Sunday, January 30, 2005

nptech tag

I have been posting links to the nptech tag on

I am really enjoying this because for the past year I have been adding links to my bookmarks that are non-profit organizations that relate to technology, web design companies that design websites for non-profit, and any articles that interested me relating to nonprofits and technology.

I had started adding these links to my bookmarks because one of my career goals is to find a job relating to non-profits and technology. But since I have started using the nptech tag, I have been adding links to websites that might not interest me, but might interest someone else who is interested in non-profits and technology. For example, some of the websites that I was saving in my bookmarks were mainly organizations and companies in the DC area because I hope to find a job there. Since I have been adding links to the nptech tag, I have also been adding links to webpages in other areas.

After reading the messages on the discussion on TechSoup this past week on accessible websites, I realized that is a big issue in non-profit websites. I started adding links to websites about accessibility, web standards, and usability that could help non-profits.

This is still just the beginning of the nptech tag, and I am looking forward to seeing how it progresses.

If you want to read more about nptech, here are some links-

Time to get serious about the Nonprofit Technology Taxonomy Experiment

Folks are jumping on to the tagging experiment

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Community Technology Review

I recently browsed through the Winter 2005 Community Technology Review and found 2 articles that really interested me.

The was first article was "An Introduction to The Journal of Community Informatics". This intrested me because I recently graduated college with a degree in Informatics. I recently heard of community informatics and I really would like to learn more about it. I completed a course called Social Informatics and it seems like the topics are very similar. I am not sure how the two are different.

The second article that interested me was "An Interactive, Web-based Training for Teenage Mentors". I was very interested in reading this article because one of my career goals is to develop web-based training. When I first heard of training, I thought it meant corporate training which is really not my first choice in developing training. However, I am now realizing that training can be in an educational, non-profit, or government setting. That interests me alot more.

Until I read the article, I had never thought of training youth for non-profit volunteering or work. Developing e-learning for youth is something I would enjoy doing. It could either be e-learning with educational topics (school subjects) or non-profit training.

Since I am interested in web-based training I viewed the demonstration. I really thought the training was developed well. I really liked the open ended questions and who wants to be a mentor activities. However, there should have been another interactive activity to test their knowledge on on confidentiality. There could have been questions that asked if a topic was either an activity & skills or content of discussion.

Thanks to the article I have found another area of web-based training that interests me.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Website Validation

Last year in college I learned about validating websites when I was learning XHTML and CSS (cascading style sheets).

I haven't thought about website validation that much until this week. Techsoup is having a discussion this week on web accessible sites. Many organizations have been submitting their sites to be reviewed. One tool that is being used to check these websites is the website validator.

Since I design websites, I decided to check the validation for these websites. Most of these sites had lots of errors. Even though I am still learning the standards, I was surprised to see some of these errors. There were so many errors with the HTML code. I noticed on a couple of sites that there was more than one body or html tag, and that really bothered me. Another common error I saw was closing a tag that was not open. Almost all the errors on these sites were with the img tag not having the alt attribute (a text explanation of images).

After looking at these websites, I decided there is a need for nonprofits to learn more about checking for errors on their site and basic HTML knowledge.

"Digital Divide" in nonprofit websites

As someone interested in working on nonprofit websites, I have visited many different organizations/associations websites. I realized recently that there is a "digital divide" in nonprofit websites.

Many nonprofits have a website, but there are still many nonprofits that do not have a web presence. I have come up with 4 groups to describe the gap in nonprofit websites.

1) This group has had a website for years. They are up to date with the internet and knows how they can use their website effectively.

2) This group has a website, but there is still room for improvement. They have an updated website, but they are ready to redesign their site and add more features to it.

3) This group has a website but it lacks usability and has not been updated in years.

4) This group does not have a website. They do not know how a website can help their organization.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Technology in Education

Over the past 2 weeks, I have been thinking about the National Education Technology Plan and Computers in Education. As a recent college graduate who studied both Information Technology and Instructional Systems Technology, I see a great future for my career goals.

I think the biggest challenge is teacher training and integrating technology into education. Before using technology in the classroom, teachers need to make sure they know the basic computer skills (MS Office, e-mail, searching the internet, etc.) There are so many ways educators can use computers in their teaching. If a teacher has a computer with Internet access in their room, they can easily load websites in class for students to understand a topic better. Since there are many resources available for teachers to use in their lessons, how can they use all of them? They probably won’t have enough time to load each website in class, but they can easily compile a list of other resources students can access at home. This list could either be handed out in class or if a teacher has a website it could be posted up there.

