In today’s society, it is important to turn our attention to the internet as a forceful medium for information retrieval. According to a study by Mary Madden of the Pew Internet and American Life Project
, by April 2006, 147 million American adults were found to be internet users. Hence, the internet is the most technologically advanced method for offering educational tools that will help users advance their
knowledge of any given subject area. One such website found on the internet, which is a 2006 Webby Award Winner
for its law category, is called Justice Learning
. This website is something that Native Hawaiians should look to replicate if they want to establish more of a web presence to educate their underrepresented minority group, and to offer needed resources to learn about what types of rights Native Hawaiians currently have. Adherence to these six criteria
were essential in winning a 2006 Webby Award: content, structure and navigation, visual design, functionality, interactivity, and overall experience. Each area will be explored through the general evaluation of the website. Web Style Guide
will also be used as a measure for this site. Justice Learning provides a tailored look at the most pressing issues in our society through its well-organized format and multiple functions.
The first thing to notice about the website is its clear organizational structure of the homepage which is inviting to the viewer. The simplistic, yet modestly professional look of the website indicates that adults, with an emphasis on those in the teaching profession, are vast in number to the site, although middle school and high school students would be more inclined to use this resource for class projects or reports on key civil issues. In the upper left hand corner of the site depicts a gavel atop textbooks, which is a strong image that fits into the dominant theme for the website. The homepage is also broken up into three sections. Two slim left and right margins are aligned to support a wider middle portion of the screen, which is encapsulated by an issues section, a Constitutional learning
section, and a guide to what the three branches of governments are saying about certain pertinent issues, with analysis of what the press and people in the academic field are saying as well. It is safe to assume that this site endures on the basis of its strict attention to issues such as zero tolerance
, voting rights
, race and education
, civil liberties in war
, and women’s rights
. The issues section on the home page displays six key issues every time the website loads, but if one clicks on the link below this six-block display, it says "Click here for more Justice Learning Issues
." This link brings the viewer to a complete listing of the ten issues that the site covers.
In one such specific issue page called "Voting Rights
", which is a sample representation of the the remaining topics, it starts off with an introduction. At the top of the page is a headline, that reads in bold letters "Voting Rights
," with a direct address to the reader that goes like this: "It took 81 years for African Americans to gain a constitutional right to vote, 132 years for women and 183 years for those 18 to 20 years old... Debates about punch
card ballots and electronic voting, redistricting, the Electoral College and campaign financing continue to challenge the nation, forcing changes in the machinery that drives our democratic republic." This introduction is simple, yet enough to get the reader informed about what direction the page will be heading towards. In this case, the user can watch full programs of "The Voting Rights Act: Past, Present and Future
," "Counting Every Vote
," and "Nader v. Dean: The State of Elections
." "Counting Every Vote" is about election-day practices and commentary is offered by two prominent people in accounting firms, Joseph Sandler and Benjamin Ginsburg. The reader may also engage in several readings, which, to name a few, include, "Court Allows a New Approach to Redrawing Districts By Race
," and "Civics Lesson for Students in Vote Drive
." The latter reading talks about young voters "rocking the vote" in hopes that the lowest represented age group, which is young adults ages 18-24, show up to vote on election day.
Native Hawaiians can look to this site's format to help assist them in creating a website, especially in regards to the main "issues" theme. A few Hawaiian themes that could be explored are: The Overthrow of 1893, The Annexation of Hawaii, and the Akaka Bill. Justice Learning promotes a simplistic format, but while doing so, emphasizes its issues well. The criteria for a Webby Award in the Structure and Navigation
category says, "Structure and navigation refers to the framework of a site, the organization of content, the prioritization of information, and the method in which you move through the site." All of this is true in the Justice Learning website because it is a stress-free experience looking through the site's links and the information is easily communicated to the audience. From the home page, everything is clear and straightforward, with headlines inputed where it is necessary and a key issues section that prioritizes the information on the site well. Web Style Guide, on the topic of navigation
, adds that "a rich set of graphic navigation and interactivity links within your Web pages will pull users' attention down the page, weaning them from the general-purpose browser links and drawing them further into your content. Native Hawaiians could use a certain Hawaiian theme for an eloquent page design, such as the use of Kahili (feathered gourds), which would could be clicked on for further information.
