What is this class all about?

This is the first Massive Open Online Class (MOOC) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The title of this class is Building a Basic Website, and it runs from May 20, 2013, to June 28, 2013.

What will students learn?

This class will cover the skills necessary to build a basic website. Over the course of twelve lessons, the class will introduce you to design principles, HTML5, CSS, working with images, modifying templates, incorporating external plugins, and putting your site online with FTP. There will be twelve lessons to practice these skills, and in the process students will build your own website.

How does the class work?

This is the first Massive Open Online Class (MOOC) at UMass Amherst, and it's an exciting experiment for us. The video lessons, most class materials, and interviews with professionals will be public on this site.

The 1,000 students who signed up for the class can also log in to each lesson to complete self-guided assignments and participate in discussions with their classmates and the instructor. Enrolled students receive feedback on their progress and a certificate of their achievement if they complete all twelve lessons. The class is completely free to students.

Is this a journalism class?

Though these skills are useful for journalism students, this is not a journalism class. It is designed for a general audience.

Why are we offering this class for free?

This is an exciting experiment for us in the Journalism Program and for UMass Amherst. As journalists, we believe in open information. As teachers, we know these web design and development skills are in demand. As employees of a state university, we want everyone in Massachusetts to have access to a good public education. We think this model could be a great way to prepare students for more advanced topics here at UMass Amherst and beyond.

Do students earn credit for completing this course?

No, students will not earn credit from UMass Amherst. Students will earn a certificate of accomplishment if you enroll and pass all twelve lessons, and can enroll in one of our other online journalism classes or classes in other subjects.

Project Sponsorship

This course is supported by the UMass Amherst College of Social and Behaviorial Sciences, the Office of the Provost, the Office of Information Technologies and the UMass Journalism Program.

Instructor and Content Producer

Brian McDermott

Course Web Design and Development

Brian McDermott
Bri Hermanson
Zoe Pappenheimer

Moodle Web Design and Development

Michelle Turre
Fred Zinn
Alexandra Deschamps
Dave Martin
Iris Chelaru

OWL Web Design and Development

Nicolas Scarrci
Gail Parsloe
Dave Hart
Stephen Battisti
Mayumi Fraser
Cindy Stein
Cindy Loiselle
Lizzie Moll

Student Assistants

Michelle Woodward
Aviva Luttrell

Illustration Above

Kim Rosen


Zoe Pappenheimer
Brian McDermott
Rahmah Pauzi
Shaheen Pasha

Music in the Videos

Home Body (Eric Hnatow and Haley Morgan)

About the Instructor

Brian McDermott joined the journalism faculty at UMass Amherst full-time in September 2009 and has been the co-director of the Journalism Online program since 2012. He began his career as a photojournalist, and since going west to Montana for graduate school in 2005 has taken a new media path. He has designed and built numerous websites, including the UMass Journalism Program's site.