The proliferation of school web sites is a sure sign that educators and students are growing ever-more sophisticated about the internet. But as kids and teachers take an increasing interest in developing and maintaining school web sites, your duty to provide support and control for those sites grows too.

In response to this phenomenon, the Scantron Corporation and Intranet Communications Corp. have developed an integrated approach to web-site administration designed specifically for schools. Scantron is noted in the K-12 field for its test-scoring machines and forms. But now the company is branching out to include internet-based products and services as well.

On July 15, Scantron will release two new offerings to help schools make the transition to an online environment: a web publishing software program called IntraSchool and a web hosting service for schools called HomeRooms.

IntraSchool

Designed for schools that already have established a presence on the world wide web, IntraSchool uses a series of web publishing templates to let teachers and administrators create and update web pages quickly and easily.

Because the templates run in a browser using platform-independent technology, they look exactly the same on a Macintosh or Windows system, Scantron says. With only one or two days of training, teachers familiar with basic Mac or Windows applications can publish web pages consisting of standard backgrounds, links, and local application content.

One important benefit of IntraSchool, the company explains, is that the product cuts down on the time and money needed to train educators in how to publish their own web pages using Hypertext Mark-Up (HTML) language. Another plus, says Scantron, is that IntraSchool allows teachers to post class information, internet links, and homework assignments on the web in a way that can be centrally controlled and administered.

Rick Nakano, director of information systems for the Garden Grove Unified School District in Orange County, Calif., says the added control is key. Garden Grove–one of 200 schools in California, Colorado, and Washington to use IntraSchool in a pilot program–employs more than 4,500 staff members and operates 65 schools.

Without IntraSchool, Nakano said, “a district of our size has little control over the web content that is published. IntraSchool enforces a consistent look and feel to our [district’s] web sites.”

Alan Trudell, Garden Grove’s public information specialist, is grateful for IntraSchool for another reason–it will help him comply with a new California state law requiringschools with web sites to publish their school accountability report cards online as of July 1.

“With the boilerplate web page designs available, you don’t have to have a high level of ability to be able to publish information online,” Trudell said. “IntraSchool makes it easy.”

HomeRooms

For schools with limited technical resources and web experience, Scantron also has created a web hosting service to relieve the schools from most of the tasks involved in establishing and maintaining a web site themselves.

HomeRooms’ services include securing a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) name and Internet Protocol (IP) address, establishing web server links to local and wide area network carriers, configuring and operating network and server equipment, and deploying web content.

Brighter Paths

IntraSchool and HomeRooms both will be available nationally from Scantron’s Brighter Paths unit. An IntraSchool software license for five schools carries a suggested retail price of $4,995. For HomeRooms, schools will pay a one-time setup charge plus monthly fees ranging from $60 to $160, depending on the number of schools and the duration of the agreement. Brighter Paths is Scantron’s recently established educational software unit.

Russell Hertzberg, vice president of marketing for Scantron, told eSchool News his firm’s move into online products for schools is a natural progression. The company’s experience in network servicing has laid the groundwork for an expansion into internet-based educational services, he said.

“We see our future in web hosting, internet assessment tools, and internet curriculum development,” said Hertzberg.

Scantron Corporation
http://www.scantron.com

Brighter Paths
http://www.brighterpaths.com

Intranet Communications Corp.
http://www.intranetcommunications.com

Garden Grove Unified School District
http://www.ggusd.k12.ca.us/schooldistrict