WWW betrayal: the missing link

The ‘net dynamism is one of the reasons it’s so great: information can be disseminated quickly, efficiently, and consumably. Updating online resources makes for (near) instant updating to consumers, particularly when technologies like RSS are used. It’s all good, right?

When creating online learning spaces–within an LMS like Vista or Moodle, or via a regular web-site–it’s tempting to try leveraging web resources. And often it works really well. But sometimes it doesn’t.

Let’s say you’re writing an online course–or a face-to-face course, but you want to use some artifact online as the centre of an activity.  Here are some questions to consider:

  • What does this bring to the learning experience beyond other materials?
  • What sorts of technologies–including plug-ins and helper applications–are required for this to work?
  • Is this a broadband-dependent resource: can folks using dial-up or a 3G tethered connection still access it?
  • How confident am I that this site will be up when needed–is it a site maintained by an institution (odds are good) or individual (odds are less)?
  • What does the URL look like: if it’s got all sorts of wacky strings in the text, it’s probably been generated by a CMS…and if the site’s redesigned, will your link die? Can I easily find the page again, either by searching the Web or navigating through levels of the site?
  • What sort of back-up plan can I make, just in case? Can I use the Internet Archives, or create a web archive myself?

It’s no fun to spend hours patching holes in a course site–but it happens often. We can’t control this dynamic, vibrant, evolving beast. But we can anticipate common hiccups and identify work-arounds before we need them.

Well it’s never boring, at least!

About John P Egan

Learning technology professional.
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