File Libraries On Your School’s Web Site Are An Untapped Resource

MultiMedia Schools, September/October 1998, p. 46

A powerful use of the Web, but one which few schools exploit fully, is the ability to have users download files from a Web page. Basically, you can set up a library of computer files on the Web so that when students or teachers click on a link, the file automatically downloads to their computer. There are a few things to watch out for, though, when setting up such a library:

  1. Since files will be stored on a Web server computer that is probably different from the Macintosh or PC most people use, be aware of compatibility issues. Certain file types on certain kinds of servers need special attention to work properly. Be sure to test downloads before making them public.

  2. Realize that file sizes are a major factor when building a downloadable file library. It could take too long for users with slow Internet connections to download large files. Be sure to label the size and type of file, so users know what to expect in terms of download times.

  3. To keep download times to a minimum, compress files whenever possible using utility programs that ship with most Web browsers or operating systems. “Stuff-It” is the program of choice for the Mac; “WinZip” is the popular choice on Windows machines.

  4. Macintosh files can be particularly problematic. Use a feature called “BinHex” to make the file as compatible as possible with servers and Web browsers.

  5. Evaluate the need to set up security features in the download area if access needs to be restricted to a certain group of users.

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