Daily Archives: November 12, 2005

Back in 2003, I was part of a PLICT research grant that looked at the relevancy of South Australian School websites to their students. I've always been keen on learning about website design right from using Netscape Composer back in '97 to the various incarnations of FrontPage to the 30 hour DreamWeaver 2004 course I did last year at Thebarton Senior College. I even got our current version of the school website up and running during the April school holidays this year. But there's always been something missing from the very read-only world of most school websites here in South Australia.
At first, I theorised that it was student perspective that was the missing ingredient. That was the basis of the Research Grant where my friend and colleague, Lindsay and I endeavoured to use each others' classes to generate content to fulfil the intentions of the grant application. Well, we weren't the only ones but the research component took a back seat to the project component. So, our final report back to the other Research groups tended to outline timelines, show completed webpages and describe process. And finally, someone asked the question to which we had no answer, "How will you keep your web pages up to date?"
Well, those webpages still need to be updated after two years but now the technology exists to answer that question. A blog powered school website is that answer. I still need to do more research but what Tim Lauer's school Lewis Elementary in Portland, USA does on there on their website is absolutely spot on. Nothing is static, its blog based interface is constantly updated, it has Flickr feeds providing the images, everything is archived for reference. The step that needs to be taken by the vast majority of South Australian schools is a change from the one way, static information site where information dates very easily and one person is resonsible for puttng all together to the read/write variety where all school members can be contributors right from the principal down to the begining reception students. Now that would make it a school website worth checking regularly, and with an rss feed, techno savvy parents can have all of the school's latest stuff "pushed" to them. And those student websites created in late '03 could finally take on some life and meaning.