Presentation on theme: "ASSESSMENT OF ACADEMIC WEBSITES Asad Khailany, Eastern Michigan U Michael Sheppard Eastern Michigan U Abhijit Modak, Eastern Michigan U Wafa Khorsheed,"— Presentation transcript:
ASSESSMENT OF ACADEMIC WEBSITES Asad Khailany, Eastern Michigan U Michael Sheppard Eastern Michigan U Abhijit Modak, Eastern Michigan U Wafa Khorsheed, Eastern Michigan U
Currently there are no standard metrics to measure the effectiveness of academic web sites. In this paper we are recommending 25 metrics divided into 5 different categories to measure and make academic web sites more effective and productive to professors, to students, and to public. We have used the proposed metrics to evaluate the websites of 40 professors to provide
Most of faculty members and students heavily utilize the Internet for research, news, communication and entertainment. Internet provides many opportunities for professors to reach out and engage students in an interactive and non- threatening medium of communication. Variety of web design tools such as WYSWIG (What You See What You Get) HTML editors, Flash, Dream Weaver, XML, Perl, Microsoft Word and many others are available to design dynamic web pages. There no many guidelines to design web effective academic websites. Currently there are no standard metrics for the measurement of the quality of the academic web sites.
Chickering and Gamson proposed the following 7 principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education: 1. Good practice encourages contact between students and faculty. 2. Good practice develops reciprocity and cooperation among students. 3. Good practice encourages active learning. 4. Good practice gives prompt feedback. 5. Good practice emphasizes time on task. 6.Good practice communicates high expectations. 7. Good practice respects diverse talents and ways of learning.
Chickering and Gamson did not proposed any technique or method to achieve their seven principles. We believe today’s technology provide good opportunities for achieving the above principles via good quality effective academic websites. For that we have taken these principles in consideration, combined them with good web design practices, and incorporated them into a group of metrics that can be applied to measure the effectiveness of academic web sites.
We are proposing 25 metrics, grouped into following 5 categories : 1. First Impressions pertain to site features and observations that a visitor would note within the first few moments they have loaded the site. Such metrics pertain to whether there is readily available contact information, a consistent design throughout, download time, aesthetics or “look and feel” and whether the purpose of the site is clear. When a visitor has passed a judgment on these metrics, they will have formed a definite opinion of the site before even viewing the sites contents. While the opinion may be a strong positive or negative one, it is not irreversible. So no extra weighting is given to this category that would make it count more than the others. The next proposed category is
Following are the proposed metrics for FIRST IMPRESSION category: 1. The portal quality of the web site is good. 2. The site has essential contact information like email, phone/fax numbers. 3. The design is consistent (headers, footers, navigation bar, etc.) 4. Download time is short 5. It has a good look and feel – Readability, Attractiveness 6. The purpose of the site is clear? Is it obvious who owns this site?
2. Navigation: The three metrics proposed for this category have fairly obvious intents. They are centered on two areas of concern that are universal to all websites, not just academic ones: Do the internal and external links work? Is there a map that can sufficiently direct a visitor to the content they are looking for? The proposed metrics for this category are:1.The links all work 2. There are links to the home page on every page 3. There is a comprehensive site map
3. Content: The metrics of this catagory have the closest correlation with Chickering and Gamson’s Seven Principles. They cover a wide range of topics and attempt to capture not only individual features of the site but also create a sense of the total dynamic experience for a visitor. After evaluating the site based on the metrics in category Content, the evaluator should have a sense of its relevancy to a student’s course work, how engaging the site is, the level of interactivity it promotes, and how up-to-date is the content that is provided.
Following are the proposed metrics for CONTENT category: 1. It has bulletins & announcements 2. There is class meeting information: date, time, location, agenda 3. Home works and assignments are posted 4. The site contains tutorials for related materials to your course 5.The site contains the solutions for past exams 6. The site has a syllabus. The syllabus contains the hot links 7. There are handouts posted on the web site. The handouts make sense within the context of the course. 8. There is personal information about the author of the site 9. The page is dated and current 10. The site uses valuable graphics, animation or sound 11. Level of interaction is high (i.e. exercises, bulletin board feature, etc.) 12. There are synchronous collaborative communications tools for real-time interaction(ie. chat functionality) 13. There are asynchronous collaborative communications tools (i.e threaded discussion feature)
4. Findability: The fourth proposed category measures how easily a viewer can locate the web site from a search engine. The metrics in Findability ask the evaluator to check for relevant keywords in the header of the HTML code. It also asks the evaluator to assess whether they feel the URL path is simple and easy to remember. Not only is Findability concerned with whether a visitor can easily find a professors homepage but whether they can find their way to specific content within the site from outside the site. This is the intent in the metric “It does NOT use frames”. Though frames can be a convenient way for the developer to create a clean uniform site, they also can present the would-be visitor some daunting challenges as they try to locate and bookmark a specific page on the professor’s site.
Following are the proposed metrics for Findability category: 1.It uses intuitive keywords. 2.It does not use frames. 3. The URL is intuitive.
5. Compatibility: This category is the most self-evident of the five metric categories. The effort behind this category is aimed at establishing whether the site provides enough backward compatibility with older browsers. Following are the proposed metrics for this category: 1. Internet Explorer 4.0 and up2. Netscape 5.0 and up The proposed metrics attempt channel those seven principles specifically to the online presence professors have built to support their classroom teaching. Some of the metrics in our evaluation are articulated to directly support one or more of the seven principles.
We used the proposed metrics to evaluate the quality of the websites of 40 professors from different colleges and universities. The web sites studied achieved an average rating of 2.59 out of 4.00 or 64.70% effective. The median score was 2.65 out of 4.00 or 66.20%. Based on our analysis of individual characteristics of each web site, we concluded that a web site might be considered successful by achieving an average score of 3.00 out of 4.00 in each of the main categories.
The web sites generally scored highly on the following metrics The site has essential contact information like email, phone/fax numbers. Download time is short The purpose of the site is clear. Is it obvious who owns the site? The web sites scored weak on the following metrics: The portal quality of the web site is good. There is a comprehensive site map. There are asynchronous collaborative communications tools (i.e. threaded discussion feature) There are synchronous collaborative communications tools for real- time interaction (i.e. chat functionality) Level of interaction is high (i.e. exercises, bulletin board feature, etc.)
By improving their web sites around these issues, professors can better engage and maintain the student’s attention. Unless the portal quality is improved and a comprehensive sitemap is provided, the students may spend too much time trying to find relevant information, which can cause the student to discount the value of the site as a learning tool. The use of synchronous communication tools, such as live chat, and asynchronous collaborative communications tools, such as the threaded discussion feature, are important in order to develop reciprocity and cooperation among students and encourage contact between students and faculty.
The use of synchronous communication tools combined with a high level of interaction through exercises, bulletin boards, etc., would achieve the Chickering and Gamson principles of time on task, active learning, and prompt feedback. The matrix is a flexible tool that allows a professor to use it in a manner that meets their needs. For example, a professor may elect to use it as a personal tool where they can rate the effectiveness of their own site. Others may elect to use it as part of an instructor-lead evaluation, where they ask their students for feedback on their web site It is the goal of every educator to build an effective, and useful website.. With our proposed metrics educators can effectively, analyze, and improve the quality of their web sites. We used these metrics to evaluate the websites of 40 professors. Websites cannot be regarded “one-shot deals” that can be developed and not updated. It must be continuously evaluated and updates. Our metric ease such evaluations and updates. Complete research results provided in the appendix