Palomar Site Review

Group 4

Professor Barrett-Graves

English 6770 - 01

May 14, 2012

Palomar Shakespeare Site Review

     The question of whether or not a website is a good resource is a very difficult one.  Figuring out whether or not it's a good resource for a teacher is an even more difficult task.  One must verify, if only intuitively, that the resources are valid and have merit, then it must be determined whether the information provided is useful and interesting and, finally, the information has to be applicable to the user's need.  The "Life and Times" page on Mr. William Shakespeare and the Internet, published by Palomar, proves to be daunting in determining all of these things.  Though this site is visually appealing and is replete with vast pedagogical resources appropriate for middle school students to serious scholars, it is not the best site for teachers in the classroom.

     The intent of the "Life & Times" section is to elicit a broad view of Shakespeare’s personal and family history, what his world was like, and what some of his contemporaries, including Ben Johnson, Leonard Digges, and Milton, thought of him. All of the information is sorted chronologically, beginning with the record of his baptism and ending with his death in 1616, which includes information about his will and burial.  Many sub-topics have one or more links to accompanying Google books, articles, and other websites that offer a more detailed explanation. Interestingly, this section of the site does not contain much information about his plays or when they were written, unless there was a notable dedication made, or someone else published a piece of criticism or praise around the time of its release. 

     The "Visuals" section on the "Life and Times" page of Palomar's Shakespeare website creates a historical atmosphere for the reader.  Black-and-white portraits of Shakespeare, homes, and theaters keep the historical context and relevance of the Shakespeare culture. These visuals seems to be strategically placed within the website to break up the flow of text, which makes the reading a lot easier to take in.  Red text is used to highlight hyperlinks to additional information within the headings that are placed on the page.  This can be attractive for exploration and works well for high school juniors, seniors, and college students, who don’t necessarily need as much push to enjoy this site.  For younger students, the lack of color doesn’t create an interesting atmosphere to explore.  Although it contains an enormous amount of great information, the visuals don’t suck the reader in to partake of the knowledge available. 

     Taking into account the potential student and teacher use, this website has fairly intuitive navigation ease.  There are many links, with a lot of valuable historical, biographical and literary information.  The biggest problem I found with the website's navigation was that it has a lot of "dead" links, or links that no longer work.  The website seems to have been last updated in 2009 and, perhaps, it's time for the authors of the site to update it again.

     Teachers are constantly on the lookout for new resources and new information to use in the classroom.  The sheer volume of information on this website is staggering, but its usefulness is another matter.  For students, this is an excellent resource.  The site lists bibliographical information for further study and verification and, as mentioned above, there are numerous copies of primary documents and sources, as well as many artifacts, articles, reviews, etc.  A teacher, however, would probably only use this information in putting together short biographical pieces for introduction to plays in class and there are websites that are not quite as overwhelming for such a task.  Students will find they have a lot of information for paper writing and research and teachers who want to learn more about the Bard would have eyes popped open, but I would suggest another site for classroom use, unless there is a very specific goal or piece of information needed.

     Visuals, navigation ease, whether or not a website is intuitive and has verifiable information are all important to a website's usefulness.  Palomar's Mr. Shakespeare and the Internet site can be very useful for a lot of different people, but for teachers looking for information for a classroom, they should either keep looking, or bring a fine-toothed comb and have several hours to spend!  

Group 4 members:  Jason Champeau, Tyjun Mack, Anushree Saha, Lenae Souza