While I am a Classicist by profession, my work has required that I become web developer over the years. I have had to learn real-time, with hundreds to thousands of students and parents using the websites as I figured out how to present lesson material and assessments as effectively as possible. I’ve made some mistakes over the years, but I’ve also learned a great deal.
The greatest challenge comes from the mission of the Classical Liberal Arts Academy itself. This work of restoring classical Catholic is not a business that can be run as a simple business endeavor would. The mission is evangelistic and cultural, and the nature of the studies we’re promoting are not studies that students can afford to invest great sums of money in. They are liberal arts. Thus, I am always challenged to not only consider what is possible, but what actually allows us to fulfill our mission.
In my 13 of website development, I’ve learned how the internet works and what makes for an excellent website. It’s the opposite of what most think. While most are interested in new technologies and fancy features, which is actually the opposite of what the internet rewards. Google, for example, seeks simple text-based websites which load fast and contain high quality original content. It would make Aristotle very happy. This past week, Google’s page inspection program awarded the CLAA website with perfect scores. As with everything else, less is more. We know what’s needed, now we need to do it.
The first improvement I am making as I seek to establish a permanent online home for our curriculum and academic services is a radical simplification of our website. I will be stripping al unnecessary features, images, etc., and focusing entirely on content. This is the key to a fast, high-quality website that meets the highest standards for web development.
The second improvement I am making is to have the entire CLAA curriculum be freely accessible to all users. I will be moving all of our courses and lessons out from the password-protected lesson system into simple, public pages on our website, which all can access directly. There will be no need for students to enroll in courses or enter login information to access study materials. Login will only be needed for enrolled students to access their individual student pages (which we will manage manually) and other academic services (forums, quizzes, tests, assignments, multimedia resources, etc.). The complicated enrollment system will be eliminated, being unnecessary.
You can see what lessons will look like by going to Curriculum > Humanities > World Chronology and seeing how the pages and lessons are arranged.
Enrolled students will need active Google Suite accounts, which we provide at no cost. These accounts will give them access to quizzes and exams, assignment grading, slideshow tutorials, and more.
We have already begun making this transition and will move all content over the next few months. God willing, we will have this completed this summer. Once finished, the benefits available on the website will be quite impressive and many will enjoy free access to the restored classical Catholic curriculum.
William C. Michael, “Webmaster”
Classical Liberal Arts Academy