Enhancing and Promoting a Faculty Web Page
James Hayes-Bohanan, Ph.D.
Earth Sciences and Geography
Bridgewater State College

Massachusetts Education Computing Conference
"Shaping the New Millennium"
University of Massachusetts - Boston
Presented June 14, 2001
Revised May 18, 2005

This page was created as part of a workshop intended for professors and librarians who already have basic web sites and for the support staff who train them. It provides examples of features on faculty web sites that enhance learning and/or support research and service. It also provides instruction in the use of search engines to create traffic for a site.
Search-Engine Placement
Faculty members who create useful web sites can benefit by making them easier for people to find. This page is based on a poster that I prepared for colleagues, after numerous requests to share my insights on successful placement.

To see how well site promotion can work, consider this: a search of Google for "environmental geography" yields about twelve million results. Take a look at the first one .

Course Content
[From the Course Catalog, scroll to either section of GEOG196, and enroll as a guest.]
The focus of this presentation is the use of the web to support learning beyond what is required in specific courses. Nonetheless, it is worthwhile to give some consideration to the use of the web in courses. Such uses include student profiles and photos; class notes; online discussions; posting Power Point or Excel files; and managing quizzes and assignments.

On May 17, 2001, Dr. Susan Holton and I gave a presentation about conducting web-based courses of this kind. You can view the slides we used in that presentation.

Course or Program Promotion
A web page can be used in advance of a course to generate interest or to advise students of special requirements or field trips .
Local Content
This example is a site that I developed - with the help of students - to augment the public education being done by a local naturalist who frequently presents this information to local civic groups. Putting her existing materials on the web provides a useful service to the community and did not require a lot of original research on my part. It also allows my students to learn about a local example of a topic that is important to several of my courses.
Research Findings
The first web site I ever visited (back before browsers, search engines, and dot-coms) was dedicated to research about buckminsterfullerine (buckyballs). It provided ready access to what was at the time a rather obscure area of physics research. Faculty with a strong interest in a narrow field of study can provide a useful service by bringing relevant resources together, particularly if they can build such a site around their own contributions.
News Headlines
It is now possible to have current news that is relevant to your field "pushed" to your web pages on a regular basis. I do not recommend this for the main page, however, because it can sometimes cause a page to mis-load.
Gateway Page
The home page should give the first-time visitor a clear idea of what is available at the site. Some recommend minimalist home pages because they place a premium on fast loading times, but many successful pages (e.g., Yahoo.com) are actually quite information-dense. Of course, gratuitous features that will unduly slow the main page should be avoided.

As a site grows, navigational aids such as a drop-down menu and a local search engine can be very useful. A good search engine such as AtomZ can help you learn what users are hoping to find on your site.

Student Guidance
The web can be used to provide encouragement to students and to make expectations clear. I get more positive comments -- from colleagues nationwide, from students, and from their parents -- about this part of my site than any other.
Personal Information
Perhaps I go farther than most in  this regard, but I have found that the inclusion of this family page has helped to build rapport with students. It also helps friends and family all over the world maintain a connection with me.
Annotated Links
I do not keep bookmarks on my computers. First of all, because I do not always use the same computer, I would never be at the right computer when I need to return to a site. More importantly, I consider it part of my job to help my students learn about the useful sites in my field. 

I encourage faculty to avoid providing long list of links on their web sites, unless they are willing to give students a clear idea of what the links are for. 

Maintaining a useful set of links requires constant maintenance. I employ a work-study student to validate links periodically, and I award extra credit to students who identify valuable new links for my site or dead links on my site.

Creative Content
After my Not-the-13th-Grade pages, this has probably been the most popular part of my site. It took a long while to decide on this as a project, and it has taken a good deal of effort since then, but I think every faculty member has some original idea related to his or her field that could be developed into an engaging part of a web site. 
Student Collaborations
Working with students to create web pages can be demanding. Students are generally not accustomed to organizing their ideas in web-ready ways. In the project presented here, the work of dozens of K-12 classes is made readily available to their communities.
Search Engines
Effective use of search engines involves understanding how search engines work.

Web Rings
A way to generate more self-selected traffic to a site is to use web rings, which now exist for seemingly every interest. 
Javascripts are commands contained entirely within the web page. It is useful to look at the code of existing javascripts to learn how they work. My home page has two: one generates the random "Quote of the Moment" and the other places a greeting in the status bar.
Java employs small, free-standing programs (called applets) that run within a web document. They require the use of separate files (*.class or *.jar files) that contain the code and content, with commands in the web document itself to set some parameters. The marquis on this page is an example. A look at the code will reveal which files are being used on this decidedly non-academic page. In this case, java is being used for a campy effect; on professional pages it should be used sparingly and only when it serves a purpose. The crossword puzzles below are an example of a more sophisticated use.
Crossword Puzzles
The software I use to create the java that drives these puzzles has been an excellent investment. In fact, I have been able to teach a work-study student to create puzzles for my site, drawing clues from a glossary.
NOTE: Recent changes in Windows have rendered these puzzles unusable on some operating systems. I am currently working with my own campus IT department on server-side adjustments that should alleviate the problem.
Keeping a curriculum vita on the faculty web site makes it easy to provide information about professional activities that is current and robust. It is a convenient way to allow colleagues and students to follow up on presentations or papers, and it provides evaluators (for promotion, tenure, or grants) with more complete information about one's work. If links are included, however, they should be checked at least once or twice each year.

This page is the third in a series of tours of my web site created to demonstrate some of the pedagogic potential of faculty web sites. Earlier versions are the the Virtual2 Tour , prepared in April 1999 for the Massachusetts Council on International Education. and the Fully Integrated Teaching page, prepared in November 1999 as a brief overview for presentations to the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education and the Trustees of Bridgewater State College. Subsequent presentations are listed in my c.v. , as are fellowships and awards related to teaching with technology.

Return to Dr. Hayes-Bohanan's Web Site: http://webhost.bridgew.edu/jhayesboh
Contact Dr. Hayes-Bohanan by e-mail: jhayesboh@bridgew.edu
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