Website in Schools

Abstract

This dissertation addresses the technology of website use in schools to enhance learning and communication between and among all participants. The dissertation aims to explore the technology of website use in schools for the purpose of enhancing learning and communication for the benefit of the pupils, parents, teachers, school management, and the entire community. Extensive information has been collected from diverse sources as pertains to technology. The significance of the technology has been explored, its application, and benefits to the pupils, teachers, parents, the entire school staff, and the community at large. The results of a survey conducted to assess the technology’s application have been analyzed and the relevant verdict implied. Barriers to the application of the technology as well as security and safety posed by the use of the technology and the possible solutions to the barriers have as well been addressed.

The dissertation leads an individual to conclude that technology has some positive attributes to society especially in this era of advanced technology. However, due to the safety issues raised a greater level of precautions is called for.

Introduction

How can a school website be used as a learning and communication tool?

The effective use of the website as a globalization technology is of paramount importance towards the enhancement of teaching in schools. It is also a very effective technique of conveying messages between the relevant parties that are affected by the development aspect of pupils as they gain and accumulate knowledge. The technology also enhances and improves productivity. Technology is very crucial and when introduced into the classrooms, it is very influential for the students to acquire knowledge in respective disciplines in a more enjoyable and lively manner.

The technology creates continuous contact by all rightful participants. Effective communication is quite dependent on effective learning. The technology of websites in schools helps to bridge gaps, exchange ideas; expand the curriculum, as well as help, deliver education everywhere. The school as a unit is therefore integrated into the global community very easily. A community can be kept in contact and a learning environment through the use of a website.

Other advantages include the following: – there is a reduction of cost in terms of money and time needed for the development and deployment of sessions of interaction for the purpose of exchanging ideas, views, and decisions. The technology is also influential towards effective personal interaction and the full participation of every participant. The technology also boosts the morale of the teachers the students and the entire society and the effective involvement of each player. ( Wood, Nicholson and Findley, 1985)

There is also improved knowledge tapping up to the unreached potentials. The involved participants give the maximum contribution to each other and they are more helpful in a reciprocating way. Tracking down each individual is relatively easy. Special computer skills are unnecessary. A conducive environment for learning and understanding is created by this technology. “Communication through e-learning “virtual space” (e.g.). A classroom where the focus is on a more formal learning process aimed at developing skills or knowledge. “Communicating in a virtual community. For a community of practice, a community of interest of informal learning. (Bear and Bear, 2003.112)

The web is a good source of support for learners since it provides a huge connection of library, students can explore broadly and widely as well as having a comprehensive follow-up of their research.

Benefits of websites in schools

The effective utilization of this technology is influential towards the realization of the benefits inherent in the technology to the entire community affected by the technology. Generally, the scope of beneficiaries here range from students to parents, to teachers, and up to the school officials.

This technology has some special advantages to the entire school’s staff on the progress of their children. Each stage of development of the children is closely monitored and there is a reduced burden of the assessment of the pupil’s work after school, saving time required for the purpose.

The parents can also comfortably air their views and concerns to the relevant school officials. In some circumstances, parents have n adverse attitude towards communication with the staff of their children’s school. In some cases, the attitudes portray a negative impact of their views by the staff. In other cases, time is the hindrance to this role. (Margetts 1998)

Parents can use the electronic forum component of the website for the purpose to request the teachers to advise them and share some ideas on the best way they can help their children in improving performance. The recommendation of the sellers of the best quality school materials including reading materials can be channeled to the parents.

Imminent barriers are comfortably catered for by this technology. Issues related to upcoming exams and other relevant activities are well informed in a convenient way through the use of this technology. Face-to-face contacts are expensive in terms of time and money; leave alone their inconvenience (Schneeman, 2000). Efficiency in life is through achievement.

Another area of concern and of great advantage to the students is the information on the community. This information helps the students to connect the theoretical skills learned in class and their practical application in an existing scenario. Students thus acquire higher degrees of competency and a real value of the skills learned in school.

The students can make use of the electronic forums on the website of their school for the purpose of seeking help from their peer students. The alumni of the school can also use the electronic forums to share their experiences and participate in the activities of the school both inside the school as well as outside.

The technology also helps to build links between the school with the surrounding families and businesses. This facilitates the qualification of the school website as an important resource to the surrounding community. Other people far away from the school can also benefit from the website since this is a global thing. This gives the school a very good reputation. (Covaleskie, 1994.)

The technology further benefit teaches in that they can share ideas amongst themselves and that each individual’s availability is enhanced. The future career of the teaching fraternity is highly simplified by website technology. All the materials currently used by the teachers can be collected and safely kept to be used in future teaching activities. For the new teachers, they also have a benefit in that the results of earlier research and the accumulated teaching materials over time are at their disposal.

The time and energy therefore that they would use for this purpose can be directed to other more productive activities. This is beneficial to the individual teacher, the students, and the entire school. Teachers may also use the technology to give parents and students the upcoming lessons such that the expected topics of coverage are priory known to students and their parents.

The benefits are thus extended to the students who approach the topic with a pre-set mind hence giving the teacher an easy time. Electronic forums of the website of the school can assist teachers in their teaching. This is achieved in a situation where the teachers pose a question in the electronic forum and request the students to respond to the question as some homework (Papert, 1993.)

