A survey of web sites intended for teaching
Uses and quality evaluation.
Georg R Douglas
Georg R Douglas - Report carried out within the Library
and Information Science Programme,
Dept. of Social Sciences, University of Iceland, 1997
The intention of producing a comprehensive web site for use in teaching earth
science at highschool level in Iceland promted this background study, the purpose of
which was to assess the status of resources and educational web sites relevant to
science teaching on the Internet at the moment (October 1996) and to evaluate the
opportunities the Internet offers to the science student. It is hoped that by identifying the
main areas of activity, highlighting problem areas and examining the best the Internet
has to offer, the study will help in formulating guidelines for producing useful web
pages. The actual construction of such an earth science web site, with commentary on
the details, will form a separate study.
Although schools and educational institutions now frequently have home pages
and students are using the Internet daily there are enormous differences in quality and
many problems lie ahead. Highschools, in particular, are still at the stage of
discovering and defining the Internet´s role in their particular environment and although
a recent Lycos survey in U.S.A suggests that around 60% of Internet users believe that it
will be a useful service, the same survey showed that 54% of people online at present,
spend more time searching for information than in actually finding anything that they
consider to be of value (Ref. 1) There is every reason to suppose that this figure may
be applied equally well to students looking for curriculum-related resources and
underlines the need to analyse the present situation in some detail.
More precisely the aims of this study were:
1. To make a survey of existing educational web sites on the Internet with a
view to determining and classifying their main fields of use and their
organizational structure at the present time (October 1996).
2. To identify and compare web sites at several educational levels and from
more than one institutional or oranizational type.
3. To make an evaluation of the information quality and pedagogic quality of
educational sites on the Internet through an instrument designed to include the
widest possible range of parameters.
4. To use the results to decide how to make the most of the opportunities
offered by this form of information technology and thus to lay the foundations
for a web site which will be of immediate use to students but which will also
develop in a well organized and exciting manner.
A survey of educational web sites.
Methodology and definitions.
An existing survey on the role of the library as information provider (Ref. 2)
was used to some extent as a model for the present survey. Altogether 49 web sites
were examined over the period September - October 1996. Any site whose stated aims
were educational or which, by definition, attempted to educate, were included in the
survey. Sites which dealt with the topic of education per se were excluded. The term
web site implies that there may be many home pages within the site. In investigating
features such as www links, this often meant going down through the pages to a
considerable depth in order to find the links. After an initial look at several web sites,
it was decided to divide the sampling more or less equally into 3 categories. The first
two, universities and highschools, are established educational institutions which,
judging from the number who have web pages, seem committed to offering their
services online. The third category is comprised of web sites which present non-
traditional educational material or courses. Included are purely online educational
organizations, some distance education establishments, but also universities with
experimental web pages as well as a wide variety of less conventional web sites
whose originators range from the large computer companies and national education
authorities to eccentric individuals. Other sites represented in the survey include
museums, interactive exhibitions and remote controlled devices. It is fully recognised
that many sites, although not directly pitched as educational, can be of value to the
student. Examples include industrial organisations and satellite tracking stations. These
have not been included in the survey. Many of these pages have a high educational
value. The values which appear in the tables can refer to an entire faculty, a single
department, a particular project or a mixture, depending on the organization of the web
pages. The large volume of educational pages of various types on the Internet strongly
suggests that a further classification study would be worthwhile.
The web sites examined were mainly in the field of science and technology.
Several sources were used to find web sites for inclusion in the survey. The Lycos A2z
College pages list (Ref.3) gives a good cross section of the world´s universities, while
regional lists are also available, as for example UK Academic sites. Keypals
International (from College Bound)(Ref.4) provides links to many hundred secondary
school home pages throughout the world, classified by country and these can also be
accessed through national school networks which exist in many countries. Web pages in
the third survey category ("other") were selected in several ways. Project-orientated
or resource-orientated pages were generally chosen from large well organised sites
such as AskERIC (the Educational Resource Information Centre)(Ref.5), The European
Studies Programme (Ref. 6), national educational networks such as the Canada´s
School Net (Ref.7), the Australian Curriculum Projects Registry (Ref. 8) and the WWW
Virtual Library (CERN)(Ref. 9). The latter has a useful classification of educational
sites by subject, institution, clearinghouse and other types. In addition to these
structured information sources, the web search engines Lycos, Altavista and EINet
Galaxy were used to search the Internet for selected search strings to try and uncover
as wide a range of educational sites as
possible and some of the web pages examined were chosen from the results of these
In selecting the sites for inclusion an attempt was made to spread the choice
globally. Because of language difficulties (e.g Japanese) this sometimes entailed using
an english version of the web pages and in some cases this was obviously an abridged
version of the original language pages. Even so the structure of the site was often quite
clear, particularly as many of the WWW links are frequently in English in any case.
Countries represented include Iceland, Ireland, U.K., Germany, Denmark, Norway,
Sweden, Holland, Israel, Italy, U.S.A., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.
The choice of features which were examined is based largely on the most
common features used in web pages generally, but it is also to some extent subjective,
being influenced by the author´s 25 year teaching experience and background. This is
reflected in Table 1 which shows that web page features have been grouped under
functional or activity headings. Because WWW links form such a central and important
place on most educational pages, at least at present, a more detailed assessment has
been made of their type and organization separately in Table 2.
While all of the web sites examined give basic information related in some way
or other to the institution or organization, it is often less clear as to what the aims of the
web pages are or even for what end user group they are intended. The highschools
score especially poorly in this respect. Although they always provide basic
information about the school and its overall philosophy and aims, there is seldom any
explanation of the purpose or aims of the web pages themselves. This is especially true
as regards departmental pages. Many highschools are obviously still in an adolescent
stage of development on the Internet doing little more than making their presence felt.
This is perhaps apparent in the high percentage (38%) of highschools which have
displays of non-curricular work on their pages and may reflect a high student
participation without guidance, since it is not uncommon for students to have the
technical expertise required for setting up pages, before their teacher peers. The
universities and other organizations do not use space in this way (0%) and seemingly
regard the Internet mainly as a place for serious academic activity.
Use and content of web pages.
