Variety and Originality
Visit Hmong Culture and you will find not only written text, but also stories, photo essays, interviews, audio and even hand-drawn colored pencil drawings. The variety of media and original sources works well together. The originality and clean presentation of these elements encourages learning about Hmong culture, which in turn helps the site achieve its educational objectives. This all requires forethought and imagination, and it deserves recognition.
Shaolin, The Influence and Hmong Culture primarily and successfully promote understanding of cultural and historical topics. But within each you'll find connections being made to contemporary life. In Shaolin, visitors can learn about the martial arts influence on current day hip hop, animation, movies and video games. Similarly, Hmong Traditions reflects on contemporary Hmong customs around families, courtship, marriage and more. These ties with contemporaneity require insight and creativity. They add original content and a fresh perspective to enhance the learning experience.
Home Page Presentation
Chinese Zodiac opens to an impressive home page. It establishes a bold design and a clear, appealing navigational structure. It clarifies the site's educational objectives and also engages you with compelling interactive elements, asking you to "Find your animal!" or test your knowledge. It even uses a sample of music to set the tone of the site. These elements work well together to attract your attention and interest. The home page makes you want to stay to explore the site and its topic. In doing so, it creates a very effective gateway into the learning environment.
Complexity and Controversy
In Nanking Massacre: The Untold Story, the site's creators selected a challenging topic and, as they would discover while doing their research, a controversial one too. The historical debate over what happened in Nanking still sparks emotion today. By researching and presenting different historical perspectives, the team confronts this challenge objectively and without bias. To confront this kind of complexity is to demonstrate its educational value. In ways, the controversy becomes the subject of the site. Do the winners of war write the history? How does one reconcile the accuracy of conflicting data and statements of "fact"? In struggling with these sensitive questions, the site inspires reflection and contemplation. This promotes understanding and empathy towards both sides of the controversy. It shows that what one knows about a subject is sometimes less important than how one thinks about it.
Expository Writing Presentation
Look how well the Shaolin, The Influence and Hmong Culture sites organize their expository writing. The page designs are simple and attractive. They balance the presentation of textual paragraphs with images, and they provide enough space around these elements to make a cohesive whole. This isn't easy! Also notice the consistent presence of references and citations. These sites recognize the educational value of appropriate attribution of source materials, and they openly credit contributions of others. This attention to intellectual honesty deserves a spotlight. If the presentation could be improved, it would support easier navigation from the pages where the material is presented back to the original source pages, where applicable. Being able to check references is critical to learning, but, at the same time, it shouldn't distract from learning. All teams who entered the contest can appreciate this dilemma.