This Website Stinks.

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Not this website.  It doesn’t stink (I hope).

It has a cartoon family and Buddy Cam

I’m talking about school websites.

Some of them stink.

Not all of them are bad.Update It Already!!!

Just the ones that aren’t good.  And there are plenty.

If you don’t believe me Google your local school and see for yourself (you will know in the first 1.5 seconds).

One of an administrator’s primary jobs is to keep the school grounds looking neat and tidy.

Make sure the grass is cut.  Get the trash picked up (all the great administrators pick up trash when walking around).  And remove snow in a timely manner.

The front yard of any school is the first thing people notice when they drive by or visit.

A neat looking school means kids are probably getting a good education.

People expect their school to look good.  They want to be proud of the facilities.  They want to be assured their tax dollars are not being wasted.

What has changed is school grounds are no longer the only gateway to a district.

There’s also the school website.

School websites fall into two categories.  Either award-winning or they haven’t been updated since 1982.

The interweb is here to stay people, it’s time to stop thinking about school websites as frivolous.

They aren’t something the Tech Person can update when they have time (and a good Tech Person never has time).

They aren’t something the 8th graders can work on in study hall.

The school website is a district’s biggest marketing tool.

When families are shopping for a new school, their first stop is the website.

Schools wouldn’t use tacky stationary or put on a half-hearted graduation ceremony.

They certainly wouldn’t let the grass go uncut for 18 months.

So why do they let students, parents, alumni, and total strangers access their sad and tired website?

We have to do better.

The parents of a 2nd grader has no concept of a world wide webless existence.  They expect a school website to be updated more than once a year.

They want to email their child’s teacher.  And they want to find the email address on the school website.

They also want pictures, the latest school news, announcements, schedules, and everything else associated with the school.

It’s time people.

It’s 2010.

Let’s get out there and make school websites better for kids.

I also think every teacher should have their own website, but that’s a rant for another day… and blog.

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24 Responses to “This Website Stinks.”


  1. Bill
    on Oct 6th, 2010
    @ 7:59 am

    Michael,

    I am with you 100%. There is nothing worse than an outdated website, especially the principal’s page. I want to scream, and have on many occasions, when I see the welcome back to school message on the principal’s web page in March! I’d rather see nothing at all instead of severely outdated content.

    In my previous position as a middle school principal, I made it very clear that teacher web page content would be updated weekly with homework assignments and curriculum information. It was a bit of a struggle, but they did it. The reaction from the community was outstanding and it went such a long way toward improving communication and partnerships with home and school.

    I shared with my elementary faculty at our last meeting my desire that every teacher have a working up to date web page by the end of the first semester. I know it is a little different than middle school, no first grade homework to be posted, however the goal is the same. Improve communication and let everyone know what we’re doing to help our kids become better learners every day. I’m sure I will receive some union resistance to this requirement, but I feel strongly about this and will continue to push for teachers to maintain a solid presence on the web.


  2. Tony Hiatt
    on Oct 6th, 2010
    @ 8:48 am

    We are pretty proud of our website. Check it out at http://www.newton.k12.in.us

    Michael Smith Reply:

    @Tony Hiatt, That’s a good website. You should be proud.

    Maybe we should have “The Best School Website Contest”.

    As of right now, you’re the leader.


  3. Laura
    on Oct 7th, 2010
    @ 4:49 pm

    Tee hee… it’s like education’s version of webpagesthatsuck.com.

    Here in Philadelphia our website looks nice, but it’s tough to navigate. For example, we can access our students’ math texts on-line. I was trying to explain to a friend how to get to that page (because she had no clue that such a thing ever existed), and I had to spend a good 20 minutes.

    I would encourage teachers to include worthwhile and educative links on their sites, many parents don’t know about the great resources that are out there. I might even consider providing each student with a nickname and providing them with a customized list of links that would benefit them most (technology… it can be the mother of all differentiation).


  4. Warren Purdy
    on Oct 8th, 2010
    @ 3:16 pm

    You must have been visiting some UK schools. They are shockers!! What happens when either you involve do-gooder amateurs (easy to do – who has the time?) or throw a lot of money to some hack with no artistic bones (easy to do – who has the time?). Good topic M.

    Have an interview this week – been doing some homework. Wish me luck (as you wave me goodbye).


  5. Kelly
    on Oct 8th, 2010
    @ 7:21 pm

    Couldn’t agree more! About eight years ago at my last teaching job, our prinicipal mandated each teacher have a website. We were all like “What?!” But she had vision– part of what made her a great principal. (She was also super crazy about the school grounds looking immaculate too, BTW) She got the tech savvy folks to teach all the teachers how to put up websites (at the time using Front Page). Now I see it as such an incredibly useful tool for teachers, students, AND parents. I’m always surprised when I’m looking up schools to find such crappy websites!

