teachers page 3: building a history web   

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 casahistoria - web site for students of modern history!

  on this page
Browse down the page or just click one of these sections.... 
  other related casahistoria teacher's pages
General web resources for history
Using the internet 
Building a history web
Teaching the new IBO or GCE courses?
Click on your exam to get a pdf copy of the syllabus indicating precisely where casahistoria sites are available for you to use: IBO   AQA  Edexcel  OCR


casahistoria is recommended by many sites including:



1. Using a web page/site of your own                           
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  • You may never have considered a web site of your own. Most schools/colleges should now have space on the school web site for departmental material. As there are many advantages to having a site you should make use of this.
  • If your school/college does not have any place for you, then you should consider making some of your own.
  • Even if  your school/college does have a site, constructing one of your own will probably give you more control: allow you more easily to work on it from home; give you editorial control; allow you to "take it away with you" if you should move on ....
In addition to the obvious uses to pupils and yourself shown in the previous page, Using the internet, a history web of your own can also do the following:
  • Provide an identity to your department or area. This can then become a familiar 'port of call' for your students where you can post up search engines, sites of your choice and other features such as  Department notices, pictures of trips. Before long you have your own little history web ....... as at Whitchurch High School, an IB school in Cardiff, Wales where this history site is part of the whole school site and has a good "family" feel to it!
  • Publish documents to colleagues that contain many links to useful information. It is often more useful to publish as a web page than a document: the included links are then much more accessible eg: a school working group document for departments to access easily. This is on producing a Gifted & Talented Policy
How to build it?
  • the rest of this page gives you hints from my experience at casahistoria ......

casahistoria home                            visit caféhistoria for updates and current topic newsClick me and go to the café!

2. The big questions to answer before you start:

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Where will your site be hosted?
  • If this is a school/college site this means it will be free, but access may only be in school time (This may be restrictive for you to amend the site and for students to access)
Which software to use to build?
  • Your school/college may use a programme that you will need to use if you are hosted there. Otherwise you can go for the professional software like Dreamweaver. This will give the best effect but needs time to master.
  • Microsoft Expressions is not quite so complex as Dreamweaver but allows for expansion as your skills grow. Like Dreamweaver this has easy to use templates to get you started. All of casahistoria has been designed using Microsoft Expressions.
  • Major web hosts offer simple web-based programmes for basic sites. These are straightforward but you will find them limited as your site grows.  
Do you want a special name?
  • like myhistorysite and an easy to remember address eg myhistorysite.com? If so you can register a name for about $15-$20 £9-£15 a year (or less!!) and use it as your web address. This will help give a distinctive air to your site....
  • Make sure your name is easily transferable to another address in case you move your webspace.


  • Companies like 1and1 and Yahoo! can provide all of the above - and software to design the site if you don't have any - for $4 US upwards a month. This is better than using free ISP webspace because if you move ISP you lose that site....
  • Copyright Crash Course To let you know what can be "borrowed" and what cannot...Georgia Harper, General Counsel, University of Texas. This user-friendly, approachable site offers a crash course in copyright law and its implications. The crash course tutorial was designed to help faculty "learn Copyright basics, especially in the distance learning context," and includes a test to assess copyright knowledge. Harper covers fair use and ownership specifics as well as details on creating multimedia, copyright in the digital library, copyright management, licensing resources, and online presentations.

casahistoria home                            visit caféhistoria for updates and current topic newsClick me and go to the café!

3. The little questions:

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Identify the purpose of your web site
  • To provide web resources for your students? 
  • To set tasks to your students (either to use web resources or as 'distanced learning') ? 
  • To post up revision exercises?
  • To display work exemplars?
  • To give your Department an identity?

