Beyond Classroom Tech Tips…

February 1, 2009

Drupal

Filed under: School Web Sites — Donna DesRoches @ 7:29 pm
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Over the past year several schools in our division have participated in a Drupal School Web Site Project. This project started slowly as a way for schools did not have someone with the necessary skills to set up and maintain a web site created in a web-authoring program such as DreamWeaver. Some of the sites in our division had become very dated. School web sites can be difficult to update and very time-consuming to maintain.

Once other schools saw the sites and the ease with which every teacher could add information and maintain their own page they also began requesting a site.

I cannot say that the process has been an easy one for me. Even though I did not have to go through the process of installing Drupal on the Division’s web server I had to learn how to determine which modules we needed and how to configure the application for each school’s site. I learned how to use Drupal by creating, Teaching for Information Literacy, the project for my Masters Program. There were a few late night tears involved in the process! Over time however, I have learned many things and it has become much easier to configure a new site for a school

Lawrence SchoolI know that teachers, including the in-school instructional technology support (iSITS) teachers are very busy therefore I set up the site so that the minute it is released to teachers they can begin to add content.

The schools send me:

  • Colours, logo, motto, staff lists and menu items

I then ensure that:

  • Modules are enabled and configured
  • Users added
  • Roles and permissions established
  • Basic look established (Theme, colours, motto, school picture and contact info)
  • Menu items added
  • One page of content is created under each user’s login

Once schools started using their site I was soon challenged to learn more – how do I add audio? Upload a video of a tour of my school? Embed a YouTube video? Add a calendar? Some of these things have been a bit challenging to learn and I am extremely grateful for the support that I have had from our technical department. One individual had been assigned to support this project and he so willing to learn and to show and explain things to me that I believe we have made great strides in this service to our schools.

This fall I held a series of regional workshops for the iSITS teachers, school secretaries and other interested staff members. I showed them all the things that I do in the initial configuration and now they have begun to experiment and add the touches that make the website their own.

Mrs. Nichol's Math Pages

The most rewarding part of this project has been watching teachers begin to use the site as a communication tool with students and parents. In one school the administrator has asked that all his teachers place their course outlines online. First they begin to add text – homework lists, etc – then they begin to add links, new pages, graphics, photos and YouTube videos.

The Drupal project continues to expand. Our Art Education Consultant has used Drupal to create her Arts Alive Web Site and one of our counselors has created the Youth Network as a way to communicate with the students he sees.

I know that I have a great deal more to learn about Drupal but the positive response from teachers, students, and parents spur me to keep on learning and sharing. Hmmm – maybe it is time to move Learning and Technology from wikispaces to a school division hosted site.

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