Saturday, November 21, 2009

In Print: G'wood Schools to get 'souped-up' website

Garwood's Public Schools currently has a website that could use some upgrading.

Garwood school board debuts its revamped website for the district

By Leslie Murray

November 21, 2009, 9:00AM

GARWOOD — In a move designed to increase student and staff accessibility in a user-friendly design, the Garwood Board of Education members got the first look at the district’s newly redesigned website.

Technology Coordinator Glenn Stott previewed the new district and school website for the Board of Education during a Nov. 17 meeting, including changes that will give the district a private network.

Giving a tour of the new district site, which will launch on Dec. 1, Stott said that on-line visitors will have full access to Garwood school information with the newly searchable page.

Featured are a sleek main page, which features photos from district events over time, and a merged calendar that will combine athletic events, student activities and district news into one larger page.

Stott said that in addition to being fully complaint with the Federal Rehabilitation Act, which requires websites to accommodate those with visual impairments, the new website will take the classroom environment to students at home. A large part of that effort comes from the private network and shareable drives that the new website will incorporate.

“The students have their own shared drive. If you (as a teacher) want to share something with the class, you can put it on the student shared drive and they can all access it,” Stott said of the benefits of the page.

Teachers and administrators will also have a shared drive and individual web pages on the site, allowing them to post everything from deadlines for long-term assignments to the worksheets for homework in a central location.

“The teachers will administer the sites themselves. I will help them with content,” Stott said the teacher sites currently being tested by a few staff members.

The site will also host a form page with digital copies of documents ranging from facility use applications to materials that pertain to the grant program run by the Garwood Education Foundation. Stott said that segments of the form page that would include new student registration and special services are still under construction.

The board members and Superintendent Teresa Quigley lauded the new website as an effective tool for students and staff to communicate better inside and outside of the school day.

Resident Bruce Paterson also praised the site, asking if the Garwood Schools could use the new platform to list student accomplishments in academic and athletic achievement. However, Stott said that because of state guidelines, the district must be careful in posting students’ information, especially photos, on the website. While parents can sign a release that allows student information and images to be released to newspapers and in newsletters, the internet has a more restrictive set of statues because of the access given to the general public.

“Anything we put on the Internet is viewed differently (by state regulations),” Stott explained.

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