Archive for the ‘Instructor Webpages’ Category

Google Sites and Page Creator

I mentioned in my last blog post that we used Google Page Creator at the workshop to build web pages. Today I saw that Google just launched a new blog to follow Google Sites, and here is a video about how it works:

This is, quite honestly, the easiest way I have ever seen for someone who knows nothing about HTML or the Internet to build a web page. Many of the workshop participants built their own webpages with Google Page Creator. Perhaps some of them will comment with a link to their new page!

If you want students to build websites as part of an assignment or project, it doesn’t get any easier than this.

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Need an Easy Webpage? Link In

Try using LinkedIn for your professional webpage. Then on your college website, just put the basics about yourself and link to the LinkedIn profile.

Here’s mine as an example:

It’s pretty easy to do … just fill in the blanks, and the software does the rest. You can upload a list of contacts and it will check to see if any of your email contacts are already “linked in” to the network – then you can easily send an invitation to link with them.

If you’re not really sure what LinkedIn does (I admit that I wasn’t), you might want to read this article, Ten Ways to Use LinkedIn, from the How To Change the World blog. It explains, very nicely, how to optimize the web resource for you.

After reading the article, I was able to customize my LinkedIn page to do a few things, like including my blog name and website name (instead of just “My Company” or “My Website”) and creating a LinkedIn page with my name as part of the URL.

After being part of the LinkedIn network for a week, I think I am now getting the hang of some of the purpose behind the linked in network:

  1. To see what contacts you have in common with other people you know.
  2. To find contacts in places you are going to visit that know someone you know (to get an introduction). This could be useful if you’re planning on doing a lot of traveling (as I am) during a sabbatical semester (assuming I get one).
  3. To find a contact at a company that you are interested in doing business with, through someone you already know.
  4. To see what someone looks like! There are a few people I regularly correspond with online and I had no idea what they look like, until now. So if you’re going to link in… please, add your picture!

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Math Department Webpages

I read a blog a little while back on “The Importance of Being ‘clickable’ ” on the Dangerously Irrelevant Blog. It got me thinking that our department has lots of information, but the ‘clickability’ of it was not that good.The last few weeks I’ve been rebuilding our department webpages to include information that our students might like to have. Tonight I thought to myself “I wonder if I can create a nice graphical interface for the main math page, and I was able to do it with SnagIt/Flash. Here it is. I’m really proud of it… it’s got mouseover links and everything!

Here’s what I have done on the web for our department and links to those pages:








  • Flowchart of Math Classes (done in PowerPoint)









  • Transferability (this sends them to the Michigan Transfer Network)


I’m hoping to also get these up soon:

    • WebAssign help page for students


  • MyMathLab help page for students



  • more on the Math Study Skills page



  • Intermediate Algebra Review Page



  • Online Math Class help page


Any other suggestions? Is there something I’ve missed?

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How to do Mouseovers using Snagit

What’s a mouseover? It’s when you hover your mouse over an image, and text appears that is associated with the image. Technically, you could also call these “interactive hotspots.”

Here is a simple example I made to tell my students what the various links in WebAssign do. Hover your mouse over the links at the top (Home, My Assignments, Grades, Communications, Calendar) and you will get a description of what each one does… and a few other spots on the page.

I’ve just discovered (read your SnagIt emailed newsletters) that SnagIt can create Flash-based image files (swf files) with mouseovers. Watch the Techsmith screencast to see how.

I think I will begin using this for graphs… you know, when you write (a,f(a)) or (x,f(x)) or (x+h, f(x+h)) to go with a point? Well, I could make the points interactive hotspots and have the text associated with that point pop up! Cool!

I’m sure there are actually better uses… I just haven’t thought of them yet… got any suggestions?

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Instructor Webpages

First let’s address the function of an instructor web page vs. an online learning platform, just to make sure all of our readers are aware that there is a difference.

If you want to host discussions, put up notes, worksheets, or grades, then you really want an online learning platform (Angel, BlackBoard, etc.). Typically each college or University pays for hosting by one of these companies and all the instructors on campus are instructed to use it for online learning purposes

That said, what should an instructor web page have, how often should it be updated, and how do you set one up?

  • Name of instructor
  • Contact info (email, office phone, office hours, office location)
  • Educational background (degrees received, special training, etc.)
  • Recent publications or collaborations
  • Photo of instructor (preferrably not the “stock” photo from your campus… I think it’s nice for students to see their instructor out in the “real” world)
  • Current list of courses you are teaching and a link to the syllabus for each
  • What will you be teaching next semster?
  • What is it like to take one of my classes? (Why might a student be visiting your website in the first place? They are probably trying to decide which instructor to take the class from. Tell them what their experience in your class will be like.) I think it is especially important to tell students about the online experiences that they will have if you are teaching hybrid or online courses.
  • Links to some of your favorite websites (again, this tells the students a little about you)

If this is the type of information you post, then you should only have to update your website about three times a year (when there is a change in semesters or quarters).

Now the nitty gritty… how?

You’ve probably got about three options:

  1. Use the website-building software that your campus uses (on our campus, this is a program called SiteBuilder Toolkit). You may need to track down the campus webmaster in order to get a username and password (yes, another one) and to get a short tutorial on how to use the software, but it’s usually not too hard.
  2. Use your own website building software and FTP client to load the webpage on the campus site. This means purchasing your own software, learning the software, and then getting the directions for FTPing to the campuse website. (really, if all you’re doing is a simple web page, go with option #1)
  3. Purchase your own domain name, website software, and FTP program. My site’s domain name, is purchased through, built using a software package called Open Mind (from Matchware), and FTP’ed with a free program called Core FTP Lite, through my godaddy account. I still have a simple campus webpage, but on this page is a link to the secondary (much more complex) site. By hosting the rest of this material off campus, I am not subjected to the changing whims of our web design committee or left high and dry when the campus changes website software. However, this does cost me approximately $100 per year for the hosting and domain name, so there are tradeoffs.

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