School Websites – The Master Plan

I have been thinking about where I think our district needs to go in terms of an overall platform for web communications.  Let’s start with the district website, followed by school publishing, and finish this up with teacher and student publishing.  We are in need of a better explaination for both internal and external communication about what options staff members have to publish information to the web.

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Big Changes Coming to School Websites

We have been plugging away with school websites using Adobe Contribute and Contribute Publishing Server to handle all the school websites for our district.  This is a big headache considering all the administrative tasks in managing users etc, plus the training that needs to occur for using Contribute.

We are seriously looking at moving all school websites over to a very slick and powerful wiki product called Deki Wiki by MindTouch.  It is very powerful and looks 100% better than your average wiki because of the built in themes and ability to make themes.  I could go on and on about the features, but they are best explained on their website

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ScribeFire Working Again

A big plus for teachers using our iBlog WordPress MU software is that they can now use a firefox plugin that will allow them to blog without ever going into their blog via ScribeFire.  Previously, when we tried this, it didn’t work because we used ldap for authentication.  Well, when I did the upgrade scribefire … Read more

A blog for every student

With our new Community (Mahara.org) software, we now have the capability to give every student not just one blog, but an unlimited number of blogs.  This puts a certain level of responsibility on the students which they may or may not be ready for.  Many have a myspace mentality and we will need to educate … Read more

A Blog for Every Teacher

With WordPress Multi-User, we are able to allow every staff member in our district (2000+) a podcast ready blog within seconds of them logging into the blog system.  How does that work?  Well, we use a LDAP plugin which allows the teachers to use their district ID to instantly be verified and given a blog … Read more

Web 2.0 Style WordPress MU Theme

Well, I just finished work on updating our pathetic template that powered the main page of our teacher blogging website.  This was my first run at creating a wordpress MU theme and I based it off of one I had downloaded several years ago.  I added the option for 4 sidebars at the bottom as … Read more

HOLY COW!

Man oh Man.  I just upgraded our iBlog WordPress MU website from version 1.5 to the latest version and what a task!!!  We had missed 2-4 steps along the way and I had to go step by step to ensure a good upgrade.  I just finished working on several issues with the text editor as … Read more

New Themes for Blogs

I just updated WordPress MU and as a treat to the over 500 teachers blogging, I added about 20 new themes.  Teachers can now choose from over 80 different themes 95 different themes for their classroom websites.

Web 2.0 for Schools Concerned About Safety and Content

I have been working very diligently the past few years working to create a safe and secure Web 2.0 experience for our students and staff.  Much of this revolves around open source software that we run in-house to provide the tools commonly used in social Web 2.0 websites such as Blogger, MySpace, YouTube, del.icio.us, etc.  Why not just use what is commercially available?  Unfortunately these sites are open to anyone and the content is often questionable for education at best.  These sites represent how students are often communicating and exchanging ideas and allowing students to use such tools in a learning environment would be of great benefit.

We would love to work with other districts in sharing a closed educational network, but that would require some doing at this point and may even be impossible at the RESA/ISD level to do it efficiently and with as little setup for the teacher as we currently operate.  For instance in our system, any teacher at any time can create a blog or Moodle Online classroom at anytime with no authorization from any tech person.  This puts the control and power to use the tools in the hands of teachers and takes away the middle man (Me).

So as of today, what tools are we using?

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