Several strong trends for the use of web pages in science education seem to
have already emerged. While many web sites carry information on courses available,
dates of lectures and offer basic on line services to students, it is the universities who
are most obviously committed to online teaching in some way or other. Around 60% of
universities in the survey offer actual online learning packages, although it must be
pointed out that in actual amount there is not very much as yet and only a few complete
courses. A good example are the online crystallography pages at Birbeck, UK (Ref
10). About 30% publish lecture summaries or notes, usually in basic text form. A
useful collection of universities throughout the world offering such services has been
organised on the University of Texas web pages as the World Lecture Hall (Ref. 11),
although how permanent such access will be is impossible to say. Around 40% of
universities provide supplimentary material for courses such as images of features
discussed in classs. This is an even more valuable information resource. Only a very
few sites were encountered which asked for a user ID for such services but this
situation must surely change in the future. Around 70% of universities online have
local area network links on their pages and although the external observer can only
surmise, these presumably lead to even more online teaching material only available to
enroled students. .
Some of the less conventional educational sites (14-21%) also offer teaching
packages or material online, but this is often by subscription. Cyberstudy (Ref. 12), a
web site from Cyber Publishing, offers online teaching courses apparently designed to
help students already enroled at conventional schools. They act as the man in the
middle by recruiting both teachers and students and assisting with making the materials
net-ready, if required. In the case of NASA´s SIR-C space shuttle teaching programme
(Ref. 13), some of the material is online while other essential material is available on
CD-ROM disc. The reasons for such division are not clear. As yet the highschools have
not seriously made use of the Internet as a means of teaching the student directly, only
13% providing online coursework. There are, however, noteable exceptions. The
Macarthur Girl´s Highschool, Australia (Ref. 14), has the simple but effective method
of offering its students class notes as .zip files for downloading.
Despite their slow start to use the Internet for direct teaching, the highschools
are nevertheless publishing original material on their web pages. This is often in the
form of student classwork displays where work has been scanned and set up as web
pages, sometimes with explanation of aims and comment on the results, but more often
not. An example is a display of the CAD artwork produced by one class in 1995 (Ref.
15) which involves several hundred GIF images in full size on one .htm document, with
no thumbnails. The display may have been intended for a pre-informed audience, but
people searching for CAD information are likely to arrive at the site and waste time
trying to assess its worth. Around 40% of highschools in the survey use their web
pages in this way, which contrasts with only 10% at university level. Displays of this
type are quite often the result of co-operation with other schools where the work is part
of a joint project steered by an umbrella organization. About 20% of schools display
class work through such schemes. A good example is the European Studies Programme
(Ref. 16) which has encouraged cross-border exchange between 15 European countries
since 1986, increasingly so via the Internet. Typically groups of around 4 schools take
part in visits and publishing on the web. The uniting themes tend to be in the field of
humanities rather than in science and social issues are often addressed. Other similar
schemes which do favour science include The Connected Classroom, part of
Microsoft´s Global Schoolhouse (Ref. 17), which offers around 90 projects for online
participation The option of joining in as a spectator is often offered, though it is not
always clear where the results of the projects are published.
Online publishing by universities is well established, over 50% of those
examined displaying the results of original research by staff and research students.
This is sometimes in the form of short displays within departmental homepages, or as
previously published work which has been digitized and put on the web, sometimes as
links from a bibliography. Equally many universities use the web for introducing and
publicising large research programmes.
By far the most popular use of web pages in all 3 groups is to provide www
links to other web sites and pages and as such this aspect was examined in more detail.
Table 2 summarises the main features. Such links are of course the very essence of the
Internet and offer the end user the opportunity of obtaining very large amounts of
information from many varied sources at the same time - if he or she can assimilate it.
That will ultimately depend on how the links have been chosen and organised on the
particular web pages. The majority of highschools (69%) have a link on their main
opening page which is usually titled "WWW links", "WWW resources" or similar,
while 50% of the universities tend to have general www links (libraries, search
engines and travel information) on the main page and subject-specific links on
departmental pages (90%). Only 25% of schools place their www links on
departmental pages. In this case the figure includes the school library, where it had a
separate web page. The www links on other types of web site appear most often on the
organization´s main page (71%) or on subsidiary project pages (29%).
At first sight there appear to be as many types of www links as there are pages.
The greatest number of links belong to universities partly because of their size and
number of departments and even individual departments frequently have more than 20
links. A relatively large number (25%) of highschools depend on just one or two
www links, and these are almost always to a few large and well known web sites such
as, for example, the many NASA educational sites in the science field.
One new trend which has emerged with access to the Internet is that highschools
appear to be now making use of quite high quality resources such as professional or
semi-professional information banks. Around 31% of them have links on their web
pages to organizations which include the WWW Virtual Library (Ref. 9), the US
Geological Survey GLIS (Global Land Information System)(Ref. 18), the National
Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (USA)(Ref. 19) the National History
Museum of London (Ref. 20) and the various online departments of the Smithsonian
Institute (Ref. 21). While not all of the resources available at these web sites are,
strictly speaking, part of a true subject database, the schools nevertheless do come into
direct contact with very reliable sources of information in a way which did not happen
just a few years back. The same resources are of most value to the universities, 90%
of whom have links to several professional information banks or databases on their
pages. Around half (50%) of the alternative types of web site provide access to high
grade information of this type and indeed in some cases educational web sites belong to
such professional organizations.
Conversely, about 80% of the links provided on highschool web pages are not
direct links to professional organizations or their large subject-tree databases. They
tend rather to be to very large and popular web sites which, during the brief
development period of the web, have become well-recognized and respected.
Although at a much lower academic level than the large databases, many of these sites
are in fact organised by professional organizations. Some are specifically aimed at the
teaching community. Many highschool web pages provide www links which have
originated through K-12 projects. Typical are collections of resources which have
been chosen for their level and sorted according to topic. Frank Potter´s Science Gems
(Ref. 22) is one such example which appears on highschool pages, especially in
N.America. Others are the work of individuals who have found a positive response to
their initial work and have developed their web pages into major educational sites. A
good example is The Nine Planets web site (Ref. 23), a fund of information on the solar
system, run by Bill Arnett who is a software engineer by training and profession, but
who has an interest in astronomy. It must be said that of all the schoolpages which did
provide resource links, practically none included links to low-grade web pages. Any
weaknesses lie elsewhere as will be discussed later.
Apart from those specifically related to subject resources, the most common
links provided by the highschools and the universities were to local resources which
included the local library, image and map collections of the area and links to local
authority offices. All of the universities in the survey provided such links and 31% of
the highschools. Other educational web sites are obviously not interested in this area
(0%). Between 60 and 70% of the universities typically had links to some news
service, sometimes subject orientated (e.g. CNN-Science and Technology (Ref. 24)), to
other universities or university departments and to online e-journals. In contrast, the
highschools have not yet really explored this opportunity although just under 20% had
links to some news provider, and these included real-audio science reports which
mirror material from radio broadcasts in the U.S.A. About 20% of the schools also
provided links to a particular industrial or private sector web site, presumably for
curriculum related reasons. Just under 30% of the survey´s non-traditional third
category of web site had a news element of some kind in their www links.
