Creating Accessible Courses/Set up a course website and communications
Many people don't use Wikiversity as the primary location for their course, or for effective communications either. Instead they use it to keep documentation and develop resources that will be used in another primary website. That primary website for the course might be an organisation or institution website, or their own professional website as an independent practitioner.
We will assume you are an independent practitioner looking for simple to use tools for setting up a primary and central website for your course, and for opening up communication channels for people taking your course.
There are several free and easy services you can use to establish a website, without the need for expertise in website design and production. Many people use Google Sites, Blogger or Wordpress.com for examples. Services like these afford more control on layout of the site - so improving its usability and focus to an intended audience is easier and in the hands of the developer. They also facilitate easy domain name registration like yourcourse.com for example, and additional communication and information management features.
In this project we will use Blogger to set up a course website.
- Register an account with Blogger.com and "Start a Blog", naming it as you would name your course (subject to name availability).
- Create the first blog post, announcing the course website, linking to the Wikiversity development space, and outlining your intentions
- In the Pages settings for your blog, create pages for the course outline, contact information, assignments, and key resources. The home page will remain your blog space for announcements and news updates.
- In the Layout settings for your blog, add and remove "gadgets" as you think useful
- In the Template settings, apply the design you prefer. You may consider using a professional web designer to help you with this
- In the general Settings, go through the range of settings to ensure your time zone, comment moderation and alerts, and other setting are as you need
- In the Other section of the Settings, export your blog every week or month for backup. This file can be used to import your site into other services like Wordpress.com
- Consider the benefit of registering a domain name for your site. This can be simply done through Basic section of the Settings
- Links and resources
- Blogger Help
- Video help
- Wikipedia article about Blogger
- Networked Blogs - How to auto post from your website to Facebook and Twitter
So far we have dealt mainly with the information side of your course, starting with the outline on Wikiversity, going through the management of the information and resources, and into a course website. But Communication is critical in many courses, and there are a number of tools that may prove useful for facilitating or enhancing communications in your course.
- Face to face communication is obviously a valuable and important method of communicating, but a luxury or even barrier for some. Online, or Internet based communication is a luxury or barrier to many as well. Consider how you might use print formats and the postal service in unique and interesting ways, such as Chain letter, Postcards and Penpals. Post may be a slower method of communicating through text and media, but has unique and interesting aspects that may be worth appreciating.
- Before you set up communication channels for your course, consider the pros and cons of joining with existing channels. Depending on your subject matter and methods, using existing forums may be a way to make use of the expertise in those forums, and encourage Legitimate peripheral participation as a learning method.
- Consider setting up a Facebook page for your course, and setting it so the announcements you make on your course website automatically cross post onto the Facebook page
- Look into the same for Google+ "Pages" and/or "Communities"
- Consider the use of Skype or Google Hangouts both to communicate with people via video, but also to bring in guest speakers, live stream events and/or record sessions
- For many people, an email forum is an effective way to run online, text based discussion forums. Google groups is a good service for this
- Youtube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and many other such services have communication features that are central to their service. Consider ways to use these features in your course.
- Links and resources