Bill MacKenty

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Outsourcing a school website

Posted in Educational Tech Design Leadership News on 30 - December 2009 at 05:09 PM (14 years ago). 275 views.

I’ve written about this before, but again I am confronted with a dilemma.

Our elementary school is in dire need of a new website - the current design is static, the information out of date, and no one “owns” the site.  When I think of “what makes a good website, I use this rubric.  Our current elementary school website meets none of these criteria. To be clear, our problem is both technical and organizational.

I could redesign the site and throw it into my favorite website publishing system.  In fact, I did this with the High School website, and it is working fairly well. But I won’t be here forever, and someone will have to take over.  Herein lay the point of this post:

If I buy a solution for my school, I get consistency and accountability but I lose flexibility and control.  If I have someone on my staff who is smart enough to write a beautiful website, I’m lucky…until they leave.

How to deal with this?

1. If I buy a solution, buy an open-source solution that can be extended, and data can be easily be extracted.
2. If we homebrew a solution, be clear about code ownership and write very clean and clear code.

I investigated a proposal from a well-known company to redesign and run our school website. It was about $30,000 for the whole deal, and it looks like top-drawer work. Is it worth it? I think so.  We have outsourced the following services for our school, and they are working extraordinarily well for us:

1. Our counseling department uses Naviance for everything counseling
2. Our athletic department uses oline sports for all games
3. Both schools use Net directories for bulk email communications
4. Our after school program uses Imperisoft for registration
5. We host our moodle using remote learner

All of these systems directly support our school and they work. Perhaps more importantly, we could not host these services ourselves (and do a good job). 

I hope to add school website services and google applications to this list soon.