Most educational web sites make use of the strong communicative element of
the Internet, but in quite diverse ways. A number of communication channels were
examined in the survey and are grouped under the heading of direct contact. A
relatively high proportion (38%) of highschools use their web pages for participating in
classroom linkups, usually as part of a joint scheme organized by an education authority
or other umbrella organization. About 50% of all the less conventional web sites
included in the survey were either the instigators of such schemes or else took part in
them. The approach is typically to publish a list of schools or organizations with a
short description of the joint project they are conducting or hope to start. Microsoft´s
Connected Classroom pages (Ref. 17) give a registry containing approximately 90
projects which cover all subjects and levels and with contact information for those
intending to join in. Quite a few of the non-traditional web sites make use of either E-
mail (14%) and browser forms (21%) for direct communication in connection with
project work. 14% provided ftp for downloading of necessary software or files. The
universities´ use of these facilities is even greater, but is more often connected with
formal course work. An exception is E-mail for simple student-teacher subject-related
exchange purposes, which is seldom encouraged. The schools make very little use of
any of these direct contact opportunities. Direct links to Usenet newsgroups or
listserves which deal with academic subjects are provided on the web pages of 30% of
the universities and 21% of the alternative education sites, but only on 6% of the
highschool pages. These values may seem surprisingly low in view of the extensive
use of E-mail in schools and it does not necessarily mean that such services are not
being used in educational establishments, but rather that little attempt is made to steer
the online student towards them by way of web pages.
One of the new features which came with web browsing was the ability to make
very broad searches through Internet space by key word, using search engines.
Although a well established technique to academics, this was a novel idea to most
laymen and students at highschool level. It seems rather strange therefore that only 6%
of school pages provide links to any of the well known search engines such as Yahoo,
Lycos or Alta Vista. Around 30% of the university web sites provide direct links to
search engines, often on the university´s opening page and links to search engines are
also quite common on less conventional educational web pages (21%). The Chemistry
Department at the University of Dortmund in Germany (Ref. 25) provides a very
complete search facility to its students and staff by grouping together on one page many
large search engines classified by information, software, publications, news FAQs and
various other types, rather like CUI´s Meta-Index. Around 10% of the universities and
14% of the non-traditional web sites provide links to subject specific search engines
such as GLIS (searchable geoscience database)(Ref. 18) and HEPNIC (a physics
The final group of facilities concerns virtual reality activities. As is to be
expected perhaps, this is still largely the realm of the less convential web sites. It is
beyond the resources of most schools to provide realtime data online even if they did
have suitable material. Yet there are many realtime links on the Internet which are of
great relevance to education. One example is Bradford University´s robotic telescope
(Ref. 27) in the UK, where the non-professional user can submit customised requests
for images of particular objects at a chosen time. These are processed according to
certain rules of precedence. Only 6% of highschools and 10% of universities provided
direct links to such sites and then the most popular were to realtime radio links which
are beyond the hardware capabilities of the average school user in most parts of the
world at the moment.
Brief comment on the results
The most diverse, but also the most intense use of the Internet as an educating medium
appears to be by the universities. On the whole the highschool web pages are still at
the initial stages of development and their use is somewhat limited as yet, being
restricted to a relatively few functions such as providing links to popular science sites
or displaying class work, often as part of a joint school scheme. In particular there are
gaps in the services provided which are really essential to the academic success of
such pages. Mainly these concern the range of www links offered and the degree of
help and guidance offered to the student as regards the significance, quality and type of
the links. This is perhaps only a reflection of the situation on the Internet in general and
is one of the major issues being addressed, mainly by librarians, at present, who have
started to develop classification and organizational schemes for the flood of
multimedial material which has suddenly been added to the existing paper-based
resources. Some of the university departments have attempted subject-based
classifications with the student end user in mind but generally there is great room for
development in this area. The less conventional web sites appear to be more awake to
the complete range of opportunities offered by the Internet to education, but individual
web sites of this type tend to concentrate on only a few restricted fields of activity.
There is very little consistency or standardisation in educational web pages.
While some web pages consist of mainly text-based material, others like the Allan
Hancock College in California (Ref. 28), have a special online "learning resource
center" and at the University of Texas (Ref. 11) a "virtual campus" requires high
bandwidth and multimedia plug-ins in order to function properly. Within web pages
there are great differeneces as regards layout and organization. Links to reference
resources are sometimes to be found on the main page but also somewhere further down
the heirarchal scheme. Some pages attempt to classify by topic or project while others
appear to develop according to the whims of the authors. Perhaps this is in keeping
with the freedom ethic of the Internet and should be welcomed within the education
sphere where innovation has always been part of the learning process. However, for
the student end user, such anarchy can lead to frustration and confusion. So far, few
studies have examined how students actually use educational homepages or how they
react to them, although an observational study on how students search for information
on the Internet is a step in the right direction (Ref. 29). The present work does not
address this problem directly, but it does seek to evaluate the quality of educational
web pages in the three survey groups as objectively as possible and to assess their
value to the highschool student, thereby highlighting some of the areas where
improvement could be made.
Ideas for imposing some scheme of quality control on Internet information have
been there from very early on, although how effective they have been is a matter for
conjecture. Attempts at quality control in a general way on the Internet are apparent in
at least 3 main areas and their significance to this study are now briefly discussed.
1. The overall quality of individual web sites. Several schemes have attained
popularity, the better known of which include the Magellan star rating scheme (Ref.
30). A team of writers and editors reviews the sites and advice is sought from
academics and professionals. The actual rating ranges from one to four stars and is
based on a 10 point score in three areas. These are the depth, ease of exploration and
net appeal, all of which are defined quite clearly. Further information on the evaluation
of a particular site can be obtained by selecting "Review" on the site concerned.
Other similar schemes include IWAY 500 (Ref. 31 and appendix 1) who
provide their reviewers with detailed guidelines on how to award points and also
provide the end user with this information. Each web site is evaluated in 7 main areas
ranging from content to performance with a maximum score of between 50 and 100 in
each category. The UK´s ARC site (Ref. 32) has a similar star rating system to
Magellan´s but in addition invites the end user to vote on the site using online forms.
The results of the voting are presumably incorporated in the overall rating.
Yet another evaluation scheme is the "Top 5%" from Lycos (Ref. 33). This
provides a quite detailed summary on the main features and content of the best sites
classified by type. A maximum score of 50 is awarded in the areas of experience,
content and presentation. Attempts to discover how the selection is made, including
direct enquiry, have not been successful so far.