Besides using technology in the classroom, teachers can also use the Internet to help them teach. There are many websites that have lesson plans listed. There are also newsgroups where teachers can exchange ideas with other teachers.

There are so many issues about how to integrate technology into education effectively. Even though I do not have classroom teaching experience, I know computer services would not be the department to help with this. Yes, they should be involved in computer related issues, but not instruction. Training staff on technology is a problem for many different fields. But technology training for teachers is different. Not only do they need to be trained on computer skills and how they can use these skills to help them teach, but they also need to learn how to use technology to help students learn. Maybe both the computer services department and curriculum and instruction department can work together to help teachers. The computer services can help them learn the skills, while curriculum and instruction can help them learn the benefits of these skills and how to integrate technology into the classroom.

Teachers can start integrating technology by having objectives or goals for each lesson. Then they can decide if media (print, video, website, multimedia) could help illustrate the topic or concept better. If media can, is there one that is more effective? Teachers also need to analyze the needs of their students. Do students not understand a concept or topic? Can technology help them understand this better?

I have already mentioned my thoughts about computer services being involved in this. However, their place is to develop websites for the school district or school. I am not sure how many school districts or schools have a website. If not all of them do or not have a well developed website, that should be part of a technology plan.

Another way computer services and the curriculum and instruction department can work together is to develop e-learning. If a school or school district chooses to do this, then the curriculum and instruction department would be responsible for writing the content, examples, and lessons. Then computer services would use this information to develop e-learning using HTML, JavaScript, Dreamweaver, Flash, and any other web development tools.

It is important that educators understand that what makes e-learning different is interactivity. When a learner answers a question on the screen, they get immediate feedback. Instead of just having a message on the screen that says wrong answer, there would be an explanation about why it wrong.

There are so many more thoughts I have about the use of technology in education and I hope one day I can make a difference. I know I would really enjoy training teachers on computer skills and how to integrate technology, designing educational websites, and developing e-learning.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Developing Teacher Training

If I were to develop teacher training, I would use the ADDIE Model (analysis,design, development, implement, evaluation), and do the following:
  1. Create a survey for teachers to fill out. This would have questions relating to technology like searching the Internet, using Microsoft Office, designing a webpage, and other topics.
  2. Look over the results and see what it is that teachers are lacking. This is very important to do because it is hard to develop training without knowing what the audience is like.
  3. Divide up the topics into different training sessions.
  4. Decide if the training would be web-based, computer-based, or in person.
  5. Write the objectives of the training session.
  6. Write the content, examples, and questions for the training session.
  7. Deliver the training.
  8. Teachers would then be asked questions related to the topic. This would not only evaluate the teacher's progress, but it would also evaluate the effectiveness of the training.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Website Pet Peeves

I have been visiting a lot of websites over the past year. I have decided that there are 3 things that bother me about websites.

Contact Information

It seems like most the websites I visit have at least an e-mail address or a web form, but what is lacking is an address or phone number. For example, I find a website for a company or organization that interests me, but I do not know where they are located without this information. It would be great to include an address or phone number, but more importantly I want to know the city or state (or country) they are located in. Not only is this information important for jobseeker like me, but it is also important to people wanting to get involved in organization or to buy services/products from companies.

Outdated Websites

I can not stress how important it is to update the website for your organization or company. There are many times I go to a website and the last update was over a year ago. Even though the organization or company will probably still provide the same services or products, the information on there is outdated.

How do I know when these pages were last updated? The person who updated the website either manually entered the date of the last update or used JavaScript to include that information. Maybe the news, calendar, or job listings have dates listed.

What if there is no date or year listed of the last update? Well, the information on the page can get confusing. For example, there is a job listed on the website that does not have a date listed. How do I know they are still hiring?

I can write so much more about my opinion on outdated websites. Please keep in mind that even though I hate going to websites that are outdated, I would rather see a website that was last updated in 2000 than a website that has no date of the last update.

Broken Links

There are are 2 categories of broken links - internal links and external links.

Internal links are links to webpages on the website. I usually do not find problems with internal on website. However, there are times when I click on link for learning more about the organization and the page is not found.

External links are links to other websites. Companies or organizations sometimes have a links page. Almost every links page I go to has a broken link or links. It really bothers me when I go to a page and over half their links are broken.

Thinking back to the outdated pages, sometimes the date is listed on the links page. Obviously if the page was last updated in 2000, there will be many broken links.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

New Year, New Blog

Last year I graduated college, this year I am starting a blog.

I plan to use this blog to write about topics that interest me.

Topics that interest me include-

1) Web Design
2) E-Learning / Web-Based Training / Instructional Technology/ Educational Technology
3) Non-Profits
4) E-Government