Web Design Made Easier: From the Elementary Classroom to the White House

I say easier because, no matter how easy the process of web creation can be made, the creation of an effective, attractive, user-friendly design that meets a high standard of functionality will always take time.

As an ICT Specialist in a school just getting started I am in the enviable position of getting to help plan and execute an expanding array of new initiatives including the creation of a new school website. Of course, being a strong believer in collaborative learning, I see every chance for me to continue learning as a chance to get my students involved.

Enter Weebly. This Flash based web design platform really evens the playing field. Hey you! Technogeek. Stop rolling your eyes. Yes, learning code is a noble achievement. In the meantime, the rest of us with more immediate needs want to play too.

Weebly offers us the chance to become published web designers today. And it’s free service to boot. Now, I would strongly suggest the Pro account. It is cheap and allows for a great deal more of the functionality I refer to above. You can add YouTube videos with just the share url and a few clicks. It is fun, easy and a powerhouse of collaboration inspiration. Get them started and watch your students learn together, teach each other and continue to bond as they explore and create.

Now, in my case, I have made and adapted a number of sites. Some brand new and some tweaked from previous work for use at my new school. I will not use Weebly as a platform for our new school website as it lacks database capacity and according to their service staff, “This is not likely to change in the near future.” So, based on feedback from colleagues at Tech Director, we will go with Drupal. If it is good enough for the White House, many branches and ofices of the Canadian Government & MIT it should be good enough to address our needs as well, more modest as they are.

Students in a Classroom at Leakey, Texas, near San Antonio 05/1973
http://www.flickr.com/ photos/usnationalarchives/3703573629/

Back to the Students
So yes, the students. As we are an IB World School we focus on developing internationally-minded individuals. This is aided by our focus on the attributes of the Learner Profile. It is not always easy to make this exciting. It struck me, however, that it could be made more interesting at the very least and definitely more engaging and cross-school if it were made into a website where students of all ages could share their reflections and support one another in learning how to create and publish them in new and interesting ways. Introducing The Learner Profile @DISK. A place where students share reflections in words, pictures, video form. We just got started September 7, 2012 with a few, mainly text reflections but the excitement in the room was palpable as students publish content to their own website, just in a regular class!

Image source

This is where transformation can enter the picture as well. Students now have the opportunity to not only share in this new and exciting manner but start doing new things in new ways. We are going to have CAS students act as mentors for the school by helping other students upload content to the site and help them reinforce skills learned in class.

Back to the Website & School Promotion
I have lamented not being able to use Weebly as a platform for the whole school website. I could be finished so much sooner and no one would ever need to now the low-brow end of the tech pool from which I operate. Other than the database issue I have not been able to find anyone who could explain why not to use it for this purpose.

In the meantime, I have created a variety of sites I would like to share with you now:

All Weebly. All proud. For a reasonable fee you can purchase a domain name and have the weekly descriptor removed from your URL as I have for my personal digital-age learning site, giveitaway.net. These school sites are all linked to one another for optimal potential viewing. If you find us somewhere we want you to see us everywhere!

I informally shared these at a meet-and-greet with parents at the start of the year. Everyone was very supportive and happy to finally have some examples of student work, life & activity online. I encouraged everyone to share the links to gain some greater exposure and share what we are doing.

I have, of course, added a Facebook page for the school as well. Feel free to stop by and like us some time.

Special thanks to Brendan Lea for introducing me to this incredible service.

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About Sean Thompson

Sean has accepted a position as the Director of Technology at The Early Learning Centre, City School, in Bangkok. He is excited to be working with Giovanni Piazza and the rest of the staff to raise awareness of digital-age teaching and learning practice in this Reggio Emilia inspired environment. Sean is also an Apple Distinguished Educator, an International Baccalaureate Educator Network Workshop Leader and a Google Educator available for professional development at your school.
This entry was posted in Collaboration, Digital Learning, New Media, Producing, Publishing, Sharing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Web Design Made Easier: From the Elementary Classroom to the White House

  1. 81jpayne says:

    Hi there Sean

    I really like the idea of having a place where you can share media of students ‘being’ the IB Learner Profile. Cool idea. At Saint Maur, we’ve developed the Saint Maur Essential Outcomes (SMEOs) which are very similar to the IB Learner Profile. I’m thinking I could get a similar project up and going. Hmmm… I’m going to have to give it some thought. One of the problems, I’m guessing, is how does one house a variety of digital media in a single location? A blog? Weebly?

    Anyway, thanks for the idea!

    Jamie P

  2. frinkmama says:

    Reblogged this on frinkmama and commented:
    Worth a reblog…

    • Sean says:

      Well thank you. Always good to be noticed by a fellow sharer! I took the liberty of RT’ing your Twitter post.
      See you around the (online) campfire
      Sean Thompson

  3. Great job Sean! It’s great to see how you’ve taken your new job by storm! Your school will soon have a web presence that rivals any other longstanding school 🙂

    • Sean says:

      Thanks Kim. I owe much of the career redirect I am so happy with to you and your course. If you ever need someone to rave about it I’m your guy.

  4. Hi Sean,

    Thanks for this introduction to what you are up to in your new place. It’s great to see what you’re up to and what you are inspired about. You said, “I have lamented not being able to use Weebly as a platform for the whole school website.” Looking at their site I couldn’t figure out a reason why not either. The key would be identifying what features you need/want and what it would take to keep those updated. In my past life I was the webmaster for awhile at school and from that experience of maintaining our own site to what we have now, life is much better with the full content management system that integrates the news feeds and calendar. Interestingly we’ve moved away from hosting much, if any, individual class information on the school site and have that as whole separate entity with edublogs. I’d think you should be able to develop an appearance you like and with some skillfull RSS work you could have information streaming into your Weebly school webpage with a functional embedded calendar. What’s are the sticking points you’re up against?

    • Sean says:

      Hey Adam,

      I appreciate your thoughts. I’ve used weebly for what I’ve done thus far as it is dead easy and quick. As you noted, we needed a better web presence fast.

      We will need database functionality as well, however, so that’s that. I am excited about going further than weebly or Google sites though. I am on to Drupal Gardens at the moment. Any thoughts?

      “See” you Saturday! Sean over

      > Date: Thu, 29 Nov 2012 08:25:51 +0000 > To: seansensei@hotmail.com >

  5. waras says:

    Hi sean

    Making a website can be done Anywhere anytime. The most important web design jakarta existed before the content is determined in advance that would affect all sections.

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