School Website Makes Business Sense

A year ago I was teaching a grade 7 and 8 class at The Divine Infant in the Toronto Catholic District School board. I was looking for a collaborative project that would meet curriculum expectations and improve Internet Communication Technology (ICT) skills. I looked into the Schoolnet GrassRoots program in order to help support projects that we might undertake. I learned that the creation of a school Web site would be a good introduction into ICT for my students and provide the school with an Internet presence.

Over the course of three weeks the students went through the stages of Web site development. We started with the overall system design using a flow chart and narrowed our focus so that groups of students were responsible for different sections of the school Web site. We had groups for each section of the Web site: class, administration, home page, template and navigation. All students were free to submit a logo and students voted on the one they wanted to see on the school Web site. Students took pictures, interviewed staff, and created content for each section of the Web site.

Students learned quite a bit about the history of the school and the stories of the educators that taught there. They also learned the basics of Web page design as well as html. They were able to use html code to connect Web pages in the school Web site through a central navigation area and include external hyperlinks.

After submitting a report to the Schoolnet GrassRoots program we received grant money for our school Web site. We were able to purchase the school domain name, TheDivineInfant.com, as well as Web server space for the school Web site for one and a half years. I then began using the Web site for promoting other online collaborative projects with my students. It helped begin a process of integrating technology into the curriculum and opening doors for students.

But the story doesn’t stop there. Earlier this year, a school promotional manufacturing company — The Hilderand Sporting Goods Team Outfitters, contacted our school secretary through the school Web site. They were looking for a school with the name “The Divine Infant Catholic School.†They had boxes of t-shirts, shorts, sweatshirts and sweatpants that they produced for a school in Illinois that had closed down. The school was also named “The Divine Infant Catholic School.†They were left with hundreds of promotional items and wanted to donate it to a school instead of destroying the merchandise. The manufacturer had used the Internet to find our school Web site.

After a few Emails back and forth with the company, the school principal decided to travel to Chicago, where the manufacturing company was located, to pick up the materials instead of paying for shipping.

The school plans to sell the merchandise to the community as a means for school fundraising. With hundreds of t-shirts, shorts and sweaters they are sure to raise thousands of dollars, all at the cost of a grade 7 and 8 class project promoting the school using a school Web site and the Schoolnet Grassroots Program.

When asked what he thought of the school Web site Thad Baker said, “The Web site allows us to advertise our school to the community at large and also helps us to connect to the other schools outside our board and in other parts of the world. In my opinion, every school should have their own Web site so the students can also have an opportunity to make authentic connections.â€

Email: Quentin D’Souza

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