    I actually just went to an interview (for a teaching position) and I asked about websites and homework calendars and the like. I was told, “A few teachers have them, but they are kind of frowned upon (by the union or other teachers) . Teachers are afraid it will encourage parents to start comparing teachers and complain. Hmmmm… bet you could get a few blog posts out of that one!


  6. Prof Post
    on Oct 12th, 2010
    @ 6:31 pm

    My education students in SPED 216 – Intro to Special Education – have just begun working at their required 50 hours of teacher aiding. This article makes me think that it would be a good idea to have them explore the website of the school at which they are aiding and provide a brief comment here as well. I’m also telling them that they will be student teaching sooner than they think and that checking websites might be a great way to look for future places of employment (or schools they may wish to avoid – unless they have the energy to help make a change).


  7. Jennifer P
    on Oct 23rd, 2010
    @ 1:32 pm

    I’m going on my 2nd yr in the pro-photography industry and I’m discovering new things all the time, including this post – thank you so much for this blog. Jenn


  8. Curtis Rowsey
    on Oct 26th, 2010
    @ 8:27 am

    I love your blog.


  9. Anita Anderson
    on Oct 26th, 2010
    @ 9:03 am

    I could not agree more with this blog. Right after I was placed at a school for teaching aiding, the first thing I did was go online to look at the school’s website. The website was ultimately the first impression I saw of the school I am now teacher aiding at. This school’s website provides a lot of important information for parents of students at the school, but it looks like no time of effort was put into making the website. Many links do not work and some font on the page is hard for me to read. After teacher aiding at this school, I have found it to be a very nice school, but their website does not sell that idea at all. Since “the website is the biggest marketing tool” this school and all other schools really need to make sure their websites fully work, are updated, and are helpful. False impressions will hurt schools reputation and may cause them to lose future students.
    Thank you!
    - Anita Anderson
    Student at Trinity Christian College
    Majoring in Education


  10. Hannah Schaap
    on Oct 26th, 2010
    @ 11:25 am

    I would have to say that during these times, it is just as important for schools to have a good, quality website as for them to make sure the snow is shoveled and grass cut. Today everything is done online, from bill paying, to shopping, to doing research about pretty much anything one could think of – including schools. The school I am teacher aiding at has a website, but the first thing I thought when I looked at it was, “Has this thing ever been updated?” The links and information are all very good and valuable, but it looks like something that has not changed since the beginning of the internet’s existence. The website is the first impression that many parents and even students will have about the school. This is something that the schools need to look more into because of our day and age.
    Thank you!
    Hannah Schaap
    Student at Trinity Christian College


  11. Hannah Sprague
    on Oct 26th, 2010
    @ 5:52 pm

    I strongly agree with this blog. I never thought that a school website was that important, but now that I am involved in a school myself I found myself looking at the schools website to get a first impression. Even before I went to aid there I scanned the website and got some contact information from the website.

    I would agree that the upkeep and the outward appearance of the school is the first impression when you go to visit, but when you are looking for a school our generation tends uses the handy internet as a resource. I do not think there is any reason for a poor website. Obviously a school websites should be updated more than once a year, I would argue the website should be revised and updated weekly if not in some cases daily. There could even be someone in the school administration who is computer savvy and would love to help out and update the school website. The schools website can be used for parents as well as people looking to come to the school. My schools website draws the viewers in with a short youtube video about their school and a quick summary of what the school looks like. This was helpful before my visit. Along with a video they have upcoming events on the homepage. The website is very easy to accessed and contains pictures, facts, contact information and much more. I think that is what a good website should include.

    It never truly dawned on me how much a schools website influences potential families who might be looking into that particular school. The website can be the first impression a family gets about the school. That can be a scary thought for some schools. What a great reminder for schools!

    Thank you,
    Hannah Sprague
    Sophomore at Trinity Christian College


  12. Kyle Mastey
    on Oct 26th, 2010
    @ 6:32 pm

    I had never realized how important a school’s website until I read your blog. If I was planning on having my child attend a certain school, the first place I would have looked would be the internet. It is the most convenient way to find schools around your area. With this point of view, you could really see the impact of a school’s website on a parent’s choice whether or not to send their child there.

    In today’s society, information is being relayed through the internet at a rapidly increasing pace. Many parents or students first look on the internet to find the information they are looking for due to the convenience.

    I agree that having an up-to-date website is important for any school. A website is the first resource that a student or parent will use to find information about that particular school. It would only make sense to have a website that is well thought out, updated, and easy to navigate through because in many instances it can form a person’s first impression of the school.