While stressing that all these schemes are useful and to be welcomed, they do
have serious limitations. Especially, it is by no means clear as for whom they are
intended and therein lies their main weakness. The idea of giving a web site a star
rating is rather akin to giving a library book an overall rating for the general reader,
allbeit by an expert in the field. Like books, web sites range from highly subject-
specific to frivolous and a simple rating of this type can hardly be of more value than
Malpin´s well known (and useful) film ratings. Nevertheless these schemes do provide
a measure of the general quality of web pages which should certainly be incorporated
in a scheme specifically aimed at judging quality for the end user.
2. The selection of the published material and in particular the selection of the www
links which are included on the web pages.
Many web sites contain several links to other web sites and some consist
almost entirely of such links. It is obviously of value to know what selection criteria, if
any, have been used in choosing sites for inclusion. Some major web sites have
addressed this issue and as a result the end user can have some confidence in the
authority of the information he obtains there. An outstanding example is the World-
Wide Web Virtual Library maintained by CERN (Ref. 9). All www links in the
various categories of this online resource library are selected by experts in their
respective fields. The criteria they use have been listed in a survey conducted by
Matthew Ciolek (Ref. 34) and give priority to issues like content substance, lack of
repetition of links and the credentials of the authors, while also including many more
mundane things like ease of navigation. Thus they exclude, for instance, sites which
consist of links which are included in any case in their own listings. Combined with a
strong classification scheme (Library of Congress), this puts the WWW Virtual Library
resources on a quite different level than many other resource sites.
A somewhat different approach is used by various clearing houses. Argus (Ref.
35), a private organisation whose clients include universities, gives very detailed
information on online subject guides in many fields. Each guide is rated in 5 separate
categories and in addition the credentials of the authors of the information concerned is
described in some detail. This "guide to the guides" seems a very simple and effective
method and should be an important starting point for any web page author.
In contrast the www links on most search engine web pages are added by
computer searching through URLs, titles, first and last lines of text, or summaries.
Admittedly this type of selection is always improving, but lacks the expert judgement of
large professional library-type resource banks. For the student or the teacher-student
team, a single, reliable and well organised resource reference in a particular field is
probably the most valuable resource there is. This issue will be discussed in more
3. The effectiveness of search engines.
Because of the unstructured nature of the Web in general and its lack of central
control of any kind, computer programmes or the so-called search engines have been
rapidly developed to find information by subject and in various ways. In turn there
have been many attempts to assess the effectiveness of the search engines themselves.
The best are very sofisticated indeed and if used properly and by well-educated
professional people who have sufficient understanding of exactly what they want, they
can be very effective. Unfortunately, when used casually or by an end user with limited
experience such as the highschool student, they can lead to dissatisfaction, confusion or
misunderstanding over the results they produce. A typical example might be the student
who requires information on the main eruption products of volcanoes. For want of
vocabulary he or she enters volcanic+eruption as keywords in a simple no-options Alta
Vista search. The results comprise >10,000 matching hits of which the first 10 include
a question from a 10 year old, information on earthquakes and eruption, the effects of
eruption on climatic change and nothing which has any direct bearing on his topic of
interest. Having spent most of the class time in perusing further hits and quite possibly
becoming sidetracked by some of them, he is likely to conclude that there is nothing on
the Internet about that particular topic. Many studies have been made on the relative
value of search engines.(Ref. 36, 37, 38). A comparative evaluation of Lycos,
webCrawler, Worm, Harvest, Galaxy and Yahoo by Ian Winship (Ref. 36)) concluded
that there were very large differences between the number of hits when searching for a
very specific subject (in his study "the ebola virus") and using different search engines.
There was a very high degree of repitition in two of the search engine hits. He
concludes that record stucture and search technique are of far greater importance than
number of hits and that use of structured resource collections such as WWW Virtual
Library (Ref. 9) or BUBL (Ref. 39), or a subject gopher would probably be of more
value, at least initially. In the present author´s experience few students will start off by
using a subject tree, even when it contains information resources directly related to the
problem in hand and they will steer clear of a gopher service, even after having been
taught how it is constructed and how it works. Yet another aspect of web searching is
the relevance of the retrieved resource. Some search engines like Lycos and Galaxy
give a score depending on correlation with key words used in the search. Scores of
this type have, of course, nothing whatsoever to do with the actual value of the resource
to the end user. For the student, some systematic approach will be necessary to
compare and evaluate what he or she has retrieved.
The searchability of web pages and the methods offered are key issues in
evaluating their quality to the end user. As people make more practical use of the
Internet in their own particular field, they become more aware of the quality issue and
already some moves have been made at highschool level to insure a minimal standard
for publishing on the Internet. The Education Network of Australia (EdNA) has defined
in some detail standards in the areas of content, the decisions made by the assessors,
the balance of material and codes of practice (Ref. 40). The Canadian School Net has
published guidelines for student projects on the Web which deal with such items as
page structure, language, content, graphics and the server (Ref. 41). The Classroom
Connect (Ref. 42) produces a student handout which is a short checklist for evaluating
online information retrieved during in-class internet sessions.
Development of an instrument for evaluating educational webpage quality.
The evaluation of information quality is by no means a new idea. It is a well
known and much used research tool in industry and business. Essentially the problems
are the same, whether dealing with customers who buy information within the
constraints of their financial situation or students seeking curriculum-relevant
information through the Internet according to their technical means. In a series of
papers published as the Proceedings of a NORDINFO seminar at the Royal School of
Librarianship, Copenhagen (Ref. 43) which dealt mainly with electronic information
quality in the business sector, there is close agreement in many of the articles on what
the main indicators of information quality should be. These are conveniently
summarised by Schwuchow (Ref. 44) as follows:
reliability in the provision of the services
up-to-dateness of the delivered information
novelety of the delivered information
speed or frequency of the information provision
completeness of the information
selectivity of the information
relevance or specifity of the information
integrity of the information
security of the information provision
user friendliness, user effort
flexibility of the information services
accessibility of the information devices
The same author also makes the conclusion that every evaluation of information quality
is by nature subjective, that there is no single overall measure for information quality
and that any overall evaluation will necessarily be very complex. Having said that,
however, there has been a tendency in information retrieval research in recent years, to
put the emphasis on end user factors, rather than the system itself (e.g. Ref. 45). This
has also been a guiding principle in the construction of the evaluation instrument used in
|Overall design and choice of quality indicators|
A consideration of the general comments above and of the survey results
suggested a four-fold quality index, the main categories of which are listed below. The
complete evaluation form is given in Appendix 2.
