Wednesday Open Forums at Houlihans

Just another OPEN invitation to join us for some OPEN discussion concerning Unit 4. I have invited a few more folks (via personal invitations), but I have no idea if they are coming or not. I hope they do, but they are busy individuals. We have no set agenda for tomorrow (hence, OPEN), but I would like to talk about something other than WordPress, Facebook and PTA websites if possible. 🙂

Last week we talked about PTA websites a bit. And we had some really good discussions. We covered the pros and cons of Facebook (ease-of-use and ubiquity vs security and lack of certain features like tracking conversations and static content), as well as things we are looking for in a PTA website. Basically, we prioritize:

  1. low maintenance and sustainable
  2. central updates; the ability to update one thing and have it propagate to all appropriate outlets (ie, admin email to PTA website which automatically goes to Facebook)
  3. Attractive look and feel
  4. low cost

I realize this sounds rather Utopian. But Read the rest of this entry »

Is your PTA online?

I gave myself a mission to contact PTA “webmasters”, and frankly I am disappointed that most schools have absolutely no information about their respective PTA, much less how to find them online. I am scratching my head trying to figure this out. I can understand that PTAs are simply volunteers, and it is entirely possible that most do not know how to generate a webpage (even though there are wide array of tools to help with this). The bigger issue, I think, is that Unit 4 does not make this easy at all. Unit 4 gives the “keys” of the PTA page to the school principal – if the principal has any free time whatsoever (a rare occurrence, I am sure *grin*), what are the chances they are also quite web-savvy and know how to get their PTA online? Of the few schools that have information on their PTA page, some have no links, email addresses and/or phone numbers. Makes it really hard to contact folks like that. 🙂

 

My self-appointed mission? To make it a ton easier to get PTA information in a webpage. Heck, I would even volunteer to pop up a very basic page for each school. The tricky part is ongoing sustainability, and teaching all the right people the steps they have to go through. Ideally, I would want to remove the PTA information out from under the principals domain; I am confused why that is set up that way. As part of that, I would encourage PTA folks to use a 3rd party site (not champaignschools.org). Unit 4 is joining up with IlliniCloud, and I have hopes (and designs) to get them to host more stuff for us. If that falls through, there is always the IMC, and I can donate some space as well.

 

Some schools have some nice stuff setup already. Some are using facebook, at least one is using tumblr, several are using Google Groups (and even Google Sites), a couple utilize u4friends.org (I have a mail to Mr. G David Fyre about that), and one seems to be run by a colleague at work (small world, eh?). I had a great meeting with Maeve Reilly last Friday; she is currently helping the Centennial PTA and has inherited a Google Sites/Groups setup. I also got her going on a Facebook Page. It is great that parent volunteers are stepping up to the plate. But why are each of us re-designing the wheel? Why is there so little apparent support from the schools? Keep in mind, I have a limited perspective on this – most assuredly, I am receiving a lot of support from our school. But system-wide, I see very little support.

 

More to follow.