|This lesson explains how section homepages work, why you need them, and how to build them.|
- Read the material on this page
- Follow the links and read the relevant Help material
- View other section homepages
- Review the sample website
- Take the practice quiz
- Observe the FTF demonstration
- Do the exercises
Read the Quick Guide for an overview of the subject.
Quick Guide for section homepages
Structure of the CATE System
A quick review.
The CATE system includes multiple modules. Each module allows you to build and maintain a specific kind of component, such as a personal homepage, section homepage, Message Board, Chat Room, etc.
Whatever components you choose to use, they must be tied together with a navigational system.
Those components and the nav system comprise your class website, which could be as small as just a section homepage, or as expansive as dozens if not hundreds of pages with various kinds of teaching materials, communication tools, etc.
For further details, please refer to earlier lessons.
Each component in a class website has a specific purpose and includes certain kinds of information.
What goes on your personal homepage?
Academic-related information about you, such as where you went to school, how long you've been at SRJC, what you typically teach, professional organizations to which you belong, etc. If you create and activate section homepages, your personal homepage will automatically contain links to those pages.
What goes on a course homepage?
These are controlled automatically by the system and contain information true about all sections of the course, no matter when they're been taught, who's teaching them, or how they're being delivered. Each course homepage also contains links to active section homepages for that particular course.
What goes on a section homepage?
This is where you put all the information about exactly how you teach the class, including expectations and grading and other policies. Essentially, a section homepage contains pretty much the same info as the printed syllabus you would typically hand out on the first day of class. However, the section homepage normally should NOT contain the daily or weekly schedule of topics, homework, or other activities; that goes on your CATE schedule page. Depending on what components you decide to use for your class website, your section homepage will almost certainly contain navigational links to all those components.
What goes on other pages?
Different CATE modules handle components for your class schedule, lectures, gradebook, communications, etc.
Why You Need Section Homepages
In addition to providing the place to display information about how you teach your class, section homepages play an important technical role in the CATE system and in the larger navigational framework.
- The SRJC schedule of classes is constructed so that for each section listed there, a link leads to the appropriate CATE section homepage. If you don't create and activate your section homepage, you don't get that link.
- Certain class components -- such as Message Lists, Chat Rooms, and gradebooks -- will not function unless constructed for a specific section homepage.
- The CATE passwording and authentication system relies on section homepages.
- The ability to have the system automatically build an entire class website for you is completely dependent on your section homepage.
Consequently, you will almost certainly want to create a homepage for each section you teach.
Let us emphasize some points you might or might not already know something about.
The CATE Help Menu contains links to dozens of useful documents, quick guides, "How To's," etc. You can find it here: http://online.santarosa.edu/catedocs/helpmain.html
In addition, every editing page within your CATE account contains a context-sensitive Help link that leads to a document with complete information about that particular part of the system. If you're ever puzzled or uncertain about what to do, the context-sensitive Help link should always be your first line of defense.
Recycling section homepages
If you make a section homepage for a course in one semester, that semester ends, and it's time to teach the same course in the next semester, do NOT make a new section homepage!
Instead, you should simply change the semester and dates on the existing section homepage (and update anything else you want) and use it all over again for the new semester. Any other approach is guaranteed to cause you more work and aggravation. At the end of every semester and beginning of every semester, we send out email reminders with a link to the Help document explaining exactly how to archive, purge, and reuse your section homepages and class websites.
Do yourself a favor and follow those instructions so you avoid a ton of unnecessary work and confusion.
Multiple sections and the cloning mechanism
If you teach multiple sections of the same course in the same semester, you will want a homepage for each section. However, you don't need to build them individually. Instead, it's almost always far, far easier to build the first one, make sure you have it the way you want it, then clone it. That will give you an exact copy of the original, and you can edit the clone(s) for your additional section(s).
Links on section homepages
Depending on whether you're teaching a face-to-face class or an online class, you might want your section homepage to contain links to files you've uploaded or external websites. Those links are not hard to make. However, if you're teaching multiple sections of the same course, it can be very clumsy to create and maintain an identical set of links on multiple section homepages.
Therefore, before you begin adding links to your section homepage, think carefully about the best way to organize those links in a manner so that you need only do the work one time in one place for ALL the sections of a particular course.
Here's a Help document that talks about how to create, organize, and maintain links easily and efficiently for multiple sections: http://online.santarosa.edu/catedocs/section_links.html
Uploading syllabi and other files
If you're teaching an online class, in general you will not (and should not) be uploading syllabi or other kinds of files. For an online class, in almost every case you'll be building components in the CATE system, not uploading files.
If you're teaching a FTF class, then you might want to upload some files for your students. However, in most cases you'll be better off using the CATE system to build and maintain those files, rather than uploading files you've created on your desktop.