The general, interactive quality of the web pages
The information quality provided on the web pages
The pedagogic value of the information and information as presented on
the web pages.
The quality as percieved by the end user
It was assumed that the end user would be an enroled highschool student (Icelandic
education system) working mainly at a terminal in class, but occasionally at home. All
the evaluation forms were filled in by the present author, but some forms were also
completed for criticism and discussion by students at the Department of Library
Studies, the University of Iceland. Five of these students also completed the quality
evaluation for the same site (The University of Iceland web site (Ref. 46)). The
variance between operators for each of the 5 pages of the survey was calculated
afterwards and was found to be between 4,02% and 16,2%, being most for page 1,
which measured the general quality. Each part of the evaluation was allocated a
maximum score of 100, making a maximum total possible score of 400. This was done
partly to enable a rough comparison to be made with results which would be returned
by the Iway 500 evaluation scheme, but this is not discussed further.
The indicators chosen in the first two categories (general quality and
information quality), are based partly on existing quality evaluation schemes and
theoretical discussion of quality evaluation in the literature. They are also based to a
large extent on actual use of science educational web pages at the present time, as
indicated by the survey conducted in this project. Some of the indicators are allocated
a single point, while others are graded between 1 and 3 points depending on their
relative merit. This is a subjective weighting of the indicators, but an attempt was
made to distribute the points fairly equally between the main function groupings. Some
emphasis is placed on the quality of the www links and their organization on the web
pages. Any score is positive and no detractive indicators are used. Thus a web site
may score well if it provides either good quality original material or good well
organised www links. If both services are provided, then the site will rate as
outstanding in this category.
The second two categories (pedagogic quality and end user quality) are those
least considered or even ignored by most existing general quality evaluation schemes
for web pages. The indicators have been chosen partly on the basis of what has been
found on existing web pages in the survey already discussed and partly on personal
experience as a teacher of science subjects for the past 25 years. It is therefore hoped
that the evaluation instrument measures from the worst to the best possible case.
Emphasis has been placed on features which relate students to the real world and
provide them with experiences they could not otherwise have. In one or two instances
the same indicator has been included in more than one categogy, but this is rare.
A total of 34 web pages was evaluated using the instrument, with approximately
the same number in each of the three categories of web pages as used in the first survey.
Some of the pages were selected randomly from the existing survey data on Internet use,
while others were new sites evaluated directly online. As in the case of the Internet use
survey, the pages varied from single homepages to large university web pages. In order
to obtain a clearer view of the results they were plotted in various combinations in
Figures 1 to 5. The general quality of pages, comprising such items as whether contact
information is given, ease of navigation and whether the aims of the pages are given, is
high in almost all cases, the score being over 80 for the majority of sites, but the
highschools score consistently lower than the other web sites, around half of them
getting a score below 80 (Figure 1). Because the quality in the first category (general)
was consistently high it is possible to ignore it for the purpose of filtering out the
differences in overall quality between the 3 groups of web page types. In order to
compare the three groups, the information quality has been plotted against pedagogic
quality in Figure 2 and, in a separate figure (Figure 3), against end user quality.
Several trends emerge from these plots.
1. In both diagrams there is an approximately linear correlation between the quality of
the information itself, as offered on the pages and either pedagogic quality or end user
quality. In other words, if the basic information is of good quality, then the other
aspects of the pages have also been treated with some care.
2. On both diagrams the data separates fairly clearly into the three groups studied. The
highschools have the lowest quality and the universities have the highest and the latter
form a quite restricted high-quality group, particularly in the diagram showing
information quality plotted against end user quality. One or two highschools approach
the universities on these plots, but they are the exception. The non-traditional web sites
show the greatest range in quality but are to be rated along with the universities as
regards end user quality. As regards pedagogic value, they range from rather poor (20)
to very good (60). The values fill the theoretical range for information vs, end user
quality, whereas no web site included in the survey achieves a higher score than 60 as
regards pedagogic quality. It may be argued that this reflects an unrealistic choice of
indicators or faulty instrument design (unachieveable goals), but it is believed rather to
indicate that the enormous potential for the teaching opportunities which the Internet
offers, have as yet barely been tapped.
The best overall indicator of quality can be provided by combining the
pedagogic and end user values (as the mean) and plotting them against information
quality. This is shown in Figure 4. The conclusion is that the university web pages, at
present, provide very useful sources of information which is pitched in a manner as to
be of real value to the highschool student. Interestingly, the Internet use survey showed,
however, that a mere 6% of highschools provide links to university sites on their web
pages. Many of the non-traditional web sites also provide potentially highly relevant
information for students, but there is a great range and judgement is necessary in
choosing between sites which have a high information value as opposed to a high
pedagogic value. It is interesting that if the actual information quality is ignored
(Figure 5), then there is a much greater distribution of values in all of the groups and the
highschools fare better, though hardly well. This may indicate that, while their pages
succeed to some extent on issues like the level of material and selected pedagogic
attributes, there are rather serious shortcomings in the quality of the information itself.
In fact these are mainly in the type and credibility of the links used and also in the
organization, classification and degree of annotation offered with them on the school
Further surveys involving direct observation or questioning of students engaged
in online work could confirm these conclusions, or enable ammendments to be made to
the evaluation instrument.
Both the survey on the use of Internet and the evaluation of information quality
give some idea of the present status of science educational web pages. The work
highlights weaknesses in the design of existing web pages claiming to be educational in
the field of science. At the same time the work has identified many outstanding
educational web sites and features in web pages which even represent the state of the
art in science teaching in general. Although highschool web pages are obviously in
fashion, their overall role seems to be rather vague and as a subject-based teaching
method they have far to go. Most of the immediate gains are to be had by adopting the
best ideas from the university and non-traditional pages, but there are still many
unsolved problems. Some of the main issues raised by the work are summarised below
as a series of questions which will now be discussed briefly.
Has online networking a major role to play in science teaching?
Much has already been written about the problems and advantages of using
computer technology, in general, for learning and teaching. But most computer assisted
learning (CAL), up until now, has been rather demanding on both teacher and student
and it is usually highly specific in application. For a while the CD-ROM looked like
being the most promising development and many high quality examples are in use in
science teaching in schools throughout the world. They offer a good mixture of text,
images, video and sound and in this respect they go much further than the text book can
possibly do in explaining the practical aspects of science topics which are so essential
to a proper understanding. Although further advances in this field (Ref. 47 )are likely
to ensure them a good future, there are nevertheless limitations with CD-ROMs.
