| The web runs on hypertext, which means that not only is it easy to
read material in a different order from that proposed
by the author — but that there is no definitive "correct"
The best way in, however, may well be what people
identify for themselves that they want to know about:
having met immediate needs they may then explore links
to contextualise their new knowledge. I have tried
to use the navigation links on the left to point you
to things which are linked.
If you want to use the site to learn
about teaching more systematically, though:
- Look at the major headings listed below: each of them will
open in a new window so you can
switch back to here with no trouble (this page will be displayed as a separate instance of
your browser on the taskbar at the bottom of your screen in Windows 9x).
- Ignore the hyperlinks as you go through the introductory stuff
under each heading.
- When you have been through everything at this level, you can
start to dig deeper and follow links to see where they take you. Some of them jump across
headings, because as with any professional practice, every bit of teaching relates to
every other bit—and I have had to restrain myself on the number of cross-links. I
hope that this process will enable you to "stitch" ideas from one place to ideas
elsewhere, and I have a fantasy that in this way we can reproduce in some small measure
the kind of conversation we might have in a class. If we were in a live class, I should be
hoping to encourage reflective practice by making these kinds of links (which is why some
of my classes seem like a series of digressions piled upon digressions — there is
method in my madness).
So this page is designed to work as a sort of Advance
Organiser, or scaffolding, for the rest of the site. (You'll find references to those
elsewhere, but it's not appropriate to insert links from here.)
Quick notes on the site design
These are included not because I claim to any expertise in
site design, but because it is a form of presentation, if not of real teaching, and so it
has some relevance.
I take seriously the research on usability (see Jakob
Nielsen's work at http://www.useit.com/)
so some of the ideas come from there: in particular —
- Not using frames: The downside of frames is that you can't
bookmark directly to a page (unless you know about right-clicking and opening in a new
- Only computer hobbyists tend to up-date their browsers, so I
am sticking to fairly conservative features
- The use only of relevant graphics: that is to speed up
download times. This page should load in about 5 seconds.
I also have a few ideas of my own, which may be nonsense, but
I'll stick with them until someone shows that they are not:
- The pages have a (light) coloured background to cut down
contrast. The contrast ratio of a conventional monitor, using transmitted light (from
behind the screen) may be (I'm guessing) about 30:1. That of ordinary paper (using
reflected light) is only about 4:1. I am convinced that trying to read large chunks of
text from a glowing white screen is hard on the eyes.
- Similarly. I have gone for a sans-serif typeface (Verdana
for preference, with Arial/Helvetica as a second
choice). Monitors are still pretty low
definition compared with proper print, and I find serifs distracting
— they look "spidery" on screen.
Finally, my apologies to dyslexic readers. I have recently
(since completing most of the site) come across some material which suggests that in-text
links and type effects such as bold, make life even more difficult for
them than normal. As you will see, I have used them, but fairly sparingly. I hope it is
not sufficient to deny anyone access.