🔍Overview

We want you to have a chance to improve what you have worked on in the past, whether that’s something you worked on last week or last semester. Our goal for you is to expand your online presence and increase the quality of that presence. Whatever the current age and state of your website, this week is dedicated to making that website better.

In the video, honorary TA Franklin Delano Roosevelt (32nd President of the United States) struggles through low volume and a few awkward pauses to explain Module 3 to you.

One of the things that FDR mentions is the standards of excellence that are included in each module, starting with Module 3. These are standards we would like you to work toward because they are the standards by which we’ll evaluate your work in that module in mid- and end-of-semester feedback. In most cases, the standards will relate specifically to the missions you complete during that module; however, this week’s standards are more about general principles of website design. In other words, we hope that you will keep them in mind throughout the semester!

Quick Reminders:

  • You can find the standards of excellence for each module in the appropriate Missions tab – make sure you get in the habit of checking them for each Mission.
  • You may choose to take care of your Tech Check during this module. You need to complete your Tech Check before the end of Module 10.You may choose to take care of your Tech Check during this module. You need to complete your Tech Check before the end of Module 10.
Activities in this module are due by June 5th (at or before 11:59pm Eastern Time). We encourage you to begin early in the week – it is not possible to complete the entire module at the last minute.

💎Shinies

Why develop a homepage?

Your homepage is the first page that visitors see when arriving to your site. It provides a first impression and shows readers what is available on your site. [Read more about it here]

Why is there an alternative Mission?

We realize that some of the Missions in this course may not apply to everyone. If you have already created a website that you would like to use to complete the Capstone Course (as opposed to making a separate capstone website), creating a home page would be a redundant Mission. Instead, we are providing you with an alternative Mission that focuses on improving your existing website. For you, this module will be time to figure out how to incorporate your Capstone Portfolio into an existing website.

Why are we doing Gravatar again?

We know you have already set up your Gravatar account with your MSU email address and picture. At this point we would like you to ensure that it has the URL to the website you’re currently working on so that your classmates and instructors can easily get to your portfolio.

What are some good examples?

If you’re looking for inspiration for this Mission, check out the links below. Each of these links represents an example of this Mission from a previous semester that was done well and that you should feel free to emulate. However, that doesn’t mean that these examples are perfect, so please don’t copy them.

Please also keep in mind that we tweak our Mission requirements from semester to semester. These portfolios, while exemplary, might not reflect our current requirements or emphasize the same things that we focus on this semester. When in doubt, check the Mission descriptions or ask us!

What resources can help me build a good looking site and/or homepage?

Here are a few resources that can provide some useful advice as you move forward with your portfolio:

  • This website lists a few mistakes to avoid when designing your portfolio.
  • Similarly, this page has suggestions for keeping your design clean and simple.
  • Lastly, this page provides some overall advice for website design.
  • This video in the Web Design for Professional Portfolios series will give you some overall advice on how to design the layout of your homepage (and other pages!).

Reminder: Should I turn in partial work or wait until I am done?

In this class, it is better to get something for an mission posted on time (like a draft of a resumé) and to improve upon it as we go than to wait for everything to be perfect. There will be time to revise and improve later. [Read more about it here]

🔗Mission 1A

warning
This Mission does not apply to everyone—Read the following carefully to determine if you should do Mission 1A (this Mission) or Mission 1B.
  • If (a) you have not created a website before or are still in the early parts of learning this skill OR (b) you know you will create a separate website for the capstone portfolio, this Mission is for you.
  • If you are experienced at website design and creation AND you have an existing website you will add to for the Capstone Course, this Mission is NOT for you, STOP! Move on and do Mission 1B instead.
  • If you’re not sure if you will use an existing website, or create a new website, read this and decide before going forward.
picture of binoculars

Overview—Your homepage

As you do this Mission, keep in mind that by the end of the module you should be ready to show your housemates a well-completed home page and to discuss the reasoning informing the decisions you made. We do expect that you will make changes throughout the semester: This may not (and probably should not) be exactly what you end up with by the end of the semester. Complete this Mission by completing each of the following concrete steps:

Consider your audience

While your intended audience for your portfolio might change over the course of the semester, we think it is very important to start by taking a few minutes to consider what purpose you would like your portfolio to serve and what that means about who will be looking at it. Will it be primarily for other teachers? For parents, students, or your principal? Will it be something you continue to develop for an eventual job search? Considering your audience will help you better design your portfolio to effectively communicate whatever message you are hoping to send.

