wwwrrr has put together a free guide to getting a school internet community up and running. The guide, which is available on the company’s web site or by calling (877) 759-7959, includes key questions you should ask when choosing a vendor and planning a solution. Here are some of the highlights:

Questions to ask when determining a solution

1. Who needs to be involved in the process? Is a committee going to make the decision? If so, are all stakeholders represented on the committee? Is the district leadership going to make the decision? If so, how will they gather input from all stakeholders (surveys, focus groups, school meetings)?

2. Will you build the web pages in-house or use a ready-made system? If you build them in-house, do you have the resources in your district and in each school to create and maintain the web pages? Or would you prefer to opt for a turnkey solution? (If you opt for the latter, will the system you choose be able to integrate with any existing web pages in your district?)

3. Who will be responsible for implementing the system you’ve chosen (a technology coordinator at each school, for example)?

Questions to ask when choosing a vendor

4. Does the company have a solid business plan so it will be around for the long term? Does it have an established record in educational technology development and integration?

5. Does the company have its own team of developers? Are these developers educational specialists (do they understand what parents, teachers, and students need)?

6. Does the company or solution have implementation support and training? Is there a help desk you can call for answers to your technical questions? What are the additional costs for this support, if any?

7. Does the company’s solution provide an easy-to-use, consistent, yet customizable tool to build school web sites? Does the solution give you flexibility as to what modules are active? Does it offer flexibility in building and maintaining the site (its look and feel) at the school building or classroom levels?

8. Does the solution provide secure, password-protected access? Does it offer flexibility as to what modules are public or private?

9. Does the solution integrate with your existing school management and student information systems? Does it give you the ability to import data automatically from these systems?

10. Does the solution provide for equity of access? Does it include a telephony component, so parents without home internet access aren’t left out of the system?

(Source: wwwrrr Inc.)