16 June, 2007

School web publishing policies

As part of a recent assignment for a course I am taking this summer at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, I had to investigate an organization's web publishing policy and report on it in an online forum (Moodle) so my classmates and I could discuss and compare our findings. It was a great exercise, and I am still pondering some of the ideas that bubbled up. In fact, I may integrate this subject into the mini-prospectus I am writing for my upcoming thesis work.

In hopes of eliciting additional insights from folks near and far, I am now posting my response to the assignment here:

To begin with, I am VERY interested in understanding how centralized systems of authority (in this case, schools) are adapting (failing to adapt?) their policies and practices to accommodate the current explosion in web publishing opportunities – wikis, blogs, social networking and file sharing sites, all things "2.0," as well as traditional web pages.

I approached this assignment from the perspective of a classroom teacher in Knox County Schools, where I was employed as a high school language arts teacher up until 2005 when I took an extended leave. In some regards, I am inclined to think the KCS web publishing policy is restrictive; I hope to gain some clarity/perspective on this from folks who might read this blog and post a comment.

The KCS web publishing policies can be accessed in PDF in the lower-left margin on the
Web Services page at the district's web site. I sought further clarification about the policy from a KCS technology trainer. These are the steps a KCS teacher should follow to publish content on the web (parenthetical comments are my two cents thrown in):
  1. Read the School Board Policy on Web Pages and the Web Page Guidelines from the Procedures Handbook.
  2. Call the Public Affairs Office and let them know what you are doing. (This is not written into policy, but it is suggested on the Web Services home page.)
  3. Advise your building-level principal about what you are doing. Assuming your principal approves the project, you now become his or her “designated representative,” meaning you assume absolute responsibility for all files posted (unless, of course, the principal wants to review all posts prior to you uploading them to the server, which is highly unlikely).
  4. Learn to use Contribute, a sister product of Dreamweaver. (You can use any application you want to generate your HTML, but if you want KCS tech support, use Contribute. This is the preferred HTML editor for Knox schools; every school in the county has a site license. Contribute was chosen because it is inexpensive, has a number of security features, supports multiple users, and works across platforms.)
  5. If your project involves student-generated web page content, you must adhere to the board-mandated policy of prior review. To quote: “At no time will files be posted that are submitted directly by students.”
  6. If you are uploading student-generated content, you must have on file a signed KCS authorization to publish form from the student's parent/guardian. These can be downloaded and duplicated as needed from the district web site.
  7. (And here's where it gets sticky . . . . ) Upload all files to the school web server. Under no circumstances are files to be hosted on external servers, especially if these files contain student-generated materials. (All Knox schools have a network server with plenty of space to accommodate student and teacher web projects, but I suspect this policy has nothing to do with cost, space, or utility. I think it is a control issue.)

For more information about web site requirement and restrictions, tech support, and security procedures, read the complete Web Page Guidelines from the Knox County School Board.

So, compared to other systems around the state and nation, how does Knox County stack up?

1 comment:

Mr. H said...

I teach in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri and our policy is much more lenient. We do not allow the social networking sites (such as facebook and myspace), but each student in our district has their own school email. Teachers are allowed to have blogs and students post on them almost all the time. Most of the blogs are book blogs where studetns talk about what they are reading and we even had a blog with the author of a book the entire 8th grade was reading. All of our students know how to podcast and our goal for our building next year is to go 80% paperless. We are progressive to the point where we allow Ipods in the classrooms. All of our students and teachers sign user agreements and we will still have the occasional problem with email misuse, but not nearly as much as you would think. I am a special education teacher, so if you would like check out my blog below to see how I am using technology in my room.