Collect feedback from your housemates

  • Collect feedback from your housemates—Look at the feedback your housemates provided in response to your Piazza post last week. Consider what advice they gave you that can best help you improve upon your work.
  • Use ideas from previous students—You might want to look at examples from previous semesters or the portfolios from last semester you viewed in Module 1.

Implement your own design aesthetic to expand and improve your homepage

Once you have taken these ideas, work on improving your homepage. Try things to get the overall look that fits you.

As you design your page, please use the following standards of excellence to guide your work. These represent the particular criteria that your instructors will be looking for and giving feedback on in this Mission. These standards form the basis of our full grading rubric, on which we base our end of the semester assessment of portfolios.

  • Readability: Is the text on your website consistent and easy to read?
  • Color and Contrast: Does your choice of colors make the website easy to read?
  • Navigation: Are your links logical, consistent, and effective?
  • Multimedia: Do you appropriately integrate the images, sound, and video you use with the rest of your website?
  • Attribution: Do you provide correct attribution for the images, videos, and other resources you use?

Common issues

  • The titles of drop-down menus are often also links and should lead somewhere, not just to a blank page!
  • Make sure that you’ve carefully considered the privacy implications of including pictures of your children or students.
  • Linking back to the original source is necessary but not sufficient for a proper attribution.

Be ready to explain what you did and your reasoning for it

In Mission 3 we will ask you to explain your work and reasoning. Be ready to explain what you did, why you did it, and what advice you would like from your housemates.

🔗Mission 1B

warning
This Mission does not apply to everyone—Read the following carefully to determine if you should do Mission 1B (this Mission) or Mission 1A.
  • If you are experienced at website design and creation and you have an existing website you will add to for the Capstone Course, this is the Mission for you.
  • If you have not created a website before or are still in the early parts of learning this skill, STOP and do Mission 1A instead.
  • If you know you will create a separate website for the capstone portfolio, STOP and do Mission 1A instead.
  • If you’re not sure if you will use an existing website or create a new website, read this and decide before going forward.
picture of binoculars

Overview—Ready your pre-existing website

As you do this Mission, keep in mind that we want you to have a personalized portfolio, but we will be asking for specific pages (resumé, annotated transcript, showcase, essays) for this course. Consider how you will best work those into, organize them with, and categorize them in your existing website. You should have a well-organized website at the end of this module to share with others and should be ready to talk about the decisions you made.

Complete this module by completing each of the following concrete steps:

Determine how you will incorporate your Capstone pages into the current website

If you are planning on using a pre-existing website, figure out which website you will use (if you have several to choose from).

Then, take some time to try a few different arrangements out. For example, you may want a separate section of your website devoted to the Capstone Course requirements. Maybe the capstone pages get their own menu. Maybe some pages fit nicely with some existing work while others need to find a new place in your website. We want you to take the time to think through some different possibilities.

As you design your page, please use the following standards of excellence to guide your work. These represent the particular criteria that your instructors will be looking for and giving feedback on in this Mission. These standards form the basis of our full grading rubric, on which we base our end of the semester assessment of portfolios.

  • Readability: Is the text on your website consistent and easy to read?
  • Color and Contrast: Does your choice of colors make the website easy to read?
  • Navigation: Are your links logical, consistent, and effective?
  • Multimedia: Do you appropriately integrate the images, sound, and video you use with the rest of your website?
  • Attribution: Do you provide correct attribution for the images, videos, and other resources you use?

Common issues

  • The titles of drop-down menus are often also links and should lead somewhere, not just to a blank page!
  • Make sure that you’ve carefully considered the privacy implications of including pictures of your children or students.
  • Linking back to the original source is necessary but not sufficient for a proper attribution.

Create blank pages (placeholders) in your website

You will have a chance to fill these in later, and this should allow you to see how things will fit together. Remember, even though your portfolio is for your use, your peers and instructors will need to be able to find your capstone Mission easily. You are welcome to change your organization after the course is over. Set up navigation to the pages you create, so that they are accessible through sidebars, dropdown menus, or other navigation features on your website.

