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Published: March 15, 2001.


Mission Accomplished! Developing Educational Web Sites that Work
David Schaller , Educational Web Adventures LLP, USA
Susan Nagel , Educational Web Adventures LLP, USA
Steven Allison-Bunnell , Educational Web Adventures LLP, USA

Session: Educational Web Sites

The Web is an exciting new medium for education--but how do we develop for it? This workshop will explore how to take advantage of the strengths of the Web to develop online learning experiences that are interactive, immersive, and in-depth. We will examine common types of activities, with an emphasis on content-driven activities such as interactive stories, goal-oriented scenarios, and query-driven learning modules that challenge your Web visitors to accomplish something--while learning your content in order to succeed.

After an initial discussion about various approaches to educational Web sites, we will work in small groups to develop a web site or activity from initial idea to the outline stage. Attendees are invited (but not required) to bring a topic for an educational Web site. While we will consider some technical features and limitations of the Web, this workshop will not teach technical skills such as HTML or graphics. Rather, we'll focus on the creative process of creating a great educational Web site.


  1. Why use the Web? How can the Web be used as an educational medium? What kinds of learning are well-suited to the web? What are the Web's unique possibilities? What are some of its limitations?
  2. What kinds of Web sites are most effective educationally? Review common museum Web genres: search engine, virtual exhibit, learning module, interactive story, goal-based scenario, etc. Diagram the information architecture/site structure of each genre. Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each, and how they appeal to various audiences.
  3. Break into small groups and focus on one idea for an educational Web activity. With the instructors' guidance, brainstorm concepts and formats that would be appealing, content-appropriate, and educationally sound. Discuss goals, audience, content, and audience motivation.
  4. Regroup and review the concepts developed by the small groups. Critique each concept: Is it content-driven? Would it be appealing to its audience? Does it employ active learning?

    Discuss the development process. How do you structure an activity around the content? What makes some activities simply trivia quizzes, and others content-driven stories or scenarios? How do you layer information effectively? How can you draw on history and pop culture to enhance the value and appeal of your activity? Does it appeal to the "twitch speed" generation?

  5. Return to small groups and further develop the idea. Hone the concept, create an outline, and write a description of the project which could be used as a proposal for internal museum support or a bid for work.
  6. Return to large group to briefly present and discuss each group's ideas for their Web activity. Each group's proposal can be posted to a Web site where other groups can review and share it within their institution.