Albuquerque, New Mexico
June 24, 2001
June 24, 2001
June 27, 2001
6.1168.1 - 6.1168.10
WWW Site Design for Internal and External Audiences: The Smart Engineering Project
Steve E. Watkins, Richard H. Hall, Vicki M. Eller, K. Chandrashekhara University of Missouri-Rolla
The Smart Engineering project seeks to develop a model for training engineers with interdisciplinary skills and experiences. It involves an interdisciplinary course and a demonstration highway bridge. An associated WWW site provides course resources including tutorials in topical areas, exercises promoting team interaction, and guidance for collaborative activities and bridge documentation which facilitates industry access to current research and field applications in smart structures. It must accommodate a well-defined internal student audience and a general external industry audience. The site objectives are to effectively inform both audiences and to exploit the capabilities of the WWW. The design philosophy stresses the close interaction of content providers with media programmers and the careful consideration of audience characteristics. It follows comprehensive guidelines for modularity, circularity, and commonality and balances contrasting goals of simplicity and complexity. The former concerns the site hierarchy, usage, and navigation. The latter concerns usability verses interactivity and consistency verses adaptability.
The World Wide Web, or the WWW, provides an exciting alternative to traditional forms of media. Vast amounts of information are readily accessible and may be available in a highly interactive form. An effective WWW site will address the fundamentals of communication in the context of the varied capabilities and characteristics of current WWW technology. WWW educational resources can easily incorporate interactivity and multimedia. Research indicates that learning can be better when the learner is actively engaged, as opposed to passive reading or listening,1 and that student interest and motivation can be increased using dynamic multimedia.2 A clear design philosophy is needed which stresses the close interaction of content providers with media programmers and the careful consideration of the audience characteristics. Content providers and programmers cannot work independently. Otherwise, subtleties and priorities in the content can be missed, and the technology may be poorly applied or inadequately utilized. Audience analysis should guide all design steps since no amount of creativity or capability can substitute for intelligent tailoring of the WWW experience. A systematic and holistic approach will help ensure that all site components contribute to the learning or information goals.
An audience may be classified as either internal or external. An internal audience consists of users within the organization for whom the WWW site is being created. An external audience is interested individuals outside of the organization. The versatility of the WWW is such that all of these audiences, both internal and external, can be effectively addressed with a single site. These users will differ in their WWW experience, preferences, hardware, motivation, and information needs. In particular, experience using WWW resources has been identified as a key factor in
Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2001, American Society for Engineering Education
Watkins, S., & Hall, R., & Chandrashekhara, K., & Eller, V. (2001, June), Www Site Design For Internal And External Audiences: The Smart Engineering Project Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. https://peer.asee.org/10038
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