Be ready to explain what you did and your reasoning for it

In Mission 3 we will ask you to explain your work and reasoning. Be ready to explain what you did, why you did it, and what advice you would like from your housemates.

🔗Mission 2

Update your Gravatar

We know you have already set up your Gravatar account, but we want to make sure that it also has the URL to the website you’ve decided to use for your capstone portfolio. This will make it easier for your classmates and instructors to visit your website. Complete the following sequence of steps:

Update your information at gravatar.com

  • Direct your browser to gravatar.com
  • Click “SIGN IN”
  • Sign into Gravatar using your MSU email address or the username you created.
  • Go to “My profile” and select the “Websites” option in the right sidebar. For the homepage you created, enter the name of your portfolio (this may be your name, or it may be your name and additional information, like “Rebecca’s Portfolio” or “Rebecca’s Master of Arts in Education Portfolio”) and its URL, then click “Add.”
  • IMPORTANT: If you have multiple websites associated with your Gravatar, only the first one will show up as the Gravatar website link. For at least the duration of this class, we need the first one to be your capstone portfolio. If something else is already taking up the first spot, you will need to delete it and then enter it afterward so that it is listed as secondary to your capstone portfolio URL.

Check your Gravatar

Don’t forget to check your Gravatar when you’re done! Head over to the Roster page and make sure that your Gravatar looks like this:

gravatar_instructions

Note that you should check for four things: 1) Your name as you wish to be called in the course (including your last name) 2) your picture, 3) your MSU email, and 4) a link to your capstone portfolio.

It sometimes takes a while for Gravatar to update, so don’t panic if your changes don’t show up right away. However, if it’s been an hour or two and nothing’s changed, you’ll want to go back to gravatar.com and do some more fiddling around.

This Mission is important enough that we make an exception to our typical late policy. Even if you don’t complete this Gravatar update on time, you can get half credit for carrying it out any time before the end of Module 9.

Important note: you MUST use your msu.edu email for the purposes of this course. We understand for some of you, this will be a temporary change, and that is fine. However, if you are having any difficulty, please first verify that you have set things up in Gravatar with your msu.edu email address.

🔗Mission 3

Post in Piazza

For this module, please post the following to Piazza:

  • A sentence describing which version of Mission 1 you completed (1A, create a homepage or 1B, improve an existing site).
  • If you completed Mission 1A, you should provide the name of the technology you decided to use, the address of your homepage and a paragraph on how you reached this conclusion and what design decisions you made, as well as your reasons for making those decisions. A second paragraph should be dedicated to (a) what you like about your design and (b) what you would like some feedback on.
  • If you completed Mission 1B, you should provide the address of your homepage as well as a paragraph outlining the changes you have made to your portfolio to prepare it to include the capstone Missions. A second paragraph should be dedicated to (a) what you like about your design and (b) what you would like some feedback on.

Posting your Powerups in Piazza

If you have completed a new Powerup then post about it in Piazza by doing the following:

  • Go to your house in Piazza
  • If this is your first Powerup, find the post called “Powerup #1!”, if this is your second Powerup find “Powerup #2!”, and if this is your third (or fourth, or fifth…) find “Powerup #3!”.
  • Post a reply to the post with the following
    • The Web address of your Powerup.
    • A paragraph explaining why you chose to complete this particular Powerup.
    • If this is your second or third Powerup, please include how you see it relating to previous Powerups and the overall shape and development of your portfolio.
    • Anything you’d like your housemates to pay particular attention to.

Just as for our regular weekly postings, give feedback to two others. Give preference to those who have little or no feedback yet (of course, this is all subject to the Bonuses and Bummers Policy).

How to Post in Piazza

If you need a hand posting to Piazza, here is a walkthrough of the process:

piazza_screen_1

Step 1 – Know which house you are in. To get started, you have to be able to head to the correct place. Each group, or house, has their own space in Piazza. You can double check which house you are in by going to the “Roster & Houses” page at the top of this website.

Step 2 – Visit Piazza. Once you know which house you are in, use the “Class Discussion” links on the right hand side of the page to go directly to your house’s discussion space on Piazza. In order for this to work, you must have previously accepted the Piazza invitation sent to your MSU email account and completed all the Piazza steps.

Step 3 – Find the correct discussion. The screenshot on the right is similar to what you should see when you visit Piazza. We have already set up the post for each module that will be using Piazza (see the list in the screenshot). Find the appropriate module for the week and click on it!