    This blog was an eye-opener for me, and maybe it will do the same for others as well.
    Thank you,
    Kyle Mastey
    Junior at Trinity Christian College


  13. Kristin Ipema
    on Oct 26th, 2010
    @ 7:55 pm

    You bring up some very valid points in this blog. A school website is very important to the reputation of a school. The website is a place where students, parents, and any perspective students come to find out information about a school and I think it is very important to have a website that is organized and updated in order to keep their school members informed. Also the website can also have a big impression of what people think of the school. People will realize that the staff of a particular school are really invested at displaying appropriate information to their students, but is also welcoming to other students and parents by the way they display themselves online. The internet is so important these days and for perspective students of a school that is looking around for the right school may just visit the websites of other schools prior to physically attending the school and they could be turned off if your website is completely outdated and unkept.

    Luckily, the school that I am aiding at has a very good website that is updated all the time. It was very helpful for me to check out the website before I even met with my teacher. I was able to see all the schools information, also I was able to go on the teacher’s page that I was assigned to and I could see their class schedule, pictures of the students in her class, as well as how to contact her and this was very helpful for me.

    This blog really helped me realize the true importance that a website can have on parents, students, and perspective lookers. Hopefully, schools with start to realize this and update their sites.
    Thank you,
    Kristin Ipema
    Student at Trinity Christian College


  14. Kristin Ipema
    on Oct 26th, 2010
    @ 8:14 pm

    You bring up a lot of valid points in this blog. School websites are very important and should be very informational to the students and parents of the children that attend that school as well as provide helpful information for perspective students that are looking at the school. I think it is very true that a school’s website can have a substation impact of the schools reputation. People will be able to see that their staff members are really involved and want their own school members to have access to important information about the school, as well as to allow the parents and students to contact teachers, or know when events are going on at their school. For perspective students it is also has a big impact. Especially because the internet is used to much today, many students and parents that are looking for new school’s probably do some researching online of schools prior to actually making a visit, and if they come to a school website that if outdated and unkept it can keep them for receiving the information that they are looking for as well as maybe give them a negative outlook on the schools first impression.

    Luckily, the school that i am teacher aiding at has a very updated and organized website. It was very helpful for me to check out this website prior to even going to the school because I was able to see basic information about the school as well as going on the page of the teacher I was assigned to and seeing their class schedule, pictures of the current students in her class, and ways to contact her. I was very impressed with this.

    I hope that more schools start to realize that keeping their websites updated and organized is very important.
    Thanks for sharing this blog.
    Kristin Ipema
    Student at Trinity Christian College


  15. Meghan D
    on Oct 27th, 2010
    @ 1:06 pm

    I would have to agree with everyone else on this, schools wedsites are very important. Working on a computer is what everyone does these days. So you know the first thing a parent will do if they are thinking about sending their children to that particuler school, they are going to go on that schools website. In my personal opinion I believe that if a schools website is not up to date or organized then that should tell me alot about the school. It would show me that the school is not very organized or is not focusing on a huge marketing tool. I have never really checked out school website besides the schools I did attend. But now starting aiding, I would say when I found out the school I was attending, going on the website was the first thing I did. I thought the wedsite was very nice and told me alot about the school. Seeing this website made me very excited to start my teaching expierce. I have learned alot from reading this blog, that honestly I never really thought of. Now knowing about this topic, it has taught me to be organized and up to date with everything and anything that you have online. Thanks- Meghan Trinity Christian College


  16. Matt Nagelkirk
    on Oct 27th, 2010
    @ 7:34 pm

    Love the article. I completely agree.
    People these days are so much about appearance that having an updated school website is curcial to attracticing people to your school. Sure, they can drive by and think, “Wow that’s a great looking school, I want to go online and find out more.” So, they go home and go online and see that the website hasn’t been update in 20 years. They want to find a working phone number to call and get information and can’t find it, then what? Chances are that parent won’t send their kid their.
    Parent’s want to see how their students are doing in school and if they ever need to contact their teacher or look at their kid’s grades online is a perfect place to go. But if the school never updates their website it’ll create problems. The internet is where everyone goes now for information if they are having trouble with something.


  17. Austin Warner
    on Oct 27th, 2010
    @ 8:36 pm

    I would also be in agreement saying how important it is for a school district to have a website that looks professional and that is updated regularly. The internet is a very large andcheap (sometimes free) marketing tool, especially for parents looking for a new area to live in. For many parents, having their children receive a good education is very important to them and having an unprofessional website that has not been updated in years is definately not a good first impression. After looking at various school distrcits around my area, I noticed that there are many of these websites that need room for improvement and I hope that these school administrators will realize how important it is to have a website that looks professional and that is “shows off” what their school district has to offer.


