I interrupt my regularly scheduled monthly article of valuable information and timely insights to bring you a very special announcement: The new eSchool News Online site is LIVE!

In my first Online Publisher’s letter a few months ago, I enthusiastically wrote about many things we would be building on the internet, and I am very proud to be able to tell you the first phase of our planned enhancements was completed on August 10th. For this phase, we concentrated on the development of a new look and feel, and we enhanced the entire site navigation. While the design elements are essentially aesthetic, our primary concern was to build a site that allowed you to get all of the information you need more quickly and easily. Anyone visiting our site will be able to navigate to any other area of the site from the main page, and from there to any other area of the site with just a few clicks.

You’ll notice that we put up new information every day, so be sure to check back often. And now, we’re on to Phase Two. This phase of our plans includes enhancing a lot of the existing site functionality–career center searches and posts, article searches, links databases, and more–and adding in some great community-building functionality: chat rooms to network with colleagues and talk to other people who share your same passion; message boards for regular discussions; Q&A sessions; and many other ways to become more involved with us, so we can continue to provide you with the information and services you need. We should have much of Phase Two completed by the time you read this letter.

Finally … yes, there is a Phase Three, and we think it’s the most exciting phase of all. Slated to roll out around the middle of October, eSchool News Online will have a state-of-the-art eCommerce system and a “members only” area. Our eCommerce system will contain many beneficial features, such as a shopping cart, account administration, automatic credit card processing, ordering histories, and more. The “members only” area of eSchool News Online will contain an increased amount of valuable content that has been available until now only in our various print publications. In communicating with our customers on a daily basis, we’ve realized that by expanding our online offerings, we can deliver the vital information you need more quickly and effectively. And in addition to a host of valuable content, membership will allow you to take advantage of all the other eSchool News products and services at a substantial discount.

As the new school year begins, we hope all of our new online initiatives will better aid you in your school technology integration challenges. Before coming to eSchool News, my expertise was in building online sites and in the writing industry. The main thing I learned about writers was that they had various needs throughout the writing process, from developing story lines to finding an agent, and from page layout to self-promotion. Though different from those in writing and publishing, you also have various needs, from being able to ask the right questions to setting up a T1 line, and from choosing the right software to internet content filtering. It is our goal to provide you with the broadest scope of information we can, and to build a “home” for school technology professionals nationwide.

To close, we have a lot planned for eSchool News Online, so stay tuned to this column for future updates. Also, if you would like to hear from us more frequently, you can subscribe to our weekly eMail newsletter, School Technology ALERT! To subscribe, visit: www.eschoolnews.com/resources/enewsletters/alert.