Create a site identity
  • get an individual name
  • use a common style
  • devise a logo (Microsoft Office clipart is a good place for copyright free images)
  • use the same colour/font theme throughout
Know your clients
  • Many sites are not appropriate. If you include such sites, your students will not want to use your site in the future
Know the key web link sites
  • This will save you valuable search time
Provide a "hook" to  get the site known and used
  • Set specific tasks on your site
  • You can put images from a trip or visit on the pages (but remember to safeguard pupil anonymity)
Update frequently & Include a counter
  • include update information and a counter. This does not need to be public, but you need to see how the site is being used.
Find Time!!
  • not just to design, but also to maintain the site
Remember the key technical points
  • Make your site visually interesting
  • Make navigation easy, and include plenty return links.
  • avoid the temptation to make a page too image rich and busy.
  • Avoid using images that move....
  • Keep it simple. If need be, start a new page if there is a lot of information.


casahistoria home                    visit caféhistoria for updates and current topic newsClick me and go to the café!

4. Technical tips
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Some bits & bobs to add to your web page. All are free....


      Site counters  You need counters to know who is using your site and when.
  • Statcounter provides free analysis of your overall site. This lets you see who is using your site in real time (ie who is using it at the moment and where they came from.)  Mesmerising. For example the counters on casahistoria tell me that Saturday is the least popular day (everyone parties) whilst Sunday night sees heavy use (last minute use for handing in work on Monday). Ideally each page should have the links (called code) to both Statcounter and an individual page counter as explained next.
  • Motigo (previously Nedstat/Webstat) provides free individual page counters and lets you analyse your pages easily. The best free site for large sites but it now sends pop up ads after the first page is accessed) for records of individual pages. Casahistoria no longer uses Motigo for this reason.
  • Clicky! is the counter presently used on casahistoria. Stats are monthly, weekly, daily, real time. Allows to see who is on a site at any given time and where they have come from. Prices are from $9.95 monthly for 10 pages. (there is also a free page service, but has ads).
      Site Index   Always useful - and it makes the site look more professional.
  • Yippy! This is my current favourite. Paste a few lines on each page and have a site search for your site in a tabbed format. this appears first in view. Other tabs allow the user to look at results for the web, wiki, blogs or images related to the search term. Free for education, works well across casahistoria.
  • Atomz The basic version is free for educational use. Relatively easy to set up and place on all your pages. They will send you your results each week so you can see what people are looking for. The ads are discreet.
  • Google Public Service Search will also provide search boxes to paste on your site.
     Being indexed (eg by Google) If you want others to use your site how do they find out about it?
  • Register with Google, Bing/Yahoo/MSN. You can submit your site free of charge to the relevant educational categories of each search company. However inclusion is not guaranteed. It took me 2 years to be listed on the Yahoo educational categories....
  • The reality though is that most visitors come from the search boxes of Google, Bing et al. They now search (spider) the web about once every couple of days (or quicker!). Key phrases on your site are picked up and when they match a searcher's terms in Google, your site is included. Both page counters like Clicky! and Statcounter allow you to see what phrases were entered by the visitor and where you ranked in the results. 98% of casahistoria's visits come this way. In most cases I can see that the relevant casahistoria page was in the first 10 results. Thus your own text on the site is important to trigger the search indexes and to make your site distinctive.
  • Share This More recently I have found that social networking sites are being used to spread news of useful sites. You can add a link to your site that displays a “share me” icon for facebook and many other social networking sites. This allows you site address to be sent easily amongst social networkers….. (if you are really into this, twitter boxes can also be added. I am not….)
      Finding lost (and dead) links
  • The Wayback machine is an amazing site. This has archived the web for over 6 years. If a really valuable link is now dead, type the address into their search box and usually you will have that site back again. Weird - I can see the archived first editions of casahistoria from 1999.....
  • Checking an existing page of links can be laborious. Two add-ons that make this easier are:
    • Link Evaluator This is a Firefox add-on that checks all the links on a page: active ones are highlighted in green, dead ones in red. (The red ones can they be entered in Wayback to get an archived link that still works)
    • SnapShots Until recently you might have noticed that moving your mouse over a casahistoria link provides a thumbnail image of the linked site. This makes it easier for users to see if the link is actually what they want. It also helps you to check that the link is still live. (especially as Link Evaluator will give a green "light" to a site where an error page exists instead - nothing is perfect....) However, I suspect it also slows down loading of the page so I have removed it pro temps from the main pages.
  • Include an email address somewhere so that visitors can contact you. This may be about a dead link. It may be another webmaster telling you their links are changed. It could be  visitor with a general question. I have been getting quite a few requests recently to @casahistoria in response to the emigration pages: "can casahistoria suggest sites to help with the study of emigration from ...." You need a separate mailbox for this - and to look at it on a regular basis!
      Images   Images add colour to your site but remember:
  • Make the images small in size (ideally about 5-10k). Otherwise the page will take ages to load.
  • It is now very easy to find appropriate images: use Google images search
  • Wherever possible name the image source or (often easier) link the image back to its original source. Images usually are copyright.
  • Beware: moving images (usually in gif format) may look clever but the movement will annoy your visitors - as you can see from the image alongside - this is why you should resist having too many animations on your pages! Ideally no more than one should be visible at one time, and then time limit it so that it stops quickly. Otherwise it will distract and annoy visitors. they will not come back. Even professional sites suffer from this. If you do need animations, Microsoft office clipart has plenty but the Animation Factory has some of the better designs (but no longer for free!)
  • Once your site has taken off you can begin to think about ads. Google adsense is the best known. Payment is everytime an ad is clicked (it varies depending on the ad) and the ads are miraculously selected by the software to approximate with the content of your page. You won't get rich off a history site, but once you reach a critical mass, expenses will be covered.
  • Don't get carried away by the 'free' add-ons. Many 'free' tools on the web come loaded with spyware and other nasties. What I recommend on this page should not.
  • In any case, before you start serious web building and link hunting, install a spyware programme as well as your anti-virus and firewall. AdAware is  recommended by many magazine pundits and comes as a free programme.


