, users make the decision on whether or not to continue navigating the website (Tractinsky, Cokhavi, & Kirschenbaum, 2004; Tractinsky, Cokhavi, Kirschenbaum, & Sharfi, 2006). …

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