In any event, before you decide to start uploading files for your students, you need to make sure you understand the issues involved with proprietary file formats, viruses propagated by files, and accessibility compliance for students with disabilities. We'll be tackling those topics in an upcoming lesson.
The magic button for creating class components
The CATE system is designed so that you can create, configure, and maintain any components you want to use for your class website. The Section Homepage module also has a "magic button" that will automatically create a complete, standardized class website for you. If you need a complete class website, this is usually the best approach to take (unless you really want to manually build a non-standard website). On the other hand, if you don't really need them, using the button to automatically create all those components will probably just confuse the heck out of you and your students.
Therefore, when you see the option to have the system build your class website for you, stop a moment and think about whether you really need all those extra components.
A section homepage is the basic building block of a class website, and it contains information about how you teach the class, what you expect from your students, and what they should expect from you. For example, a section homepage should contain information about how you grade, how you handle late assignments, and so forth.
In general, a section homepage contains all the information you would normally hand your students in a printed syllabus on the first day of class. (However, a section homepage does NOT contain information about the day-by-day or week-by-week schedule of what you'll be covering in class; in the CATE system, that kind of material goes on the schedule page, which is created with the Schedule module.)
Each section homepage is for one and only one section. Two or more sections can't "share" a section homepage.
You should have a section homepage for each section you're teaching.
Section homepages are created in the Section Homepage module.
You can create a section homepage from scratch, or you can clone one of your own section homepages, or you can clone a section homepage belonging to another instructor (if it has been made available for cloning).
For any given semester, you can only have homepages for sections you've actually been assigned to teach. If you try to create a homepage for a section being taught by someone else, the system will prevent you from using the section number that doesn't belong to you.
When a section is being taught by more than one instructor, only one homepage can be created for that section. If more than one instructor attempts to use that section number for that semester, the system will disallow it, even if you're listed as one of the instructors. It's up to the relevant instructors to decide which one should create the homepage for the section. (But keep in mind any/all instructors can create other components for the same class.)
Other than you, no one can see your section homepage until you open it for public access. The system will not allow you to open a homepage for a section of a semester that has not yet been permanentized.
You can manually close a section homepage at any time. If you have not already done so, the system will automatically close (not delete!) all your section homepages shortly after the semester ends. The system will not let you open homepages for sections from old semesters.
In some cases, you might want to work on a homepage for a section of a semester which has not yet been permanentized. In that case, you have two choices.
- You can use the number "0000" for the section
- You can use the year "2099" for the section.
The system will always allow you to use section number 0000 and/or the year 2099 -- even when used by multiple instructors for the same semester -- because the system recognizes them and treats them in a special manner.
When you know your real section number, at that time you can edit the number and/or year as appropriate.
Building Your Section Homepage
You can have as many section homepages as you need. (But remember that you can recycle them again and again from one semester to the next, so you probably won't need many.) Thus, when you arrive at the menu for the Section Homepage module you might already have some sections on file.
If so, you can select the corresponding radio button to reach an existing course, then click the "View/Edit/Clone/Delete Section" button near the bottom of the page.
Whether or not you currently have any section homepages on file, you will always have the "Add a New Section" button and "Clone Someone Else's Section" button near the top of the page (under the Help link).
If you know of a colleague's section homepage you want to use as a starting point, and if that person has configured the section homepage to allow it to be cloned, then you can do so.
And of course you can always view, edit, clone, or delete any of your sections at any time.
For our purposes, however, the starting point of the process is the "Add a New Section" button.
Adding a new section homepage
When you click the "Add a New Section" button, you'll be required right off the bat to specify the course for the section, because a section must be attached to a course. It can't exist in a vacuum. Select the appropriate discipline from the scrolling pick list, then click the button to confirm. If you're just practicing, it's a good idea to select the ersatz "CATE" discipline until you're really ready to build a real section homepage. (And remember, you can always move your section from one discipline/course to another discipline/course.)
After choosing a discipline, you'll see a list of all active courses in that discipline. Use the corresponding radio button to select one, then click the "Confirm Adding Section" button.
The next screen will offer you the option to create optional class components for the new section. Pause here and think about it. Just because the system is willing to create all these components for you, that doesn't mean you really need them. They might simply clutter up everything and confuse you and your students. If you're just learning about section homepages, you'll probably want to skip the components for now. You can always add them later.
For our purposes, we're going to skip the optional class components and talk about that later in this lesson.
Now that you have a section homepage, you'll discover it's pretty empty, so you'll need to start filling it with information about how you teach the class.
Before we do, that however, here are some notes about some of the buttons, routines, and options you'll have available for each section.
View Section Homepage: This button allows you to see your section homepage, even if it is not yet opened for business and no one else can see it. Note that after you click on this button, it's okay -- in fact, necessary -- to click on your browser's "Back" button in order to return to the editing page.
