Website transition in 2014
Falcon School District 49’s website, located at D49.org, will receive an upgrade during the 2014 summer break. During the 2013-2014 school year, the district’s communications team invested considerable time reviewing community feedback, while exploring options with various web developers. During the second half of the year, the district entered an agreement with SchoolWires. Ahead of the 2014-2015 school year, District 49 will launch a new website experience that’s innovative, personalized and responsive. The SchoolWires Centricity2 platform offers impressive functionality and user-customizable content.
On April 4, a final design was approved, along with four breaking points for adapting to mobile devices. Coding of the new template is scheduled for completion in early June, while content is compiled and features are configured using a test site. The public launch is scheduled for July 1, and extensive training will be offered to school-based webmasters prior to the 2014-2015 school year starting. After the migration is complete, each school will continue to manage its own site's content.
Custom Design for District 49's Community
The district's communications team considered numerous concerns with the district’s current website design and functionality, as explained by stakeholders in recent surveys. For example, survey responses have suggested information is often difficult to locate or share. There’s a lack of consistency between school websites, which is causing parent confusions. Staff accounts must be created manually, rather than automatically using internal directories and credentials. Parents are unable to login and manage their experience. All these issues, and many more, will be resolved. The new platform will enhance school-to-home communications, collaborative learning, mobile communications, community outreach programs, brand consistency, third party system integration, and much more.
The new website was designed with the goal of upgrading the existing site with Web 2.0 design and functionality. The district's use of primary and secondary colors is preserved. A drop down menu above the district logo will allow quick access to any school website. A status icon was integrated into the website to indicate "Normal Schedule" (green), "Delayed Schedule" (yellow) and "Closed" (red) during inclement weather. Global icons include links to the Digital Backpack, Falcon Insider email newsletter, district news blog and career opportunities. Selecting the single-click sign on link, called "My Passkeys", will allow logged in visitors to automatically authenticate their sessions on other popular websites, such as Schoology and InfiniteCampus. Below a large image slider with news headlines and leads, an accordion slider will contain links to content of current interest, as well as content of interest to specific website visitor groups. There are numerous calendar options that make creating and sharing events much easier. The website will continue to allow local businesses to purchase banner space via the district's CAN partnership.
Responsive Design for Mobile Devices
During the first semester of the 2013-2014 school year in District 49, roughly 30 percent of D49.org’s website visitors used a browser on a mobile device. Globally, this year, mobile Internet use is expected to match desktop use, and then quickly exceed it. District 49’s new templates will dynamically adapt each of the district’s websites for various screen sizes, as well as the touch-based navigation expected with mobile devices. The breaking points start at 768 pixels, and continue at 640, 480 and 320. Each shift in design will include an option to "View Full Site," which returns the website to its full resolution format, regardless of the accessing device's screen size.
The new website will provide increased website consistency from elementary to high school, while ensuring suitable grade-level content is quickly accessible. Throughout each student’s academic career, website navigation will strive to remain more predictable for parents. Households with multiple enrollments spanning two or more schools will find it easier to locate information. As each child graduates from elementary to middle school, and then middle to high school, the website will strive to ensure his or her parents continue to find the information that’s most important to their family. The following table contains the latest navigation scheme (as of April 8, 2014).
|District||Elementary School||Middle School||High School|
With the new website, school pages will reside in directories using school abbreviations, rather than subdomains. In other words, Falcon High School is now located at falconhigh.d49.org, but may move to d49.org/FHS. Using domain name server settings, traffic will be automatically rerouted from the prior subdomains for a year or more, allowing enough time for homepage links in printed documents to get updated.
With SchoolWires, teachers can continue to host a blog for classroom topics, and they can customize viewing and participation permissions. However, they're encouraged to migrate their classrooms into the district's Schoology site, and a link will be located in the "My Passkeys" window near each site's header. Because Schoology is a real-name service like Facebook, students cannot post using a pseudonym, where only their teacher knows their offline identity. If that's important to classroom discussions, then they may choose to use the SchoolWires TeacherApp and blog. When a teacher hosts classroom discussions, quizzes, surveys or a calendar, they take full responsibility for maintaining that content.
District 49 charter schools have the option to also transition to the new responsive, personalized website design. They're required to notify the district's communications department by May, so they're template is completed on the test server in June and ready for the public launch July 1. As of June 1, three charter schools finalized a decision to purchase space:
- Imagine Indigo Ranch
- Pikes Peak School of Expeditionary Learning
- Rocky Mountain Classical Academy
- "Centricity2". SchoolWires. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
- "Centricity2™ website and content management system". SchoolWires. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
- "ComScore: Mobile Will Force Desktop Into Its Twilight In 2014". Business Insider. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
- "New Study Shows the Mobile Web Will Rule by 2015 [STATS]". Mashable. Retrieved April 4, 2014.