This website has the title of “Justice Learning: Civic Education in the Real World
,” and is noted to have a collaboration with two entities, one of which is The New York Times Learning Network, and the other is Justice Talking
. The content on the Justice Learning website seems to be outdated, especially in the “issues” section, with a majority of the more recent articles being dated back to 2004. Although the lack of current material is not very helpful for visitors looking for more up-to-date information, this site could be viewed as more of a historical reference in the most part. For instance, in the Free Speech Issues page,
there is an article titled "Hate Laws Don't Matter, Except When They Do
," which is dated back to October 19, 1998. In this particular essay, it mentions the murder of James Byrd, Jr. and continues to talk about the going-ons of the previous years, with talk of Supreme Court Rulings. This article is outdated almost nine years, which will not account for the time period between 1998 and October 2006 in which many free speech issues were brought to the forefront, especially after 9/11. However, this article does give one a sense of what was going on during the 90's and if this article is read in a retrospective kind of way, it could offer important information. Overall, the website offers an archival approach to presenting information.
In whole, there are seven links on the left margin of the site
, connecting one to “Home
” (an obvious implementation, nonetheless, should not be taken for granted), “Issues
,” “Constitution guide,” “Teaching Materials
,” “Site Guide
,” “Related Products
” and “About Us
.” This column of links sets up the navigational experience for the user. According to the Webby Award judging criteria, "good navigation gets you where you want to go quickly and offers easy access to the breadth and depth of the site's content." All of the links on the website works and open very quickly. On the future Native Hawaiian website, these types of links would be helpful. A couple of links could include a link to the Blount Report
(a report exposing the illegal nature of the overthrow of Queen Liliu'okalani) and a link to United States documents acknowledging Native Hawaiian rights. Other links that would get the user involved would be those that refer to sovereignty groups or get one connected with political activists. Justice Learning also adheres to the homepage criteria
that is set by Web Style Guide
, which says, "in hierarchical organizations, the home page sits at the top of the chart, and all pages in the Web site should contain a direct link back to the home page." This feature on the Justice Learning
website makes it convenient for the user to go back to the homepage without any trouble.
The seven links on the homepage
offer the user plenty of resources. One of the seven, "The Constitution Guide" (which does not have a direct link because it is presented as a pop-up window) offers a quick reference source to look up the Articles of the Constitution, and displays the Preamble when the link is opened. An in-depth analysis of "What It Says" and "What It Means" (referring to each Article) guides a closer look into the different topics selected. Under "What It Means" in the Preamble section, it defines the content, saying, "The preamble is the introduction to the Constitution. It outlines the general goals of the framers: to create a just government, insure peace, an adequate national defense, and a healthy free nation." It then gives a breakdown of the many
connotations that the opening words, "We the People" possess. In continuum with the vast resources this site provides, the "Related Products" page offers one the chance to shop at Justice Learning
, and The New York Times Store.
Through surfing the links and content, it is apparent that potent information is presented in a well-structured format. Web Style Guide
indicates that "the simplest way to organize information is to place it in a sequence." Justice Learning is composed of a clear sequence as a part of its site design. For example, when clicking on one of the pertinent issues, such as Race and Education, a three-part format appears, which includes a description of race and education, a section titled “Listen Up” specifically for the Justice Talking data, and a section titled “Read On
” committed to providing information from The New York Times Learning Network
. The “Listen Up
” section is devoted to the integration of media programs that provide the viewer with a well-rounded educational experience while browsing through the site. The use of sound on this website is strategically placed and used often to serve users who prefer to listen to information, if this is their prerogative. For the more visual learners, the “Read On” section provides articles that give extensive background for the respective subject matter.
