Setting Up A School Website: Issues In School Website Management

The following topics are open for discussion in maintaining a website for a school:

  • The Acceptable Use Policy (AUP): A written guide agreed to by teachers, students and parents that governs how the Internet and WWW are to be used by the school and its community. Each school or district should have one in place.

  • Maintenance: It is up to the school's webmaster to manage the content of the web site. Many schools have students who act as "sysops" (systems operators) with server priviledges. These issues must be settled by your building administators and central office staff. Often, the webmaster is in his or her position out of volunteerism but still lacks the additional time that teachers need to do the job well. They must determine what tasks can be delegated to students and which can not. The distribution of passwords and "world-writable" access to the web server must also be considered.

  • Webmaster as editor: What should or should not be posted? Are Freedom of Speech and academic freedom issues involved?

    Experience leads me to recommend to err on the side of caution. When teachers are designing student projects, they need to make clear that students who do not produce acceptable if not excellent material will not have their material posted to the web. Int ernet publishing must be held out to the students as a reward for successful achievement just as it is in the world of print publishing. On the other hand, students who may not achieve at the highest levels of performance should still have an opportunity to share their work if their fullest effort was put into it. It is this very process that proponents of the "connected classroom" support when they claim that student publishing on the Internet raises the level of student performance and achievement.

  • Copyright: What is freeware, public domain, shareware, intellectual property rights are still unclear in this area. A search on the web on this topic will bring up a myriad of links mostly written in legalese, which is not very helpful for the average educator. The most helpful on-line guide to copyright and fair use that I have found is in use by Stanford University, but each school district will eventually design its own policies on what can and cannot be used on a school web site. Discuss these issues with building principals and central office supervisors.

    One main consideration when discussing this issue with students is: what do you want to communicate to your students? I want to stimulate creativity and originality in my students. While the Web contains many visual resources, the school web site will app ear all the more compelling if the students can create their own original images. When another image from elsewhere on the web is appropriate, students must obtain written permission from the image's creator and post the source of the image on their own pages.

  • Writing HTML for the Lowest Common Denominator: Just because Netscape is the dominant browser, should we write HTML for Netscape and Netscape alone?
  • Bringing the whole faculty and student body on-line and when to back off.

    These topics will have to be expanded as time progresses. Please send us your thoughts and comments by e-mailing the webmaster at

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    George Cassutto's Cyberlearning World

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