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 From Now On
The Educational Technology Journal

Vol 9|No 8|April|2000





The New Lesson Plan


by Jamie McKenzie
about the author


New technologies may be offering a promising kind of lesson plan that is both user friendly and resource rich.

A few years ago, Web-based lessons plans required knowledge of HTML raw code. Then the raw code dropped away as user friendly editors arrived to speed and ease the process of creating Web pages.

But there was still a big problem or challenge for teachers: finding someone in the school (or district) who would allow the posting of the page on the school Web site. In all too many districts Web publishing is a torturous process requiring multiple approvals and much patience. Bureaucratic delays can deter and discourage the most enterprising teachers.

Fortunately, recent versions of major word processing programs allow teachers to create pages of clear lesson instructions with links to Web resources built into them. These lessons may be easily shared with students as files without bothering to post them on a Web site. In districts with student e-mail, the teacher can send the lesson to students as an attachment. In districts allowing teachers to post materials on the school fileservers, the lessons can be up and running the same day they are created. In those places providing less access for students and teachers, the lesson can be passed around by diskette.

How would such a lesson look? Download this Word file and try it.

This same lesson is available in HTML format in the Web at

Why make such a big deal over such a minor point?

Teacher Power

As I work with teachers across North America and in other countries, there never seems to be enough time . . . not enough time to invent great lessons to convert the often disorganized Net into a benefit. Some teachers' dissatisfaction with electronic resources comes from the lack of structure and the extensive effort required to make valuable use.

Web page development is a bit hard to sell to the hard pressed classroom teacher. But I have seen eyes light up when word processor Web lessons are shown. Having worked with teams to construct Research Modules (see the list at, I know that it often takes a team of 4-6 teachers three days to complete such a unit plan using HTML. While few districts will provide the extra pay for such invention, the new lesson plan described above might work well for even the hard pressed teacher.

In order to encourage such "short cuts" I have modified Module Maker - a set of online lesson construction pages - to support this new approach with templates (examples).


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Credits: The photographs were shot by Jamie McKenzie. Icons from Jay Boersma at (http://www.ECNet.Net/users/gas52r0/Jay/home.html)Copyright Policy: Materials published in From Now On may be duplicated in hard copy format if unchanged in format and content for educational, nonprofit school district and university use only and may also be sent from person to person by e-mail. This copyright statement must be included. All other uses, transmissions and duplications are prohibited unless permission is granted expressly. Showing these pages remotely through frames is not permitted.
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