A typical viewing experience, for example, would consist of clicking on an issue, one of which is "Race and Education
" and browsing through the links. In the section "Still Segregated? Race in America's Schools
," a webpage opens in which even more links are found. In this case, the Supreme Court Ruling
of Brown v. Board of Education is the central theme. Furthermore, because this link falls under the "Justice Talking
" category, it offers numerous links to program viewing, and other listening devices. There is also a discussion board section on the website, where there is a long log-like structure of question and potential answer sequences. A recap of a specific post on the board
is when mantis_a writes "I am from MS and there is still segregation in the public schools of our capital city. The statistics break down to 96% black and 3% white. Definately not integrated. Why?" In response, Elton John writes, "We have come a long way from where we were as far as segregation goes, but it is still there." This discussion forum is ideally what the interactivity criterion for a Webby Award
calls for: "speak(ing) your mind so others can see, hear or respond." This medium for discussion would be perfect for a Native Hawaiian site, because there should be more opportunity for Hawaiians to express themselves on the web.
Another aspect of the Webby Award
criteria for interactivity relies on "the way that a site allows you to do something. Good interactivity is more than a rollover or choosing what to click on next; it allows you, as a user, to give and receive. It insists that you participate, not spectate." Interactivity on this site is channeled through the advocacy of getting viewers involved in standing up for their rights, or at least getting informed about the issues presented. The interactive experience is more prominent through its designated lesson plan link just for teachers. There is an average of
five lesson plans for each current issue, which is very comprehensive. For the U.N. Peacekeeping issue, author Alison Zimbalist
formulated a lesson plan
that incorporates information on the prospective grade levels for which the plan is targeted, a lesson overview, resources and materials, suggested time allowance, lesson objectives, activities and procedures, further questions for discussion, evaluation/assessment, vocabulary, extension activities, interdisciplinary connections, and a list of other web resources that are relevant. These extensive ready-made lesson plans are a superior incentive for teachers to visit the site. One of the activities listed on the site asks that, "As a class, read and discuss "U.S. Role in Resolution On Mideast Startles Some." After this activity, follow-up questions are in order, such as "In what ways was Resolution 1397 praised upon its approval? "How did some view the United States' role in the drafting of this resolution, and why?" and "What was the final vote on this resolution? What country abstained, and why?" These types of lesson plans are necessary for teachers to have on in a Native Hawaiian context because the children of Hawaii need to learn about certain dominant issues in the Hawaiian community and teachers may need a reference in which to teach the information.
The user-friendly components of this site are the most rewarding aspects. The functionality section of the Webby Awards
criteria states that "functionality is the use of technology on the site. Good functionality means the site works well. It loads quickly, has live links, and any new technology used is functional and relevant for the intended audience." Titles are written in a straightforward manner, all of the links open easily, and ultimately, navigating through the site is stress-free and enjoyable. While the site pays attention to some serious information on the subject matters, the functionality of the site brings a light-hearted feel to the complicated intensity of the content. From the countless links that open quickly, to the compatibility of the files to any browser, the site is technologically savvy without being burdensome.
Overall, the experience with Justice Learning
is engaging, offering curiosity to the viewer while embarking through the website, on the quest for more answers and information. Justice Learning
also contains an in-depth visual component. Web Style Guide
argues that "the primary task of graphic design is to create a strong, consistent visual hierarchy in which important elements are emphasized and content is organized logically and predictably." However, there are two things that would be beneficial to enhancing the effectiveness of the site. First, the articles and content should be more current to be more helpful to the audience. Second, there should be more articles or posts about the ten main issues the site presents. These issues are connected with a large domain of resources and links because of its extensive range of opinions, legislative ties, and controversy, and the site limited information that could have potentially been found for each issue. This may have been out of courtesy, in order to provide a focused spectrum of information covering each topic, however, it would be better to encompass more information for each topic if there is going to be only a handful of sub-themes under the umbrella of Justice Learning
Native Hawaiians would be more prominent in the internet world if websites were established like Justice Learning
. Including ten key Native Hawaiian issues with corresponding links would parallel the Justice Learning
website. Justice Learning’s
purpose is to educate viewers, while persuading them to take the initiative to be active about knowing our rights as citizens of the United States in relation to the key issues acknowledged. A future Native Hawaiian site could include information about what minority rights Native Hawaiians currently have, while educating them and others about the future of the Native Hawaiian self-determination movement. Links to past articles and news history would be preferred, while also following Justice Learning’s links to sound mediums. There are Native Hawaiian websites that are already established, however, the few that I have seen do not meet the elite standards that are set by the Webby Awards judging criteria
and Web Style Guide