Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Here is one: Much has been made of the way young people reacted to the Virginia Tech shootings by going to MySpace. This, to me, is one way that social networking can be beneficial. Yesterday I read in the paper about a sub-group of MySpace called MyDeathSpace. I got the feeling that this subgroup was well known, but I had never heard of it. Wikipedia explains that this site offers information about MySpace account holders who have died. I paid it a visit. While this site might sound a bit macabre, I found it to be in good taste. Not only did it offer links to MySpace users who were killed, which includes most of the students, but also to pages for other victims. I was interested in Dr. Liviu Librescu, for instance, and clicking on his picture took me to his faculty web page. Since I often pay visits to professors' web pages, seeing his somehow made him more real to me. I read about his publications, awards, and courses taught. Even though he was clearly a senior faculty member, he was pulling a full load with four classes this spring. Of course this led me to think about those classes, and how all his students must feel.
Next I moved on and visited a student's page. I was taken by the ebullient picture of Erin Peterson, just 18 and a VT freshman. Her page reflected the outgoing personality displayed in her picture. Reading her bio and the comments posted there was a touching reminder of the fragility of life. For some reason, even more moving than the tributes were the "normal everyday" comments that she probably had read shortly before her death as she and her friends communicated via MySpace.
I can certainly see how Internet places like this serve a special and valuable role in helping all of us, and especially young, technology savvy people, remember and grieve lost loved ones. If you have not paid a visit to MyDeathSpace, here is the link:
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
I will notify the staff that I bragged on their site.
Monday, April 9, 2007
Several people did point out that, because they were at a independent or private schools, all web pages were considered marketing tools and thus were expected to have pages that were standardized to conform with all other school pages. Additionally, I did have one response from an individual who preferred the professional and clean look of template pages. She did not like very busy pages with large numbers of links, instead favoring pages that had a very clean, streamlined look. While I agree that pages should not be cluttered with extraneous images or distracting animations, I enjoy having pages that deliver a wealth of information all in one place. Here are some additional sites that were shared as a result of this posting:
Regardless of your choice/option for the pages you put up, there are several things everyone should remember:
1. Adhere to good basic design tenets. There are websites out there that can help you with this. In general, busy backgrounds, distracting images and sounds, flashing lights, etc. are not recommended.
2. Be mindful of safety when using student images and names. My opinion is that they should be avoided even if parents' permission is given.
3. Do not put up a page if you are not willing or able to keep it current, with working links.
4. If you MUST use a template, take it as far as you can with original ideas and features to make it unique.
5. For inspiration, visit outstanding library and educational websites.
Tuesday, April 3, 2007
Alas, my blog has languished a bit. I was afraid of this happening. The truth is, my reasons for slacking are not so much difficulties I have encountered as good times I have had. The end of Spring Break week brought a visit from my daughter, who lives in
Today I have been visiting school libraries. Not physically, but from the comfort of my lounge chair on my screened-in porch. Ahhhh spring in
1. Such sites are professional in appearance.
2. There is continuity from one school page to the next.
3. Posting there is easier than posting original pages.
4. There is a great deal of control over the appearance and likely the content of these pages on the parts of technology staff or administrators.
The above listed advantages can also be faults, though. What is lost with cookie cutter pages is creative spark. The businesslike appearance may look polished and professional, but I am not sure it captures the imaginations of the true target audience, students. I feel a bit sad to see fewer and fewer sites that are lively, colorful, and creative. I also see less, if any, student work presented on the look-alike pages. And I have to wonder as I do about so many things that educators do to be more “businesslike,” is this the direction we really want? Here are just a few pages where the cookie cutter police have not yet prevailed. At the tope of the list I have to mention Peter Milbury’s Chico High Library pages. He gets so much information in to his collection of pages, and does it HIS way. What a shame to see any of the pages below get molded into cookie cutter templates. Kudos to all those folks out there who are still willing and able to row their own cyber-boats!
I could go on and may add a few sites, but right now the dog is in serious need of walking. I would love your suggestions of additional great pages, and also any comments you might have about how to withstand the forces of rampant templatism.