Designing a Site, Points to Consider

There is no right or wrong way to use eBridge but the online experience, will be down to the structure of your site and the interaction you maintain with the students. Keep it simple and user friendly; students will value a well-organised site as opposed to a long list of resources that may be difficult to navigate and of no relevance.

Develop some understanding of what your students expect before deciding how to structure your course

A lot of students will expect to use eBridge as part of their course because their peers are using it. If you won't be using eBridge, let the students know. If you are using eBridge, explain the basic principles of how it will be used and that the site may not look the same as other sites. A brief introduction, perhaps as part of the induction process, may save you work later on.

Consider the hardware/software being used

Find out what your students have access to and bear this in mind when developing your resources. Some students may have a Microsoft Office Starter pack, usually free with a new machine but doesn't have all Office applications. It may be worth advising them to purchase Microsoft Office which is heavily discounted for students. If you have PDF files, your students could also benefit from the free download of the Adobe Reader software or QuickTime for video. Students with a slow connection speed to the Internet may also have problems opening large documents.

Think about the time and effort needed

You don't need an all singing and dancing site with a lot of interactive resources. Keep it simple, your students will appreciate a clear structure and you can develop your site over time. Think about organising the site by modules, topics or weeks and organise activities likewise. Don't overload your site with material that isn't needed, quantity doesn't mean quality, but if you do have additional material, identify it as optional.

Identify existing material and assess whether it is appropriate to use online

If you have documents stored electronically, they can easily be uploaded. If you are producing new resources, use common file formats and don't create large files which can take a long time to open/download. PowerPoint presentations with plenty of images can also cause problems for students with a slow connection speed.

What do your students envisage as online activity?

They may expect a lot of interactivity, perhaps forums or even tests. If your site will be a repository for resources only, let your students know.

What activities can you and your students do online?

The attention span of your students will be short and having only lengthy documents, may prove ineffective. Have an online presence - use email and send announcements but plan how you will communicate and how often. Create some small chunks of self assessment and use forums to encourage discussion. Most students are used to online social networking and using this type of medium as part of their studies could help improve the understanding of a subject. Variety should increase the attention span of students and contribute to student satisfaction.

How will you be assessing students' progress?

Assessment could begin at the start of your course with an introductory quiz to find out what they know, strengths and weaknesses and expectations. The quiz will introduce them to online assessment and future tests can be used for self improvement or formative testing. Contribution to a forum could also be used as part of the assessment process.