Adapted from an essay presented to the start of a lecturer training course (City and Guilds 730 part 2 in 2001)
At present the Adrian Worsfold and Elena Kursheva Website with the Pluralist domain name (1) extends over two major servers and four Internet Service Provider accounts, and is due to expand further with my marriage and input from my future wife, probably in her native Cyrillic Russian as well as English. My work on the website in general, its significant Learning section, and on websites for occasional clients, continues to have several main related impacts on me as a teacher.
Whereas many websites so often seem to consist largely of links, my aim has been to produce or reproduce my original material. This means I use my past academic work, write on areas of interest, upload my lectures from different places and times, upload IT resources which I wrote to supplement RSA materials (when relevant) and rewrite study skills material.
My website section Learning (Worsfold, 2001) is a significant proportion of pages of my total website. It exists as a resource for any visitor who arrives by intent or accident. A counter at the arrival home page shows several ac.uk and edu extensions (2) of those coming to the website, the number of which rises in term-time, which probably means deliberate educational use that follows my placings on search engines and their own spidering (3) in general. I also refer to this website section in lecturing, tutoring and study skills work to students on an ad hoc basis.
Inevitably, therefore, the content of my website reflects my personal interests but promotes my potential in a general professional sense in educational settings. Also, I am always seeking to find new as well as standard ways of producing web pages quickly, under my control and without bloated code.
The area that received most professional based work in 2001-2002 was Study Skills. This was a reflection on my personal commitment to my job... This material inevitably involves a crossover of professional and personal identity, as all my education involvement in fact has been like this; study skills material on the Grimsby College website will have a changed content and in-house appearance. There is a possessiveness about websites in terms of ownership and updating, and in making it relevant and updating links.
The Learning area is just one part of the whole Pluralist website. The other sections also receive constant attention, being autobiographical, Local area (New Holland), CV, Clocks (with reference to local historical figure John Harrison), Galleries. The Galleries section is the most consuming of webspace with many galleries of my own and my mother's art work and photography, and the first visit of my then Russian girlfriend. There is also Contact and links. I intend to close the Music section as it is insignificant.
These pages lead to learning and maintaining different emphases in HTML skills. The Galleries section is important for updating and maintaining skills because producing a family album is a most useful early and interesting teaching topic in web page design and writing in HTML. The web page that holds a photograph and a small amount of explanatory text can be relatively simple but give instant rewarding results for the early learner with a scanned photograph or two. Yet it can go on to incorporate metatags, external and internal style sheets, centred headers, relative links and then thumbnail pages where each thumbnail jumps with a click to a specific page with one photographic image. My plan for writing a course in HTML is based around the family album.
The basis of the HTML and Help subsection is that anyone can acquire at minimal or no cost software which has specific functions. The chief two web page writers I use are Arachnophilia 4 and Note Tab Light. The first will convert rich text format files to web pages which then need further editing. This can be configured by the user, so mine is becoming more HTML 4 orientated than HTML 3.2 (4). Note Tab Light is the superior package of the two because a text file is first written as a text file (word wrapped on screen). It has clips for text processing which the user adds to and designs for his or herself. Then it will convert to HTML and on to XHTML and XML for further web page editing with user configurable HTML clips. Note Tab Standard and Note Tab Pro offer further functions, but I have found no need for these, especially using the colour text functions of Arachnophilia.
The importance of these two applications (other than costing nothing) is the assisted use of code. Whilst the programs prevent simple typographical mistakes, they educate in the Internet web page creation process. This is important for me as a web page designer, tutor, study skills supporter and interpreter of existing World Wide Web pages.
Other principle programs include GeoHTML and eMindMaps. GeoHTML is also free and allows an image map to be created visually whilst viewing the code. This is where different sections of an image of a page click through to different web pages or show different tooltips. The code is then slotted into existing pages or forms a new page itself.
The program eMindMaps (Buzan and Buzan, 2000), provided free on CDs, has a web exporting facility. Its hierarchical and logical visual note making facility also translates well into menus. My visual Learning menu is based this way. It would be a way for individuals and groups to enhance connected thinking on the Internet, and could be a good notemaking method for students. Whilst I think Tony Buzan is a salesman (Buzan and Buzan, 2000), these are useful and I include several examples as alternatives to "vertical" narrative writing in the Learning area.
The Learning area also has the function of supporting my teaching as a professional. I uploaded my own authored exercises in word processing, databases and spreadsheets when I was a lecturer in RSA CLAIT and RSA 2 DTP, although since that work ended those items were removed. I have placed Research Methods lectures on it for students to read for themselves within the same week. Because my education background is in Sociology, Theology, some Business (as a lecturer) and I have varied interests, the academic area is quite broad and can be used by others on an ad-hoc basis. I have used resources directly into study skills situations, for example referencing methods have appeared on screen whilst students are writing their essays on screen. Where support is wanted, it can appear the same evening.
I use the website to keep myself aware of some of the writers important for academic work, and so any student who wants a summary of Jurgen Habermas, for example, can find an article I wrote on him. It is entirely up to the student whether such material is used and should be regarded as all Internet sources of information, with an attitude of critical evaluation.
So altogether this Pluralist website is my resource. It enhances what I can do in terms of teaching and study skills, and extends what I can teach. It has these beneficial effects in college situations as well as for educating clients in business employment.
Adrian Worsfold: May 2001
|(1)||The Pluralist domain name is my intellectual property, chosen because of my stance within the Unitarian Church, a postmodern conversational approach to bringing together different faith positions without expecting agreement.|
|(2)||ac.uk is the web server extension for British educational institutions. Alternatively edu is the web server extension for American and other educational institutions. When these are servers, they display in hit counter statistics, otherwise the general server shows only.|
|(3)||A spider is an automatic trace through links on web pages. Once a web page is made known to a spider, it follows though its web pages and soon. It picks up and records meta tags (in web page headers) and text, and forms a vast and perhaps cumbersome method of searching. Other search sites use human entered data into directories of pre-set categories.|
|(4)||HTML 4 is style sheet orientated, with a greater flexibility regarding appearance than the tag based HTML 3.2, which however will remain a basis and bedrock of web pages. HTML 4 allows the transition to XHTML and XML. HTML will become a subset of XML, a completely configurable and flexible language.|
Buzan, T., Buzan, B. (2000), The Mind Map Book, Millennium edition, London: BBC Worldwide
Cork, C. (1995), Thinking it Through: an introduction to critical thinking, Leicester: De Montford University Library, Student Learning Development Centre.
Eastwood, J. (1998), Presentation Skills, Leicester: De Montford University Library, Student Learning Development Centre.
Hilton, A. (1998), Report Writing, Leicester: De Montford University Library, Student Learning Development Centre.
Stagg, G. (1995), Reading and Notetaking from Written Sources, Leicester: De Montford University Library, Student Learning Development Centre.
Marshall, L., Rowland, F. (1998), A Guide to Learning Independently, 3rd edition, Buckingham: Open University Press.