Pedagogically they are not unlike books. They are expensive and become outdated
quickly. In networking situations they can also produce technical problems which are
likely to lead to frustration. Finally, to be of any real use, the student must have access
to quite a few of them.
Many of the difficulties inherent in these "traditional" computer modes of
teaching can be put right by the use of the Internet. The statistics for Internet use which
have been described above highlight some advantages for the general student, in
several directions. The Internet can be used both locally, through a LAN link and also
at great distance, by way of www links. The student can explore locally and generally
in this highly flexible environment. All the important advantages of CD technology,
such as image quality, video and sound are possible. Admittedly these are not all
universally available yet, but technical advances in data handling and transfer are
extremely rapid and are, in fact, occurring mainly in the Internet environment. An
example is the appearance of Future Splash (Ref. 48) image and animation software
which makes very efficient use of bandwidth and has great potential in science
For the science student in particular, there are several innovative opportunities
offered by the Internet which have a strong pedagogic value and which the present work
serves to underline. The boom in the use of the Internet as a teaching mode should
hopefully help improve the generally low interest in school science which has
predominated over the past years.
Firstly there is access to a wider range of resources than those available in
traditional libraries, as well as the same resources online in some cases. Obvious
examples include extensive image resources, including satellite images, such as those
held at the National Space Science Data Center (USA) (Ref 49).
Secondly the student has access to front line scientific groups and organisations,
either as active participants in online projects such as or as "lurkers" who simply
observe what is happening. A good example is the Connected Classroom Dynamic
Modelling Project (USA K-16 level)(Ref. 50), which links students to the National
Center for Supercomputing Applications. Further examples include the "ask a
geologist" pages such as those offered by the US Geological Survey (Ref. 51), or the
"ask an expert" pages of the New Jersey Infrastructure in Education (Ref. 52). To a
small and geographically isolated nation like Iceland, the chance to make contact with
such groups and with his or her student peers has great significance.
In some cases the student has instant access to raw data at almost the same time
as scientists, an example being the earthquake data offered by the many seismographic
stations throughout the world, through, for instance, the IRIS Global Seismic Network
(Ref. 53). Many large research institutions, such as NASA and NOAA, have started to
take their educational obligations very seriously indeed with the development of the
Internet sometimes with little co-operation with national education authorities. Yet
others have decided to get involved with the educational world for the first time. The
reasons are not always clear and in some cases it seems to be a matter of having the
educational role thrust upon them. Perhaps it follows on from the news element or
advertising element which seems to pervade Internet. It is difficult to forecast how this
situation will develop, but teachers should be aware of the opportunities available and
should approach industry and the private sector with ideas for online information and
joint projects. A preliminary attempt at this by the present author in Iceland has met
with favorable reaction from most of those organisations contacted.
Thirdly, access to topical scientific information such as that provided by news
providers or e-journals offers an opportunity to understand what science does and
relates it to the real world. Sky and Telescope online (Ref. 54) is an e-journal in the
astronomy field, updated at 15:00 (eastern USA time) every Friday. NASA also
produces detailed news reports online (Ref. 55) and makes a point of putting space
probe images online almost as soon as they are processed. Of course instant access is
not everything and such dramatic events must be backed up with solid theoretical and
properly structured coursework, whether online or otherwise, but neither should the
stimulative value of the news element to the student be underestimated. Access to
realtime information is yet another largely unexplored opportunity in teaching web
pages, as the survey has shown.
Yet another opportunity is that interdisciplanary learning is easier and naturally
encouraged by the Internet environment. In spite of this, Figure 6, which was
constructed from the quality evaluation data shows that only 23% of highschools choose
to provide such links on their web pages. The interdisciplanary connections can be
made within the same web pages or they can be truly cross-curricular and cross-
national in nature. An example might be the student who starts off by following links on
the subject of lunar rocks. This might in turn lead to links concerning crystallography
and crystal chemistry, which operate at a smaller scale. Alternatively, he may be
stimulated into investigating links dealing with the whole problem of space exploration
and even human factors. To deal with the same questions would require several
major textbooks. This 3 - dimensional aspect may turn out to be one of the crucial
issues in Internet learning, for it both opens possibilities and raises new problems. On
the positive side it maintains a high interest level and frees the student from his
tendency to compartmentalise subjects, a pedagogic problem long recognised by
educators. On the other hand, if he is to benefit from this new free environment, then
the student must have strong guidance of some kind. Ideally this should come from the
front line teacher who has the most direct contact with the student and therein lies at
least one good reason for involving the teacher with web page construction. If handled
right, the very idea of hypertext links is a powerful means of encouraging students to
develop clear and logical paths of thought, in a way which has never been as clearly
defined. With each choice of link he is in effect making a decision which determines
what happens next and what the consequences to his knowledge are likely to be.
Teachers should put at least as much effort into developing these student skills as in
finding where the best links are, for they do not come easily at first.
On an even larger scale, cross linking has the potential to provide collaboration
and co-operation across industry and education sectors, both private and public. This
has always been recognised as an important facet of learning, but practical
considerations have often prevented it. Industry in particular, seems to see gains to be
made in such school contact. A clear example of this is provided by the Monterey Bay
Futures Network in California, which is an ISDN network linking schools, institutes
and private business via a regional electronic library (REEL) in "the ultimate
electronic fieldtrip" (Ref. 56). This project was evolved partly as the result of drastic
economic changes in the area following the end of the Cold War and the closure of
As the surveys indicate, the highschools have barely started to explore these
possibilities. The universities and non traditional web sites have done better, but on
the other hand little knowledge is yet available about how much students are actually
learning from such innovations. The more the student gets online, the easier many tasks
become. He or she can access almost everything needed from the same terminal. But is
there a sufficient degree of direct personal contact and tutoring? Probably most of the
contact required in a student-teacher relationship can be handled through e-mail, BBS,
forms and computer conferencing. The Open University in the UK has been using such
methods since 1993 and reports that the latter teaching mode is very popular with
students (Ref. 57). My own experience is that highschool students are much more open
and expressive when using e-mail than in class situations.
Like many developments in computing in education, much of what is being done
on the Internet comes from the bottom up at present. This has its advantages and
encourages teachers who have an interest to become directly involved from the very
start. New easy to use web page authoring tools such as Microsoft´s Frontpage are
likely to encourage even more to be come involved. However, if there is to be
development in the most valuable pedagogic areas, which is where there is most room
for improvement and possibly where most is to be gained, then help will have to come
through funding for suitable netware and computer facilities in the highschools.