  18. Stefanie Geer
    on Oct 27th, 2010
    @ 8:57 pm

    I completely agree with you! It kind of seems like it gives you an inside look as to how the school is developing with the new times, and sometimes it is scary waht you find. Even at my high school we had a horrible website. Nothing was ever updated so me and my parents were clueless about things that were happening at school. Time and time again, you see the same website that hasn’t been updated for a long time. I completely understand where you are coming from.
    However, there is hope. =) The school that I am currently aiding at, Navajo Elementary School in Palos Heights, actually has a vey good website! Parents have even talked to me about it a few times and said how convenient it is. They have all of the teachers emails on there along with the current news of the school; including acitivies and even community news. So keep hope that there will be someone going around and fixing these school websites so that they are this easily accessible for everyone in every district!

    Thank you,
    Stefanie


  19. Frank Kovach
    on Oct 27th, 2010
    @ 9:55 pm

    I have to say that I love this article. It reminds me of when I used to be in high school looking into what colleges I wanted to attend. Most colleges I would stop looking at based on if their website was easy to navigate through and it was creative. In my spare time (which isn’t too often) I love to check out the website to my own high school and grade schools. I keep in contact with the principal at my junior high school and I let her know what should be changed or what should be added to the schools website to help make it more easy to access and find information on. I also do the same thing with the head football coach of my high school so he keeps everything updated because I love seeing updated rosters,schedules,stats, etc. Lack of an updated website really kills credibility of the school. I really enjoyed reading this article and having the privilege to put my own opinion on here. Thanks for posting this!
    Frank Kovach- Trinity Christian College, PE major


  20. Courtney Rozeveld
    on Oct 27th, 2010
    @ 10:07 pm

    Your blog brings up a very important point. The website is the place that many people go to to find information now days. Kids leave the lunch menu at school and need to know what lunch is that day so those kinds of things need to be posted online. A calendar of events being online is also important so that people in the community know what is going on as well. A sports schedule is very helpful for those in the community who do not have students at the school but wish to attend school functions. The website of the school I’m teacher aiding at is very well put together with a school calender, lunch menu, sports information, district information, a current letter from the principle of the school, the stats from the previous year and more. Not only is there stuff that pertains to the community but there is a link to Edline (which from the letter from the principle I know that is not quite up and running but will be as soon as possible). As a student who has used Edline in the past, using the website really helps students and teachers as well as parents to keep track of how the student is doing in school and to give and receive feedback. The school seems to be very current with the technology of the day. Their home page is appealing and reveals information about their school that is relevant and current.

    Amen to your comment about tech people waiting until they have time to update information. As someone who is very interested in viewing information online, it frustrates me when there is a lasting problem on a website because of someone’s lack of time to fix the problem. The website is something that a school should almost hire a person to specifically maintain.

    Thank you very much for your thoughts!

    Courtney Rozeveld
    Sophomore Math Ed Major
    Trinity Christian College


  21. Kevin Barron
    on Oct 28th, 2010
    @ 11:33 am

    In an increasingly busy world, finding time to call parents and keep them in the loop on their child’s education isn’t always that easy. Since a lot of teachers use their school emails [that is usually teacher@school.edu] parents can easily figure out that school’s link and stay informed in what is going on with the building, not just the classroom. Sports and music boosters, school events, news and bulletins are all readily available on websites. Having a welcoming site that motivates parents to take an interest in their child’s school is significant to reinforce what is taking place the building that helps keep everyone connected.


  22. Kristen
    on Nov 10th, 2010
    @ 3:04 pm

    School websites are definitely more important now than they ever have been. Everything these days seems to be like it revolves around technology, so it would make sense that each school should have their own website. If these schools have outdated websites, however, it won’t be benefitting them at all. Before I started aiding last year for my school, I went to their website because I wanted to see their academic calendar. I wanted to know what days they didn’t have school so I could plan my aiding hours accordingly. When I got to the website, however, I found that the calendar was from 2 years ago and hadn’t been updated since. Many things on that website needed a good update, and I was surprised that the school hadn’t done anything about it. If I was a parent, I would have been a little frustrated that the information I was looking for wasn’t there. I would expect that the school would take the time to update the site at least once a year, hopefully more. To some people, the school’s website is a clear indicator if the students are receiving a good education or not, so school should make the effort to keep it looking nice.


  23. Victoria B
    on Nov 16th, 2010
    @ 6:50 pm

    I totally agree! Now that the web is becoming more a part of people’s daily lives, why wouldn’t they research a school’s website before going to visit the school? It just makes sense to make your school website look as good as possible to get people to want to come visit the school. How do school’s expect parents to know whats going on at school or to find ways to contact staff. It just seems kind of dumb that the school’s website would be so far outdated in an electronically based society. It really shouldn’t be very hard to keep the site up to date with almost everyone having knowledge dealing with computers.

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While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.