A school website is any website built, designed, and maintained by or for a school. Many school websites share certain characteristics, and some educators have developed guidelines to help schools create the best and most useful websites they can.
Possible functions of a school website include:
- Displaying student projects
- Providing information on homework and current class assignments
- Directing visitors to other resources on the web
- Providing a forum for teachers, administrators, students, and parents to exchange information such as news and calendars of events
- Introducing people who don't know much about the school (such as parent or students who are considering moving into the district, community members who don't have children, and teachers seeking employment) to its current events and general culture
- Showing that a school is excellent with regard to sciences and new media in comparison to competitive schools
- Providing a platform for internal school learning activities
- Displaying school curriculum and courses
- Providing staff and students with an entrance and front-end to documents and resources hosted locally
- Creating and showing in public a 'corporate identity'.
Creation and maintenance
There are various ways in which a school can approach the task of creating a website. Because they are educational institutions, the creation of portions of the website can be incorporated into the curriculum. Such innovation is gathering momentum in schools as educators become themselves more familiar with the technologies involved.
- CMS (or content management system) — Schools may purchase or create software to organize and display their information on the web. This software typically gives every administrator and teacher the ability to post on the school's site, using their own username and password. School sites of this kind tend to be the largest. However, since most webmasters of school websites are not specially trained for administrating a CMS, still about every second school website is maintained without using a CMS.
- a school website provides an excellent possibility for pupils to learn not only webdesign but also how to work in a group of peers.
- Webmaster — Some schools ask a faculty or staff member who is particularly technologically savvy, or who works in their computer science department, to design and update their websites for them. While some technology coordinators do an excellent job of this, maintaining a school website is generally thought of as a rather large task for just one person. The problem with the maintenance is that maintaining a school website takes at least several hours a week but in most cases staff members are only paid for one or two hours.
Obstacles and Potential
School web sites, especially in the public sector, are generally under-developed. Lack of expertise among non-teaching staff has been a contributing factor, and many institutions have not acted to make their web presence a priority; these schools perceive themselves as 'stretched' with respect to budgets and time. Requisite skills are sometimes available in the teaching staff, but the investment of their time is not adequately compensated, as stated above.
This general lack of commitment by schools to the internet reflects a limited perception of its capacity to provide educational outcomes for the school community. The 'school website' is viewed as a public face for the school - a more sophisticated newsletter or advertisement. In that regard it is not prioritized. There is now burgeoning interest in the tangible learning benefits a website can generate for a school, and the capacity a website affords for the streamlining of information access within and between faculties, schools and educational departments. Traditionally isolated teachers/faculties are able to network ideas and resources in ways that afford real professional development.
A school website is a communication tool between the school and community; however, its reach can extend beyond country, state lines. A school website may be used by many demographic groups such as staff/administration, parents, students, community, and potential, as well as, former students and alumni. Even across state lines a school website can connect groups of its demographics such as the alumni now living cross country looking for information on the next reunion.
E-safety and Pupils
E-safety should be addressed in the classroom, both directly within computing lessons and when it comes up using information technology in other subjects. Try to reinforce safe online behaviour on an ongoing basis. The ubiquity of information technology means that messages about its use need to be frequent to have an impact.
All pupils are different. Attitudes at home towards e-safety will vary hugely within a class, as will the experiences of children among their peers. It’s therefore important to start by finding out what pupils know, what they do online, and what is allowed at home. This can be a useful place for starting a discussion about what happens online.
Wherever they’re starting from, children need to learn certain key skills. How to filter their own online activity so as to not give away personal information, filter out certain types of incoming messages, and report inappropriate or illegal behaviour are vital skills for children going online. Recognising and responding to inappropriate behaviour is about more than inappropriate approaches from adults. Social media and online gaming, while potentially incredible outlets for creativity and self-expression, also contain some subcultures mired in bullying and prejudice. Learning to deal with this safely is a valuable life skill.
- Carr, N. 2006 "New rubric offers first functional standards for school web sites" eSchool News
- McKenzie, J. 1997 "Why in the World Wide Web?" Technology and Learning (6:6)
- Bell, J. 2010 "Teachers and the Web: An educational revolution that's real.