Are highschool subject-based web pages necessary and do they have a clearly defined
The sheer amount of easily accessible information resources and the appearance
of more and more high quality educational science web pages raise the question of
whether there is anything left to do for the teacher on the Web. Does each school really
need subject-based web pages consisting of links to space science and volcanic
hazards´sites, when the big organisations are doing such an excellent job? Anyone
who has been involved with the Internet and education for even a short time has
probably asked themselves whether schools or teachers will even be necessary in the
years ahead. The same kind of questions have doubtless been asked by librarians and
many others who have been occupied in the business of disseminating information-
based knowledge. I believe that the teacher will not only be necessary, but that he or
she will have more time and freedom to concentrate on actually teaching and making
use of his experience and he will have better techniques and skills to help him. But at
the same time because of the enormous amount of often fragmental information, the
teacher will be under even greater pressure to provide perspective and guidance on the
subject of information itself. Designing and using a suitable web page is very much a
part of this.
In general terms educational science web pages must perform several functions.
Just having a web site is an important step, putting the end user in direct contact with
everyone else on the Internet. The pages should act as a buffer between the student and
the information world. They should be his guiding hand through the anarchic Internet
world, distinguishing between what is reliable, what is scholarly and what is
incidental. If necessary they should filter information, while preserving as much
freedom of choice as possible.
In particular the pages must help the student to decide and define clearly what it
is that he needs and wants to know. An essential part of this will be understanding how
information is organised. Not only must the pages teach about the subject, but also about
how to effectively retrieve useful information. A part of this process will be teaching
the student how to develop paths of thought, as mentioned earlier.
The web pages should also put the student in contact with the real world and
with his peers. Finally they should enable the student to combine his local educational
situation with the equally important global environment. This is very relevant in
science which philosophically should have no boundaries. In the final section of this
paper some practical ways in which these ideals can be implemented will be outlined.
How should information resources be organised on the web pages?
As the surveys have indicated, the greatest single function of educational web
pages in science at the present time is to provide links to other www sites and indeed
some sites consist of practically nothing else. However as the surveys also indicate,
there is a general lack of classification and organisation of these links, particularly on
the school web pages. Similarly, description of the links is usually absent. Some of
these shortcomings are summarised in Figure 7. The limitations of the search engines
have already been mentioned. The organisation of links is likely to remain a central
issue in web page authoring in the foreseeable future and deserves special treatment.
If the links provided on school web pages are to be of any real value, then
authors and teacher-users need to be aware of what is being done in general on the
Internet to deal with the increasing flow and diversity of information resources. They
should know what library organisations and universities throughout the world are doing
to catalog world wide web sites and to develop metadatabases which help in
identifying, locating and describing information resources. Finally they should
encourage and work closely with their local library resource, whether it be within the
school or elsewhere, to ensure that the relevant subject resources will be accessed and
that they will be organised and cataloged according to a system which conforms to
good practice and is capable of evolving to meet future changes on the Internet. A brief
discussion of several projects which deal with organisation on the Web illustrates the
more practical advantages to be gained from such an approach.
The CyberStacks project (Ref. 58) at Iowa State University is a prototype
service (as a demonstration), which originally aimed to enhance access and use of
Internet resources in science and technology by cataloging Internet resources according
to the Library of Congress classification scheme, although other methods for identifying
and selecting relevant resources have since been incorporated. The scheme enables the
user to browse a virtual library by broad classification (e.g.Science (Q)), then
narrower subclasses (e.g. Geology (QE)) and finally an actual listing which includes a
description, and even instructions on using the resource (e.g. QL 76.5.U6)). Highschool
web page authors who are intending to include previously unclassified links on their
pages could do worse than emulate this scheme of classification, especially if the
subject range is likely to be large. A copy of the record format used by CyberStacks is
included in apendix 3.
There are many other large virtual libraries organised entirely or partly on
existing library classification schemes. Any of them could be readily included in
highschool web pages, or the URLs of the sections relevant to a particular subject could
be included. The most suitable include the BUBL subject tree (Bath, UK)(Ref. 39)
where resources are classified according to the Universal Decimal Classification
system (UDC). This service is to be further improved in a new Libraries of Networked
Knowledge project (LINK) which will combine a gopher server with the existing web
server. CyberDewey (Ref. 59), provides thousands of links to all branches of science,
classified according to the Dewey system. One advantage of this very comprehensive
site is that most students are already familiar with the Dewey system through their
school library, so that a strong connection is provided between the online world and
their local educational environment, including the school library. Since 1993, there
have been moves towards developing library systems which are more integrated with
the world wide web. As part of the Nordic WAIS/World Wide Web Project (Ref. 60),
an existing library system (the ALIS system of the National Technological Library of
Denmark) was successfully integrated with the WWW . While the online teacher or
student does not need to know how all this is done, these are nevertheless
developments which will affect them directly. The WWW Virtual Library (Ref. 9) is
also very comprehensive and can be accessed by Library of Congress headings, if
required, or alphabetically. There are many other examples. The point is that any one
of these is better than none at all and should be given serious consideration when the
web pages are being set up, whether included as a major information resource centre,
or as a classification system for selected www links which the web author includes on
the school page. Complete lists of Dewey Decimal numbers and subjects can even be
obtained online these days, to facilitate the teacher and librarian in this task (e.g. Ref.
As time goes on the end user can expect such metadatabases to include more
diverse resources and to improve in quality, for much research is being carried out.
The Resource Organisation and Discovery in Subject-based Services (ROADS) project
(Ref. 62) is one of several Access to Network Resources Projects of the Electronic
Libraries Programme at Bath, UK (Ref. 63), which is designing a user-orientated
resource discovery system. The main advantage of the system is that it will be based
on a database containing information not only on such items as the title of the resource
and how to access it, but also description and keywords. Classification numbers, for
example from the UDC scheme will allow a subject tree to be automatically created
and easily browsed. The ROADS system is already being piloted with the Organising
Medical Networked Information project (OMNI) (Ref. 64), a resource which is already
popular with people at several academic levels.
Other schemes for organising web resources abound, which are not necessarily
based on an existing library scheme. Some of them are very large and essential
information sources for highschool students involved in subject-based classwork. An
example is the NASA Master Directory (Ref. 65), which is a searchable online,
multidisciplinary database of science information from around the world. It is really
intended for the NASA research community and others who have common interests.
That includes most earth- and life-scientists today. It contains a very wide range of
subjects of direct interest to highschool students and includes teaching resources.
