A Quick Overview
      My educational philosophy for the website is summarized in the homepage and its links, especially A Quick Education and Understanding & Attitude.  The STRUCTURE, with the basic content and scope of each area, is outlined in An Introduction to the Areas.  And there is a page about The Process of Developing and Improving the Website.   This page was motivated by constructive suggestions from Sandra Holmes. 

      constructing a mini-website for a particular audience:
      A practical approach to constructing a website with useful content-and-structure is to imagine ourselves as a particular person (in one segment of our potential audience) and ask "what am I looking for" and then make it easy to recognize that this is available and findable.
      For example, what might a teacher be looking for?  One answer came Monday morning at ASA, when you described what teachers typically look for in NSTA talks:  they want practical ideas that will (in a reasonable amount of preparation time) help them become better teachers.  What you said made me think about the website-area of Thinking Skills, for example, and how it should be supplemented with specific ACTIVITIES a teacher can use (quickly and without much extra effort) in the classroom;  and what you said reminded me of a paper I wrote in 1992 — it's my favorite of all the term papers I wrote while at UW — about making it easier for teachers to become better teachers.
      In the area of Thinking Skills, I think the homepages — about Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, and Productive Thinking (that combines being creative and critical) — are fairly good for what they are, but they would be more useful if the PRINCIPLES (which are the main focus now) were more supplemented by ACTIVITIES that teachers can use in the classroom, and if the area-structure made it obvious that both of these (principles plus activities) were available.   { There is more about these pages, and search engine rankings, in the Appendix. }



      The main strategy for website development is finding good educational resources;
      wise decisions about content are the main way to produce a website that is effective (that is useful and will be used),
      but selectivity takes time, and — for practical reasons — this requires finding experts (or enthusiasts who are willing to search and learn) for each area and sub-area;  this requirement was the motivation for my "plea for help" in a Newsletter of the ASA Science Education Commission that was mailed October 2004, but so far I haven't been very successful in recruiting helpers.
      note: In most of the website (but to varying extents) it will be a zero-sum situation where including new pages may require "bumping" other pages, to limit the size and thus avoid overwhelming users with too many choices in a "dumptruck" approach.  But some growth will be good, especially in the near future, because currently much of the website is underdeveloped.  And with a good navigation structure, in some areas we can provide lots of content and choices, yet still avoid most of the "overwhelming" feeling.

      A website is different than a book;  due to the structure of an internet WEB — with links that make a variety of "structural appearances" possible, depending on the varying choices of different users — we don't have to choose a narrow "audience" in the same way that conventional printed material is forced to make this choice,
      but we must make the options clear to a visitor, so they can quickly-and-easily recognize that useful, good quality content is available and findable, that:  • there is something for ME, and   • I'll be able to find it

      A combination of selectivity (for content) + navigation (for structure) should lead to a quick recognition of these two things, so visitors can see that interesting/useful information is AVAILABLE & FINDABLE.   { A website also needs appeal — verbal, visual, meeting felt needs,... — so visitors will want to use it. }
      Both are necessary to avoid overwhelming a visitor — as in the "dumptruck" feeling of some websites where a visitor sees pages filled with links — where too many links (and not enough selectivity and guidance) cause a user to feel overwhelmed by "too much".

      Sandy, I think you are pointing out (and I appreciate your help) that this "clear and easy/obvious" navigation structure does not yet exist in some parts of the current website.  And we in ASA (including me and others who want to help) should do something to change this, to improve the quantity and quality of what's available, and make it more easily findable.


     The ideas in your website-map highlight the many "dimensions" that are possible:  types of school (public, charter, private, home) and age levels (preschool, elementary, middle/junior, high school, undergraduate, graduate);  types of activities, including ACTIVE RECEPTION LEARNING (from a book, journal, lecture, website,...) of scientific concepts or stories of science (from history or current events), or DISCUSSIONS (about reception learning or activities) and STUDENT ACTIONS (discussions, case studies, debates, labs, field trips, inquiry, experiments, projects,...) as individual students and/or in groups.  Another dimension is subject area, including the main ones for high school (biology, chemistry, physics) when (after the earlier part of K-12, through junior high, when "general science" is what teachers do) there is more specialization (in high school), plus studies of the earth, space, and weather, and "everyday science" and technologies, science policies,...;  thinking skills can be "worked into" these areas and actions, and can also be treated as an area worthy of study on its own, with design method and scientific method viewed as useful ways to combine creative and critical thinking skills (for the generation and evaluation of ideas) that facilitate effective exploration, problem solving, and decision making.  Another dimension of "whole-person education" is character education, along with worldview education that is related to (but is not identical with) religious perspectives.
     Wow.  There are many dimensions to consider, and the trick is to combine these in a coherent way — as described above in "content and structure" — that makes sense to visitors, that informs them (about what is available and findable) without overwhelming them.