Step 4 – Read the directions carefully. At the top of each post there are directions on how to complete the module post for full credit: Please read them! Each module has different directions, so make sure you read the directions for the correct module!

Step 5 – Reply to the post by clicking on “Start a new followup discussion.” This is found at the very bottom of the discussion, so if a number of people have already replied, you may have to scroll down to find it. Once you click “Start a new followup discussion,” type your post and hit “Submit”.

Step 6 – Provide feedback to two housemates. The goal is to provide feedback to two people. Your priority should be to provide feedback to someone who hasn’t yet received any feedback. If everyone has some feedback, give feedback to the housemate you think needs your input the most. When constructing your feedback, please consider the kind of feedback you would like to get in return. Click the “Write a Reply” button beneath their post and submit your feedback to that person. Remember, you must provide feedback to two people (some exceptions are listed below in Bonuses and Bummers Policy).

You can find some more advice for giving effective feedback in the Piazza posts for each module. Providing feedback comprises your Feedback Grade for the week. We look for elaboration beyond “good job!” and ask that you engage with your housemates’ work and provide your insight as to the specific things you appreciate and think could be improved upon.

How will you know when someone has posted to your house? There is a “More” button at the bottom of each post in Piazza. Click that pull-down menu and either select “Follow” or “Stop following” depending upon whether or not you want to receive notices about that discussion. We recommend that you follow discussions for your house (but that’s up to you).

Stuck? Want help with the technical parts? If you’re getting stuck using your web-authoring platform, follow the Tech Support link. It’s on the right hand side of the capstone website, below the houses under “Course Discussions.” Please note that there is no actual “tech support” page. Instead, this links to a note we created on Piazza that has instructions for posting a tech support question where your instructors and classmates can give you some advice.

Of course, this system only works if you help answer questions too, so don’t forget to keep an eye out for your classmates’ questions!

📊Grades

Grading rubric for this module

Each Mission in this course is important for developing your abilities to design and implement your portfolio. Recall that there are 100 total points assigned in this course; the specific Mission(s) in this module will count towards your grade as follows:

  • (1 point) – Gravatar – Updating your Gravatar with your name, an image, and the link to your homepage.
  • (1 point) – Initial Post – Posting about your Mission as described in Piazza. Up to one point will be awarded based upon the completeness of your initial Piazza post.
  • (1 point) – Providing Feedback – Up to one point will be awarded based upon the quality and completeness of your feedback to two of your peers. [Keep in mind our “Bonuses and Bummers” policy.]
  • (2 points) – Tech Check – Carry out your Tech Check before the end of Module 10. To learn more, see our Tech Check information.

Advice and help about course grades

  • Learn how to check grades in the course by reading this helpful guide.
  • Check grades early and often! This will help you understand your progress in the course and will help us correct any errors as soon as possible.
  • Pay attention to how each module is graded. We provide details about the grading rubric for each module.
  • Understand the late work policy. If you know you’re going to be late, contact us ahead of time and ask for a (reasonable) extension. Otherwise, work is accepted up to 48 hours late with 1/2 credit. The full policy is detailed in the syllabus.
  • The full grading policy is detailed in the syllabus.

🌟Powerups

Powerups information

In addition to the weekly modules and components that we walk you through, each portfolio is required to have a number of Powerups. These Powerups are features, technologies, or pages that you add to your portfolio based upon what best suits you and your audience.

Keep in mind that you will have to add three Powerups to your portfolio before the course is over. We recommend the following timing to stay on track with Powerups. While there are no points or late penalty associated with this timing, it is in your best interest to try to stick to it in order to stay on pace to successfully complete the course.

  • First Powerup – Complete by the end of Module 5
  • Second Powerup – Complete by the end of Module 8
  • Third Powerup – Complete by the end of Module 11

More details about Powerups, including a list of all possible Powerups and full details on the timing of Powerups, is available here.

Recommended Powerups

If you’ve completed this Mission early or if the theme of this module is particularly important for your portfolio, we encourage you to start thinking about Powerups that are related to this module’s work. We think the following ones fit particularly well with what you’re currently working on:

  • About Me page Make a page on your website that’s all about you. Help visitors to learn more about the person behind the website.