Monday, May 17, 2010

If You Build It....

Our district is currently changing website providers from Schoolcenter to Schoolwires. No small feat for a district our size. So much of my time lately has been spent in these efforts at schools and online providing help for teachers to move content and create with the new Schoolwires site.

In some of these work sessions, I've heard teachers voice what is a common concern at some of our schools.

"Why do I need to create a webpage? My students don't have Internet at home, and parents don't check it."

I've heard this response before when talking about blogs, wikis, voicethread, animoto, or almost any web2.0 tool. And when answering I try to channel my best voice from Field of Dreams.

"If you build it they will come."

It is true some of our communities do not have widespread Internet access, but I suspect if they feel the teachers are providing important information and showcasing their child's classroom many in fact will come and find a way to check the site. I've found students also find ways to get online and check classroom sites if they have a reason, especially if they think they'll see some of their own work. Indeed some of the best blogs and websites in our district belong to teachers whose students and class parents may or may not be able to get to it at home. But those teachers' sites look great, and I suspect people find ways to get to the sites.

And although it wasn't in Field of Dreams, I can almost guarantee that if you don't build it they will not come.


Suzanne Whitlow said...

I totally agree. I see dozens of people daily at the public library just to check their student's grades. My district has a 1:1 for middle and high school, and I see kids sitting outside in the parking lots using the Wi-Fi from the school system. We built it and they came.

Barbara said...

Website are a useful tool for communication with not just parents, but grandparents and a larger educational community. I post helpful ideas on my page and parents of students in other classrooms and schools have used them. It is also a great way for relatives that don't live close by to feel a part of the child's lives and keeps them updated! Not to mention divorced parents who may not live in the same town. If we don't build it, someone else will! I am willing to spend hours at home on my page if it inspires or helps just one other person!

Emory said...

Great points about the ability to reach out to larger audience.
Thank you for the comments and affirmation.

Patrick Higgins said...

Excellent point. What we often fail to realize is that our students are out there, searching, creating, looking, socializing and connecting. By saying to them, "hey, here's our stuff too. Look at it if you want to," you are inviting them into a conversation about learning that is happening on their terms. Websites are just the tip of that iceberg.

On a side note, we just migrated from schoolwires to an open source provider last year. The package is great, but we don't have a full-time developer, so the look is not refined yet. However, our teachers were happy to be done with schoolwires.