hypertextbooks: projects

While this structure could apply to virtually any topic, using it to describe my life has lead me to imagine first applying it to something like American Literature, or Intro to Philosophy, History of Science, or some broad humanities topic that could be mined in subsections and rounded out semester by semester.

Take a topic and...

Identify a few key figures - authors, leaders, thinkers.

if the subject is history, pick a few people who actually lived in that time, and perhaps kept diaries - people from all walks of life, primary source people.

Identify some key ideas.

Identify some key incidents.

Identify some key locales.

Write all these subtopics down and...

Start the semester, introduce the students to the subject.

Allow them to choose or assign students subtopics.

(note: if your time/technology/expertise affords it, an email list for discussion of the web site process will be helpful and instructive)

Begin drafting the final web site shape.

Check up and encourage the use of multimedia and multiple page-pieces.

Students finalize their work and make links within their pieces.

Publish the site.

What's missing here is the web production aspect of things. How does a busy, probably harried, teacher design a web site, teach students web production, check their work, and urge the collective creation of a coherent product?


If this all sounds daunting, I can understand - in sounds in-credible to me as well.

I can imagine that the early efforts at this will be very difficult, and teachers, you will have to give up some of the authority and expertise you have carefully cultivated for your classroom.

Students are the greatest resource here - perhaps you wait to try this idea until you have a few web-knowledgable students who can teach their peers. They can work together in teams if you have enough techno-saavy youths to pair with the uninitiated.

Web production is fairly standard, meaning, if someone has a computer from within the last few years, they can use it with free tools available online to make standard, basic web pages. You need to have a computer lab unless the students have their own computers, but you probably don't need to take responsibilty for which tools they use. Very ordinary programs, word processors, can make web pages, and students displaying underconfidence with this high tech scheme can opt for something still useful but not multimedia.

Anyone who attempts to coordinate this project should build themselves a small web site first. You'll see it's not very hard, but it does take time. Remember then that this model can be managed so the students do the bulk of the work. Can you manage them doing that? Can they be managed? Can they manage themselves?

It is important for the teacher to limit the scope of the work, or direct it so that sections are built out modularly - piece by piece, so the result is useful and coherent, even if it is not as comprehensive or dazzling as the student intends at the beginning of things. Computers make for easy excuses, and it's important that the students, the teacher, and the class have a sense of having actually finished something presentable when the semester ends.

making web textbooks offers some exciting solutions.

hypertextbooks | personal publishing | technologee writings

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