Academic journal article Technology and Engineering Teacher

Web Tools: Keeping Learners on Pace

Academic journal article Technology and Engineering Teacher

Web Tools: Keeping Learners on Pace

Article excerpt

"The unique context of the game introduced ethical dilemmas that integrated ethics education into a technical education classroom setting."

INTRODUCTION

One of the greatest challenges in teaching technology and engineering is pacing. Some students grasp new technological concepts quickly, while others need repetition and may struggle to keep pace. This poses an obstacle for the technology and engineering teacher, and is particularly true when teaching students to build a website. However, there are a plethora of online tools available that can assist learners in building a website. By using simple and free tools, one can not only make teaching easier but can also enhance student learning (Ottenbreit-Leftwich, Glazewski, Newby, & Ertmer, 2010). Providing both students and teachers with a web-authoring tool kit helps to stretch the more technologically savvy student as the others keep pace. In addition, it assists in helping the technology and engineering teacher to develop useful and effective websites used in recruitment and other forms of student communication. This meets with Standards for Technological Literacy (STL) Standard 17-P: There are many ways to communicate information, such as graphic and electronic means (ITEA/ITEEA, 2000/2002/ 2007). Ertmer, Ottenbreit-Leftwich, Sadik, Sendurur, and Sendurur (2012) noted that 96% of teachers utilize web tools to communicate with both students and parents. This article identifies some of the tools that may be used in the classroom and for classroom-oriented, teacher-hosted websites. While specific examples are provided, Web search terms are denoted at the end of each section to help determine which tools are best suited for the classroom. Understanding the capabilities of free online tools is a key to building a tool kit for both the teacher and his or her students.

FUNDAMENTAL TOOLS

Web-Authoring Software

Whether building a site for students/parents or the teacher, a preliminary step is identifying a webauthoring software to use. It may be an online tool (such as web.com or wix.com), an open-source download and installation (such as openElement or KompoZer), or a more comprehensive software such as Adobe's Dreamweaver (Stokes, 2013) if the budget permits.

There are advantages and disadvantages for each. The online tools may be much simpler to learn and often provide a complete WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) working environment, but they often lack flexibility and may include built-in advertisements. Attempting to extend student knowledge beyond the most basic capabilities can be difficult. While simplicity may be an advantage, the teacher should keep in mind technologically savvy students. By inhibiting their limits via software options, you may also inhibit their abilities to move ahead as the others keep pace. This lack of flexibility can sometimes be prohibitive and not permit students to maximize learning (Krug, 2013).

Open-source software tends to be more challenging to learn, but it also generally adds more flexibility than does the online software. However, budget is generally a critical consideration in public education. If resources are available to buy web-authoring software, students will be provided with the most opportunities for exploring what web-authoring software can do, including building mobile apps (Ullman, 2013). This is likely the most beneficial option when attempting to provide new skills to advanced students, but not the only viable option.

Web search keywords: Free Web authoring software, free Web design software

Graphics

One clear distinction between an amateur and a professional website is graphics (Hasan & Abuelrub, 2011). Most Internet users have encountered amateurish-looking sites that use clip art and animation on every page, but with so many graphic design tools available, it is essential to utilize those tools (Kosloski & Davis, 2015). …

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