and after all is done:

casahistoria home                    visit caféhistoria for updates and current topic newsClick me and go to the café!

5. Useful sites for adding links to your web
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  • When looking at sites for your own web, the key sections of other sites are their pages on 'other links'. This is a quick way to see what is available and select what you want.
  • Using a Google search is very laborious and wasteful. The links on the casahistoria Searches page should be a useful resource to you. You can access them by clicking below:
  1. Best places to start finding links     
  2. General 'history' magazine type sites
  3. Special 'history' interest link sites
  4. History websites by and for schools
Exam boards
  • Don't forget your exam board or organisation. They usually provide basic web links which you can use as a starter for your site based on the course you teach.
  • If you teach the International Baccalaureate or any of the post 2008 England & Wales GCE syllabuses you can click on your Board below to get a pdf copy of the syllabus indicating precisely where casahistoria sites are available for you to link to.
And if you are not a History teacher?  A good place to start is with general educational sites like:
  • Association of teachers websites Part of the UK National Grid for Learning. includes Member sites - Useful educational sites for Primary and Secondary teachers, pupils and parents. Organised by subject area.
  • Teaching & Learning on the web This is a store of web sites and resources. Use it to see what is possible, but more importantly its More Links section has a huge number of valuable links
  • However a little time on Google will provide you with some sites that provide general links to your subject eg: Teaching with the Web for Language teaching
  • BBC Schools has a huge educational site aimed at all ages. These will take you to the 11-18 sites. They are of a very high quality. For older users see also BBC Learning
Happy constructing. But remember, once started,
it is like building and painting the Forth Bridge!!
(unfortunately, unlike the bridge today, maintenance is still needed)
and if you want to see how this particular site
looked just after it started in 1999, click here
The site address then was the snappy

casahistoria home                            visit caféhistoria for updates and current topic newsClick me and go to the café!


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