     And yet another dimension in your map is student-teacher (learning-teaching) symbolized by your regions for K-12 Teachers (plus Curriculum Resources) and also K-12 Students.  This has been a question for me since the beginning, how much to target students directly or (through teachers) indirectly.  In addition to K-12, much of the website will be useful for informal lifelong self-education by adult "students" who want to learn.  I'm still thinking about this , and probably it will depend to some extent on the area of the website.

     As an example of the current website structure, let's consider just two possible goals of a visitor — to CHOOSE a school, or TEACH in a school.
     When it's developed, the area of School Options will be oriented toward PARENTS who are deciding, for example, WHETHER to enroll their students in a private Christian school.
     The area of Effective Teaching will be oriented toward TEACHERS who are deciding, for example, HOW to teach effectively in a private Christian school;  it will have two main areas, for PRINCIPLES of teaching (the homepage is ../teach/methods.htm) and ACTIVITIES for teaching (in ../teach/lessons.htm).  Of course, many principles and activities (but not all) will be similar for teachers in different types of schools — public, charter, private, and home — that are the focus of WHETHER-questions.  { There will also be similarities and differences, re: different age levels and subject areas. }
     Are the current website-structures useful for helping users explore their questions about WHETHER and HOW ?
     WHETHER:  I think the current structure of School Options will be useful during its further development.  { So far, the sub-area for Public Schools is the only page that's been significantly developed;  and your suggestion about supplementary schooling, as in "summer enrichment programs," will be a useful addition to this area, and also to the HOW-areas.  In fact, Esther Wong (from the Chicago suburbs south of Wheaton) is developing an enrichment program — for summers and also during the school year — that looks interesting;  she is trying to organize for a high-quality program, and seems to have the abilities, energy, and contacts required to make it work. }  Since parents are teachers in a home school, questions about "whether" and "how" blend, and the sub-area for Home Schools will contain lots of ideas for content, activities,..., including links to the HOW-areas described below.  Maybe the special "Christian" aspect of Christian schools will also be addressed in this area;  it will be here and also in Worldview Education and Christians in Science & Education.
     HOW:  And I think the basic structure of Effective Teaching — with a splitting into principles & activities — might be useful during further development, but the two homepages for these (methods.htm for principles, and activities.htm for activities) are NOT a good indication of what they will be later, since there isn't much "structure" now, there is just a listing of miscellaneous resources.  (By contrast, I think the "Public Schools" page will continue to be useful for exploring whether-questions, although it should be supplemented by pages about the QUALITY of public education.)  Since many of your suggestions are about "effective teaching" and I know its content needs more development and it also needs changes in structure (to make the content more easily recognizable and findable) I'm looking forward to developing and improving this part of the website.
     In addition, other areas (for worldviews, origins questions, thinking skills, learning skills, stories of science) will be interesting for some visitors.

     Other aspects of the website are just beginning to be developed.  In your sitemap, under Higher Education you have branches leading to Graduate Students & Research, Higher Education Tenure & Promotion, Faith in the Workplace & The Professional Discipline, Publishing..., and more.  For years I've had a "Christians in Science and Education" area planned, and in July I began with some first steps toward actually doing it (but without any further development since then), beginning with the "early career scientists" papers published in PSCF that are in the careers page.  In addition, we could look for useful resources (about "the life of a teacher") from CCCU, CHE,... and organizations for Christian K-12 teachers, plus NSTA, NABT,...  Recently, in the last 18 months, InterVarsity has begun an Emerging Scholars Network with this focus, and we can cooperate with them in this area.
     Inspired by the theme of the past two years of meetings, I've talked with some local people — Peter Bakken (formerly in a key position with Au Sable, currently working with a church network in Wisconsin) and Peter Bosscher (a plenary speaker at the ASA meeting, and very active in Engineers without Borders at UW) and Cal DeWitt (famous prof of ecology-etc at UW) about developing the "environmental" part of an area about Christian Stewardship. which currently is mainly a page-with-IOUs.  They're all in Madison, which should make it easier to work together with them and with Bosscher's students, if he is interested in doing something with this.

     Your sitemap has "Ask a Christian Scientist" plus "Scientists willing to be Guest Presenters" and this has been an interest in ASA, including the Affiliation of Christian Geologists who have offered an "asking" service, and the ASA-Templeton Lectures (which is not what you probably were thinking about for "presenters" since it was very centralized with decisions made by ASA) that recently ended.  I don't know how the "asking service" has been for the geologists, but Ken Van Dellen would know more about this, and I'll ask him about it.
     I think Randy Isaac might be interested in this, although doing it well depends on "time decisions" by volunteers, and if this type of service gets popular it produces a time-demand on volunteers, who might then decide to stop volunteering.  Or maybe not.  It will be worth investigating, but I'm probably not the person to set it up and follow through, although making it available through the ASA Science Ed website (and the ASA HomePage and Jack's pages) would be one way to let people know it's available.