To Roster: This button takes you to the Student Roster module for this section, with a plethora of administrative routines for managing students.
Menu: This button takes you back to the menu of all your section homepages.
Prev Section and Next Section: These buttons will only appear when you can click to see the next section or previous section on file in your account.
Clone Section: This is the routine you can use to make an exact copy of this section homepage. An excellent choice when you're teaching more than one section of the same course in a single semester.
Move Section: This button allows you to detach the section from one discipline/course and attach it to another discipline/course.
Class Components: If you haven't already created the optional class components for this section, this button will allow you to do so.
Delete Section: If you really want to delete this section homepage, this is the routine.
The editing process
You can edit any part of your section homepage any time you want in any order.
However, when you create a new section homepage, it is far more efficient to go through the standard editing process.
- Use the "Basic Information" button to enter/edit the initial information for the class, such as section number and semester
- Use the "Instructor Information" button to enter/edit the default data
- Go through the center column of buttons from top to bottom and enter text for those headings as you deem appropriate
- Optionally, use the "Links of Interest" button to make links to other files
- Optionally, use the "Image" button to put a picture at the top of the page
- Use the "Layout and Colors" button for beautification
- Finally, when you're ready, use the "Make this section homepage accessible to visitors" option under "Basic Information" to activate your section homepage
To reiterate, you can always go back and edit any of this information at any time.
Select the checkbox for "Make this section homepage accessible to visitors" whenever you're ready to allow students and other visitors to see it.
Select the checkbox for "Allow other instructors to freely clone this section" if you're okay with that.
Enter the section number. If you don't know the section number, or this is just for practice, enter 0000. You can always change it later.
Select the semester by clicking the corresponding radio button.
Enter the year. Must be four digits. You can use 2099 if you're not sure.
Remember, the system will only allow you to create a homepage for a section you're really teaching, or else section 0000. The system will also prevent you from opening a section homepage for an old semester or a future semester.
Optionally enter the room number, building, and campus where the class meets.
Optionally enter the relevant dates for the section.
Optionally enter the days and times when class meets.
You can adjust the search configs as desired, but the default values should be fine.
Most of the time it is not necessary to adjust any of this data.
By default, the main information you entered on your personal homepage -- your name, title, email address, photo, etc -- will automatically appear on your section homepage. That's almost always exactly what you want.
However, if desired you can override that input and enter alternative information for the section homepage.
Likewise, you can also enter information for as many as two other instructors and a teaching assistant.
Buttons and headings
The labels on the buttons on the center column correspond to (potential) headings on your section homepage. The buttons are arranged in the same sequence from top to bottom as the (potential) headings on your personal homepage. You can use whatever button(s) you want, and ignore the others. For each button you choose to enter text, the corresponding heading will appear on the page immediately above that text. If there is no text, the heading won't appear.
Click on any button to enter or edit text for the corresponding heading. You can type in the text or you can paste it in from elsewhere (such as a MS Word document).
After entering/editing the text to your satisfaction, click the "Save Text" button.
Note that three of the buttons have user-configurable headings, so that -- along with the text -- you can enter whatever you want for each of those headings.
If you need to add links to the bottom of your section homepage, use the "Links of Interest" button. The options there will allow you to create links several different ways, and you can also organize them, make headings, edit them, and delete them as you see fit. However, keep in mind that in many cases you will want to put all the links for a particular course onto a single centralized page (built in the Presentation module) where all your sections can easily access everything.
Optionally, you can place an image near the top of your section homepage. This routine will give you some basic options for generic images, or -- if you know about images -- you can place any picture you want.
Layout and Colors
After you've taken care of all the above steps, you should adjust your layout and colors. To begin with, everything is black and white, but there are countless options available to you.
You can set the width of the page (in pixels or as a percentage of the browser window) and decide if you want the page centered or not.
You can pick one of the layout templates. (Each is illustrated with a thumbnail to give you an idea of what it looks like.)
You can leave your font faces and sizes at the default values, or you can override them by making your own choices with the radio buttons. This allows you to separately control headings and body text.
Finally, you can select a color scheme. This can be one of the many ready-made color schemes designed by our student designers, or you can scroll down the page and go hog wild with customizing background colors, background images, spot colors, heading colors, text colors, link colors, etc. Just remember that the page needs to be attractive, legible, and contain suitable contrast for students with low vision.
Finally, when you're ready, go back to the "Basic Information" button and select the checkbox for "Make this section homepage accessible to visitors." Save your changes and the section homepage will be activated and available to students, colleagues, and other visitors (unless you've chosen section number 0000, the year 2099, etc).
