The Ideal School Web Site

In a stack of papers called Technology.

  • Feb
  • 08
  • 2006

What’s the function of a school Web site? Should it be a spot to brag about school achievements, perhaps even taking the form of a bulletin board? Should it be a place for the community to respond to topics of interest and even interact with school staff through online conversations like blogs? Should it be simply about information, a one-way street of sorts since schools have so much going on at all times? Should it cater to sports, leadership activities, school clubs, staff information, department offerings, news and events, testing data, school needs, achievements? Can it possibly do all of those things?

On each school campus (certainly high school, but I’d imagine on elementary and junior high campuses, too), there should be one point of contact for all technology issues. I’m speaking here of issues other than, “I need computers in my room!” or “I can’t go online today!” Those are hardware issues that need to be handled by an employee of the district, someone who has access to a wider range of expertise, knowledge, and components than typically exists on a single campus.

The technology issues I’m thinking of are mostly software related. “I can’t login to School Loop” would be a common one on my campus. Just as common, though, would be “Can you put this on the Web site?” or even “How can I start my own classroom Web site?”

This single person should also be the person the district office would get a hold of in order to, perhaps, set up some standardized information on the school site if, perhaps, a certain district was inclined to do so, perhaps. Even if, perhaps, said standardization goes against a long-standing district policy and, perhaps, requires quite a few hours to implement, necessitating a partial redesign of the existing site. A-hem.

If district offices were smart, they may also request that all schools prominently display information about upcoming district events on their home pages, things like Parent Empowerment nights or College Fairs. That single person would be in charge of carrying out these requests and maybe even seek out such events to advertise on the school site without the urging of the district office.

That single person would also have to be keen about picking up on information around the campus, things that are happening and news that can be spread. The simplest example of this I can think of right now is sporting event scores. We just had a wresting match. How did it turn out? Check the Web site.

Last year, I set up a way on the school’s site for the daily announcements to be displayed. They hardly ever were kept up to date last year and the same is true this year. Maybe that single person would be in charge of that task, as well (even though it’s so easily done by someone else, ideally a student).

Schools need to start paying attention to the function of their site. How many schools have a plan in place to address these issues I’ve raised here? How many schools have time to spare on these issues, when education is clearly the first, second, and third mandates of a school, with Web presence falling way, way, way down the list? But how many schools slap together a site because they feel like they have to or like they should, without taking into consideration the basics of why the site is there? Is a strong Web site even worth the time taken away from educating today’s youth? Is there a way to improve a Web site while not taking away from that time used to educate?

Using something like CampusGRID, as so many schools do, is a good idea for a lot of campuses, but if it doesn’t provide the user with information that s/he wants, then paying to use CampusGRID is a complete waste of money, a waste of $300 per year. Better to simply not be on the Web than to have information that’s out of date or useless and lose $300 in the process. Can commercial designers develop school Web sites? Or does it take someone inside the school to design it and, at the very least, maintain it?

Comments are closed.