Detailed descriptions of the data holdings are provided, but they are listed only
alphabetically. Another very useful example in the fields of biology and chemistry is
the Biotech resource (Ref. 66), which has been developed as the result of a joint
project between Indiana University, USA and 3 other American universities. It is
interesting that, although developed by a university, the stated mission of Biotech
includes such aims as "to make BioTech as useful a tool to a high school student as it is
to a postdoctoral fellow" and "to utilize the .........World Wide Web as a means of
bringing information about the broad scope of biology into view of as many people
from as many educational levels as possible". This very impressive site offers
dictionaries, science resources, educational resources and guides, professional
resources, literature resources and much more, all in a very interactive environment.
The teacher web author needs to seek out such comprehensive sites, for they ensure
quality. A suitable and reliable starting point for this might be the Argus Clearinghouse
site (Ref. 35), cited above.
There remains the question of search engines. They are definitly essential, but
certainly overrated and misunderstood by the average student user. They should
certainly be included in any scheme of organisation, but in such a way as to be
supportive to the structured search mechanisms. Possibly Galaxy is one of the better
ones in this respect, since it offers the option of distinguishing between gopher or telnet
search hits at the search start. As such it is a useful learning tool for the student end
user. The Deja News search engine for newsgroups should also be considered since so
much basic information caan be obtained from merely following the discussions that
take place in the scientific news groups. However, generally speaking, participation by
highschool students is not to be encouraged.
What are the essential features necessary for the success of a highschool science web
Based on the observations which have been made of both shortcomings and
outstanding features in existing web pages, several conclusions can be reached as
regards the essential features which should be aimed at.
* There must be some clear statement of what the pages are trying to do as well as how
they should be used. Each of the main functions on the front page should be briefly
described, possibly with examples of its use. Many good web sites offer a "tour",
which in the case of highschool educational pages could be in the form of a hypothetical
problem solving project. There should be guidance lines suggesting where the student
should start, depending on what general task he intends to perform, such as looking for
basic learning material, looking for illustrative material, or seeking contact with his
* The pages must fulfill the basic requirements of the "general quality" index as
outlined in the survey (see Appendix 2). These include good navigation features and a
suitable title. Several essential features for good library homepages have been
summarised by Anne Clyde (Ref. 67) and all of them apply equally well to highschool
pages. The question of heavy graphics and high tech features such as video, sound or
animation, which require high bandwidth and good computer facilities presents a
problem. These features should be avoided as part of basic opening and menu pages
between which the user will move frequently. However, in most science subjects,
which deal with things, they are one of the basic reasons for setting up web pages.
They should, therefore, be included in quantity but their organisation treated carefully,
so that they appear as options which the user can open if his hardware allows.
However, this may put unfair pressure on the student to upgrade and the education
authorities should be expected to react positively.
* The main areas or functions of science web pages in the immediate future seem to be
already reasonably well defined. They act as a control station for gathering and
organising both local and global information resources. At the same time they can be
an extremely suitable environment for learning how to build pathways of thought
between the various topics and subject areas with which science deals. At least three
backbone elements of science thinking are facilitated by having a school subject-
orientated web site. These are access and aquisition of data, observation of situations
and events in the real world and contact with peers. These elements are presented
together with other important functions and features of good science web pages in
schematic form in Figure 8. The diagram is not intended to be a model for constructing
web pages, but rather a simplified overview of the main ideas resulting from this work.
Apart from basic course information, teaching notes, practical assignments and
homework are amongst the functions which have appeared in the surveys but these have
only been used to some extent on school web pages. One greatly underused opportunity
is to put on the web pages collections of local resources such as field trip images,
biology sample images, thin sections, or experimental results data. This need not be
accompanied by more text than is required for simple classification purposes. By
housing such material on the web server, rather than on a local area network, the
student has access to it at any time. Another area involving local effort is publishing
on the Web. This is a worthwhile activity for it offers the student an incentive even if
only for vanity, and a chance for peer comparison. However, like all publishing, it
needs control. There should be a viable reason for publishing and it should follow
some code of practice along the lines of the Canadian and Australian examples
mentioned earlier. Also the page maintainers should not ignore the option of removing
outdated or incidental material. The chances and consequences of the published
material being detected in someone else´s search should also be understood by the
The key issues as regards provision of links to other sites have already been
discussed in a general way. A customised collection of subject-based links is very
useful, especially if it is directly related to the student´s curriculum. But there should
be a strong classification scheme and good annotation with all the links. The annotation
should be end user orientated and descriptive. It should take account of his or her level
of study. Brief general comments like "good" or "excellent site" are really of little
value. Some indication of the hardware requirements can also help a student in
choosing between web sites.
In particular, there should always be links to authoritative and comprehensive
links on the subject dealt with by the web pages. These may include the major "virtual
libraries" and subject-specific databases, carefully chosen. A description and
explanation of such professional databases is particularly necessary for the highschool
student and should accompany the link, possibly even as a separate intermediate web
page which he must read before continuing to the link itself. This will be a few
moments well spent. Links to these web sites may best be achieved through the school
library web pages, if they exist and this is possibly the best way to go in the future.
Ideally there should also be a link to the school library itself and also to the school´s
local area network, where further non-browser applications may be started and data
accessed. There are various ways of achieving fairly seamless networking of this kind.
One example has recently been given from Iceland (Ref. 68).
* There is a case for grouping links also by function. The high tech sites providing
faetures like video and digitised data in realtime are likely to be activities for which
the student will probably need an entire class period, even with good hardware.
However, within the realtime category it is a relatively simple matter to classify the
various links by subject according to, for instance, the Dewey system, thereby
shortening the initial search time, while providing a sense of continuity with other
material on the pages.
Similarly science education pages should include a news element, a global
element and a contact element. There is no single best way of presenting these themes
but as is the case for the realtime data there are good arguments for presenting these as
special categories, for they are specific functions or ways of thinking and are part of the
essence of the Internet. There should, however, be an attempt at classification within
these groups, so that collections of links can grow in an orderly way..
The world wide web environment is highly suitable pedagogically for science
learning. The present situation is not one for complacency, however. Highschools
have yet to make full use of practically all the opportunities offered by the Internet. In
this respect they can usefully emulate, allbeit on a smaller scale, the work of the
universities, who generally have well organised framework web pages. It is very
important that web page design address the issue of organising and classifying
information resources, so that students do not run the risk of being satisfied, but
unsuccessful information searchers. Highschool science teachers and students can also
look to many of the non-traditional web sites for stimulating ideas which may give
science teaching the much-needed boost it needs.
appendix 1. Iway 500 form
appendix 2. Quality evaluation form
appendix 3. Record format used by CyberStacks.
Georg R Douglas - Report carried out within the Library
and Information Science Programme,
Dept. of Social Sciences, University of Iceland, 1997