Best of the Web (1998 Edition)

Once a year, the overly large school district I work for holds a half-day conference for all our web curators. Curator is the name given to the gatekeepers in our schools and central offices who are uniquely able to publish to the system’s web sites. "Sites" is plural since, essentially, every school publishes an independent site. Two hundred or so unique sites. It’s an interesting chaos.

Anyway, that’s where I spent my morning, presenting a couple of introductory sessions on using cascading style sheets. In only 45 minutes. In that short space the best I could do was give the people who showed up an overview of what’s possible and a short list of resources for learning on their own. But it was still fun.

The conference, however, also reminded me of just how antiquated our approach to web publishing is. This affair is sponsored by our district’s public relations office, also the people responsible for managing all our web sites. And that should tell you everything you need to know about the purpose of the district’s web presence.

From the view point of our district administrators, the internet is just another tool for selling the "message". That and helping real estate agents with their sales, of course. It’s not about helping teachers – and certainly not students – share their ideas with anyone outside the system.

That very limited purpose, combined with the fact that our huge web presence is still lovingly hand-crafted by hundreds of artisan makes me wonder: is this the way it works in other school systems? Maybe ours is the only district that hasn’t discovered that the web can be far more than a marketing tool.

web publishing, school web site