The Magic Button: Creating Class Components Automatically
Depending on your needs, you likely will want to create various class components -- such as schedule page, lecture pages, Message List, gradebook, etc -- for your section.
To do so, you can use the appropriate modules and make whatever you want.
Alternatively, within the Section Homepage module you can automatically create standardized class components. You can do so on the fly when you initially create a section homepage, or you can do so at a later time by using the "Class Components" button.
You won't always need these components. If you don't, you shouldn't use this process, because it will just cause more work and confusion for you and your students. If you actually need the components, however, this is the perfect technique to create them.
On the page where you create the components, give them a name. Don't use a section number as part of the name! That will change every semester and muddy the waters. It's usually best to choose a name based on the course number, such as ENGL 1A. If you fail to enter a name, the system will generate its own name, but that's never a good idea.
After naming the components, enter the number of presentation pages you want. These are the pages where your lectures and other teaching materials reside. You can have as many as you want, and you can always add or delete pages, but if you already know how many you need, things will be especially smooth.
Next, choose your preferred terminology, such as Week 1, Lesson 1, Unit 1, or so on.
Select the checkbox if you want the standard format on the top of each presentation page.
If you want a Chat Room, in Box, and/or gradebook, select the corresponding checkbox(es).
Finally, if you want a gradebook, and you know the number of assignments you need, select that box and enter the number.
When you're ready, confirm your choices and the system will build everything for you within a couple of seconds.
No matter what choices you make, you will always be able to use the appropriate module(s) to add, edit, or delete components at any time.
When you create and activate your section homepage, all the basic navigational links are automatically handled for you, so that students and other visitors can find and reach your section homepage via the SRJC schedule of classes, the CATE directory of classes, your CATE personal homepage, the appropriate CATE course homepage, etc.
If your section homepage comprises your entire website for that class -- that is, you won't be building any other class components, such as a schedule page, lecture pages, Message List, etc -- then you probably don't need to worry about navigation at all.
However, if you're uploading files via the File Management module you'll want to make links to those files. To make links from your section homepage to uploaded files (or other resources), you'll need to utilize the "Links of Interest" button for that section homepage in the Section Homepage module. However, as always, you might be better off making a link leading to your centralized page(s) built in the Presentation module. You might also decide to use a nav bar.
If you're uploading files for your students to see, you might want to use a nav bar.
If you're building additional class components -- such as a schedule page, lecture pages, Message List, etc -- then you probably will want to use a nav bar.
If you're building a website for a class being delivered online, then you will definitely want to use a nav bar to create a standardized, consistent, navigational interface for your class.
We'll talk more about nav bars and other navigational issues in upcoming lessons.
Study the Help module for this topic. Think of this as a chapter in your textbook.
How to...Use Automated Links: http://online.santarosa.edu/catedocs/howto_use_links.html
How to...Activate a Page: http://online.santarosa.edu/catedocs/howto_activate_page.html
How to...Move a Section: http://online.santarosa.edu/catedocs/howto_move_section.html
How to...Make Links to Uploaded Files: http://online.santarosa.edu/catedocs/howto_link_to_upload.html
How to...Create Links to All Files in a Directory: http://online.santarosa.edu/catedocs/howto_files_in_dir.html
How to...Create a Class Website: http://online.santarosa.edu/catedocs/howto_create_class.html
How to...Run Multiple Sections Simultaneously: http://online.santarosa.edu/catedocs/howto_run_multiple.html
Visit CATE section homepages built by your colleagues.
Section homepages: http://online.santarosa.edu/course
To see how all the components covered in these lessons fit together, please visit the sample class website.
Sample class website
After studying all the material for this lesson, take the self-assessment quiz.
CATE Online Training Quiz 02: Section homepages
Demonstration (For face-to-face sessions)
We'll demonstrate how to go through the step-by-step process of building a presentation from beginning to end.
|To help you better understand the material, to integrate the different modules, and to demonstrate how an entire class can be constructed from various components, in each lesson you'll be creating a portion of a class website, so at the end of the process you'll have a complete model of an entire class. |
To begin with, you should always use a practice course (such as CATE 101, ROCK 101, or BASE 101) for your exercises. After you've mastered the process and created material that's ready for your students, then you can convert your practice class into a real class that you're actually teaching and make it accessible.
Here's the exercise for this lesson:
Build at least one section homepage.
Enter (or paste) all the information per the process outlined above.
Activate your section homepage.
Make sure the link to the section homepage automatically appears on your personal homepage and on the appropriate course homepage. If this section homepage is just for practice, or if you don't know the section number, use "0000" but understand what that means to automated linking.
Lab (For face-to-face sessions)
We'll walk around the room and assist individually as you undertake the exercises for this material.
WWII 101 A plain-vanilla sample class website
Rock 101 A fancier sample class website
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