Homepages of German dental schools – a target group-oriented evaluation
The Internet represents the central communication medium in higher education. University applicants, students, teachers and scientists use the Internet when seeking information on medicine. The homepages of dental schools are not just sources of information, but also a means of presenting the school. No comparative studies have been undertaken concerning the content and extent of their Internet sites so far.
Based on the literature and assessments of medical school websites, 136 criteria were defined within the setting of a Delphi procedure and drawn upon for a standardised evaluation of the websites of all 30 German dental schools. Structure and extent of the content of the websites were evaluated. Possible influencing factors, such as financial resources and number of applicants, were investigated.
The results yielded by the homepages varied considerably. The best Internet site received 84% of the possible points, the poorest 38%. On average, 62% of the criteria were fulfilled. Influencing factors, such as the amount of funding by the particular state government, could not be detected. Two-thirds of the dental schools addressed students, three-fourth teachers and scientists as target groups. More than 50% did not address applicants. Specific requirements regarding barrier-free accessibility of information were hardly met.
Individual faculties already have homepages of a high quality; for others, there is a need for improvement. General recommendations for university websites should be discussed at the European level to ensure a uniform standard of quality. The criteria presented here offer faculties the possibility to reflect upon their own Internet sites.