Lesson 1: Exploring Websites
Every website has a purpose, a reason someone created it and others use it. In this lesson, students will start to consider the purposes a website might serve, both for the users and the creators. Students will explore a handful of the most-used websites in the United States and try to figure out how each of those sites is useful for users and how they might also serve their creators.
Unit 2 is all about the World Wide Web, with a focus on creating websites for self expression. To start students thinking about why they might want to create a website, they must begin to consider how websites are useful tools for both users and creators. The lesson starts with popular websites because they all serve clear purposes for a large number of users, but eventually students are asked to narrow their vision to simpler sites that might serve the needs of a smaller user group.
Warm Up (10 minutes)
Activity (45 minutes)
Wrap Up (5 min)
Students will be able to:
- Identify the reasons someone might visit a given website
- Identify the reasons someone might create a given website
- Print a copy of The Purpose of Websites - Activity Guide for each student.
For the Teacher
- The Purpose of Websites - Exemplar
For the Students
- Website - A collection of interlinked web pages on the World Wide Web
Warm Up (10 minutes)
Websites vs. Apps: You may find that students don't think that they actually visit websites very frequently, because they use apps instead. If you encounter this, encourage students to consider whether those apps might actually just a streamlined way to visit a website. Facebook, for example, might be used more frequently from an app, but it's actually a website underneath it all.
The Last Website you Visited
Set Up: Have students take out their journal. In their journal have students answer the following prompt.
Prompt: What was the last website you visited? Why did you go to that website?
Goal: The goal of having this discussion is to pull out that websites share information and that people go to websites for a particular purpose. You only stay on that website if it fulfills your needs.
Discuss: Have students share out the last website they visited. Make sure students share why they went to that website and what information they were looking for. In addition you can ask students whether or not the website provided the information they wanted.
Activity (45 minutes)
Websites We Use Frequently
Prompt: With a neighbor, come up with a list of what you think are the top 5 most frequently visited websites. These can include websites that you visit often, but also consider which pages the other people in your life use frequently.
Share: Have groups share out their top 5 websites lists, keeping track of unique sites on the board.
Goal: The intent of this discussion is to get students thinking about both why people make websites, and why they use websites. Push students to give detailed purposes for some of the websites that the class generated.
Discuss: Why do you think these websites are so commonly used? What purpose do they serve, or what problems do they solve?
Finding the Purpose
We came up with a lot of reasons why people might use some of the most visited websites, but that's only one side of the picture. The people who make websites also have their own reasons for doing so. In the next activity, you're going to start thinking about the purposes that various websites serve for both the user and the creator.
Group: Put students in pairs.
Distribute: Pass out a copy of The Purpose of Websites - Activity Guide to each student.
The Purpose of Websites
The goal of this activity to get students to consider why different websites were created. They don't need to necessarily get it "right" for each site, but they should demonstrate that they have considered the potential purposes that a website might serve for the creator. If students struggle to identify the purpose a site serves its creator, consider asking the following prompts:
- Does the web site sell goods or services?
- Do users contribute anything (images, information, reviews) that might be useful to the creator?
- Does the site include any paid advertising?
This first page of this activity guide asks students to consider what purposes some of the most visited websites might serve. Using a list of the top ten websites in the US, student pairs select three sites that interest them and for each discuss:
- Why people might use that site (what purpose does it serve users?)
- Why the creators might have made that site (what purpose does it serve the creators?)
Encourage students to be as detailed as possible when brainstorming the purposes of these sites.
Share: Once everyone has had a chance to brainstorm about their sites, give the class a chance to share out their thoughts.
The second page of this activity guide encourages students to transition from thinking about huge sites that serve the needs of millions of people, to the much smaller kinds of sites they could create, which can still effectively serve the needs of a narrower group of users.
Read through the personal website description with the class:
Website Description: Julia wants to become a better home cook, so she started a blog where she can post about the recipes she tries. Each week Julia attempts a new recipe and adds a page about it to her blog. Sometimes the recipes go really well and her blog readers leave her encouraging comments. Occasionally her recipe attempts don’t go so well, but she still posts and usually gets some helpful advice from her readers. After starting to blog about the meals she makes, Julia has started to cook more often and is attempting dishes that she never would have tried before.
Discuss: Give students an opportunity to ask questions about this example site. Make sure they understand how a small site that is primarily a tool for individual self expression can also be a useful site for other people.
The final questions on the activity guide ask students to come up with potential purposes this website serves both for its creator and its users.
Share: Ask for volunteers to share the purposes they came up with.
Wrap Up (5 min)
Web Development Goals
Journal: At this point we've just scratched the surface of what websites really are, and we haven't even begun to create websites of our own. In your journal, come up with three goals for yourself this unit. These could be related to improving on one of our class practices, learning how to make a specific kind of web site, or creating a site that serves some purpose for you or others.
- Lesson Overview
- Student Overview
Every website has a purpose, a reason someone created it and others use it. In this lesson, students will start to consider the purposes a website might serve, both for the users and the creators. Students will explore a handful of the most-used websites in the US and try to figure out how each of those sites is useful for users and how they might also serve their creators.
- Website - A location connected to the Internet that maintains one or more pages on the World Wide Web.
- Top Websites
- Student Overview
Top 10 Websites in the US
The following are the top ten most frequently visited websites in the United States. Each includes a brief description of the website's core function.
- Google.com - Search engine for websites, pictures, videos, and other media
- Youtube.com - User-submitted video site with ratings and comments
- Facebook.com - Social media community that allows users to share information with friends
- Reddit.com - User-generated news site where users can submit and vote on links
- Amazon.com - Online shopping sites for all kinds of goods
- Wikipedia.org - Free encyclopedia with content created by volunteer users
- Yahoo.com - News portal and search engine
- Twitter.com - Microblogging service for users to share short messages with a wide audience
- Netflix.com - TV and movie streaming service
- Ebay.com - International auction site
CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards
IC - Impacts of Computing
- 2-IC-20 - Compare tradeoffs associated with computing technologies that affect people's everyday activities and career options.