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Web Literacy for the Agroecosystems Class
The Web has become a major mode of communication in modern society. This class provides training in "Web Literacy", which is defined as
The ability make critical use of the Web to access information, and to prepare documents and Web sites that make effective and appropriate use of this medium.
Critical use of the Web to access information involves finding information, assessing its reliability and citing it according to prescribed academic standards. In this class, we use the Web both as a source of information, and to observe (research) the market place. The results are reported and cited in formal academic reports, making use of recently developed Web Style guidelines. 1
Writing for the Web has different requirements and provides options not associated with traditional academic writing for the printed page.
Thus communicating effectively in the Web medium Ç Web Literacy Ç involves some core technical skills, which are new to most of us. It also benefits from good writing skills. This class provides formal training in the technical skills over the course of 7 Lab sessions. Topics of those sessions are:
- We read the Web differently because we see it in screen views rather than page views, and because of the non-linear organization made possible by hypertext. Creating materials that allow readers to move quickly through documents requires particular attention to synthesis, organization and concise, clear writing.
- Multimedia materials can be much more readily assembled, distributed and experienced than in traditional formats.
- Unlike the printed page, a Web page can be seen or experienced quite differently by different viewers according to the platform, connections, browsers, and how a document is prepared ( a "cross compliancy" issue). Ensuring that a page is seen as the writer wishes it to be seen, or predicting how it will be seen, requires some understanding of the underlying technical issues.
The class provides a lot opportunity to develop an appropriate "Web Writing Style" through the Special Topics and other assignments which are reported in the form of Web pages or Web sites.
- Getting Acquainted: Web Page Templates; Search Tools
- Writing Code and Posting it on the Web
- Tables, Image placement, Backgrounds and Layout
- Manipulating Images
- Good Design ; Use of Editors; Style Sheets
- Bare Bones Unix
- Introduction to other Web Tools and Trends
1Walker, J.R. and Taylor, T. 1998. The Colombia Guide to Online Style. Columbia University Press, New York.