     Most of what's in your concept map is either in the website already (but it should be "more obviously available" and "more easily findable"), or it's been planned for the website (but hasn't yet been developed), or is a new idea that's a good idea and should be done.
     But doing all of this takes effort (I'm willing and eager) which requires time (and this is an important limitation).  I think all parts of the website have potential to be valuable, but I can't do everything at once.  As I've said before (like in the newsletter a year ago), of all the areas "the 'multiple positions' approach in Origins Questions is most likely to be noticed, and to make a positive impact in the educational community."  Because of this, and because it's an area of major interest (and concern within ASA, re: responsibility and accountability for whatever has the name of "ASA" on it) the area of Origins Questions is where I plan to invest a significant amount of time and effort in the near future, although I also want to continue work in other areas.

     This is an area of mutual enthusiasm.
     Monday morning at ASA, when you were getting ideas you also began writing-and-drawing, and you've continued "visual thinking" with your concept map.  I'm also an enthusiastic user of "visual organization" as you can see in these examples:
     The first half of my PhD dissertation included a diagram showing the relational complexity of Integrated Scientific Method.  There are also simpler diagrams such as those for Integrated Design Method or an introduction to scientific method.  And I wrote a page about Visual Thinking, although the information (from more than a decade ago) is dated.

     In dealing with the possibilities and challenges of coping with multiple "dimensions", I tend to favor TABLES over MAPS — and you can see examples in An Introduction to the Areas & Science and Design in Education & the links-pages and sitemap for Origins Questions — are but one advantage of the web is that duplicate navigation structures are possible, so we could have one type (table based) for visitors who prefer this organization, and another (map based) for visitors who prefer this.  { Later, I'll develop a protoype using some of the ideas you've suggested, as described below. }
     A couple of times I've tried using "image maps" for navigation, and currently a few (especially the ones in Integrated Scientific Method, in the intro-page above and a details-page) are still being used, so you can click on various parts of it and get sent to the corresponding part of the text-description inside the page.  Two others — an outdated map for my education-pages and an outdated (but less so) map for Origins Evidence — have been phased out, and both have been replaced by another "visual organizing" method, using an HTML-table that's very compact and still shows a visual organization of relationships, for my pages about Origins Questions (table is at top of page) and Thinking Skills in Education.

     We're both enthusiastic about "visual representations" and creative brainstorming, and this is one reason that working together in the same room — where we could draw and see,... – would be useful, but (until maybe April in Anaheim) we'll have to work with electronic communication: emails, files, and telephone.

Well, that's enough for now.  Please let me know what you think.



      RANKINGS BY SEARCH ENGINES (some comments)
      Some pages in the area of "thinking skills" are highly ranked in search engines.  For example, in a search for [creative thinking education] it's #1 in Google and MSN, #2 in Yahoo;  and [critical thinking education] has been varying between 5 & 11 in Google but is slightly lower in the others, and has been rising [now, in July 2006, it's #1];  without "education" in a search — as in [critical thinking] — they're ranked lower, but when a search includes "in" [critical thinking in education] they're higher, #3 and #2 in Google and Yahoo.
      These pages are also visited relatively frequently, compared with other pages in the ASA website, although the "absolute use" isn't yet very high, only about 1000 per month.  Compared with other ASA pages, in July 2005 they were #2, 3, and 8, much higher than in early-2005 or 2004, even though there are no links to them from the main ASA website, and I haven't yet sought links from any external websites, and haven't "advertised" them in any way among teachers.
      Many other pages also rank high in other searches.  {more about this later}
      I'm not sure, but I think most of the high ranking is due to the many links coming in to "www.asa3.org" (ASA has prestige among peers) and because search engines seem to appreciate ASA;  the structure of "internal linkings" I've built into the ASA Science Ed website also helps;  and page titles (plus heading-paragraphs) with keywords;  and now that some pages are highly ranked, other websites are finding them and beginning to link more to them, so it's a "pleasant cycle" after pages begin showing up high in searches by Google and other search engines.  Sometime in the near future, contacting websites to "get links" will be productive, but so far I haven't done any of this.
      Currently, very few visitors go from "www.asa3.org" to the ASA Science Ed website, because links from the ASA-homepage (to ASA Science Ed) are either non-existent or are not very visible, and they are rarely found and rarely used by visitors.

      POSSIBLE TABLES (tentative prototypes) for CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
      I'll do this later.  Basically, the short-term goal is to explore possibilities for showing "dimensions" to users (unfortunately, a 2-dimensional table is a limitation in web-pages, and more generally humans are limited to seeing in 3 dimensions) and trying to clarify the AVAILABILITY & FINDABILITY for users.  Tables are 2-D, but there are ways to add one or more dimensions, and perhaps databases will provide ways to make a "sortable" structure.  I think the problem of "coping with too many dimensions" will be a difficult challenge mainly for the sub-area of "STUDENT ACTIVITIES for teachers to use" (or for students to use directly?) but it will also be relevant in other areas and in other ways.