In each school, there is a mandatory requirement for an annual parent-teacher’s association meeting. Traditionally these meetings occur once a year and for participation, each individual must be available physically. The time span for the meeting is usually limited such that an individual may be denied the chance for participation. Further, it requires that a long reserve for the ideas to be raised at the meeting is maintained. All these drawbacks are catered for once a good website is in place. Electronic forums can be held where parents, teachers, and the management of the school hold forums via the website to explore various topics of relevance to participants. The technology allows individuals to participate at any time while being in any geographical area. The contents can also be used by teachers and parents to conduct some informal surveys. To the entire family, the website is of vital importance. The teacher can utilize the school’s website for the purpose of informing the children’s families about the objectives of the course and curriculum. The already completed and the upcoming students’ projects can be displayed on the webpage of the school’s website electronic forum. The students’ grades are updated to their parents to help improve the performance of the students. This is a very good replacement for the traditional report forms and it offers a better chance for parents to assist their children at an early stage. This is important for the purposes of the sequential and progressive development of the student

Survey findings

Importance of website in schools: A research conducted.

To come up with a clear conclusion concerning the issue of a website in schools a survey was conducted covering students in the range between years three through four, five, and six. The questionnaire covered eight different issues. The issues addressed the year of participant student, availability of internet at home, knowledge, and skills necessary for the use of the internet, ease of complexity of finding an internet, the importance of or usefulness of availability of a list of website, the persistence level of the student’s parents to see the students work and newsletter and lastly, the importance of a term table with the school holidays on the website.

The result of the survey is summarized under the above list of aspects as follows:

In which year of learning did the interviewed student belong?

Out of the total number of students interviewed 26 of them were in year three, 18 in year four, 28 in year five, and 17 in year six. The greatest percentage of the students interviewed were in the significant academic range requiring the use of the website technology for the positive enhancement of progress in learning. The figures give significant figures out of the overall total number of students involved in the survey.

Availability of the Internet at home: Can students access the internet at home?

The data collected indicated that 25 students in year three had access to the Internet at home while 1 student admitted that this facility was lacking at home. In year four, 21 students had access to the Internet at home while 2 of them lacked the facility. In year five, 21 students accessed the facility while 2 of them were unfortunate. In year six, 21 had access while 1 of them was unfortunate.

The results of the student’s feedback on the issue of availability of the internet further favor the use of the technology for the purposes of enhancing the learning and information channeling as a tool for learning of students in the school. The results indicate that the greatest percentage have no problem with the availability of the Internet.

Experience and skills of students in the use of the Internet: Do the students have the necessary computer techniques?

Out of the number of participant students in this survey, 20 students in year three had no problem with the use of the Internet while one was unfortunate. In year four, 22 were competent but one had no skills. In year five, all 28 students interviewed were competent. In year six, 18 students had the necessary skills and experience while four lack any skills.

The skills issue portrayed by the results of the survey has some positive support for the use of the technology. The greater percentage of the interviewed students gave results that depict that most of the young generation is already skilled and experienced towards the use of the computer for the purpose of internetting.

Attaining a website

This survey produced the following results as pertains ease or difficulty of getting a website. It was extremely difficult for 8 students in year three to access a website, 8 of them were moderately comfortable while 10 of them found it extremely easy. In year four, no students had extreme difficulty accessing a website, 8 of them were moderately comfortable while 4 found it extremely easy. In year five, 4 students had extreme difficult 9 were moderately comfortable while 10 had extreme ease in accessing a website. The survey further indicated that none of the students in year six had extreme difficulty accessing a website 6 of them were moderately comfortable while it was extremely easy for 14 of the interviewed student to access a website.

The results of this aspect of the survey are yet favorable towards the technology used in schools. The majority of the students interviewed had no problem getting a website. The number of students who had difficulties in attaining a website considerable efforts is necessary to solve the problem

Importance of a list of useful websites for the students to choose from: Is variety healthy?

The survey yielded the following findings with respect to the above aspect: out of the total number of students interviewed 22 of them in year three were positive towards the usefulness of a list of the website while only 4 had a negative attitude. In year four 19 students had a positive attitude while only 4 gave negative results. In year five 25 students were on the positive side while only three gave negative attitude. In year six 17 students contributed positive attitudes while only 4 found the list of websites to be unnecessary.

The majority of the students find it useful to have a variety of websites. Most of them express the importance of choice which is healthy. Individuals should exercise the right of choice.

Persistence level of the students’ parents to view students’ work and newsletters.

The results of the survey indicated that the parents of 20 students in year three usually persisted to scrutinize works and newsletters while the parents of 6 students were completely ignorant. In year four the parents of 20 students were concerned about the scrutiny of the students’ works and newsletters while the parents of 3 students were completely ignorant in this respect. In year six, the parents of 18 students expressed concern with respect to the students’ works and newsletters while the parents of 4 students portrayed ignorance in respect to the assessment of students’ works and newsletters.

Most parents are eagerly concerned about the progress of their students. This is the reason why they usually check on the student’s work and newsletters after the students leave school. The duty will be greatly eased and efficiency built with the introduction of the internet as a technology to enhance learning and communication in schools.

Importance of a term table with the school holidays on the website: Is it influential?

As regards this aspect of the survey the following data was collected. 22 students in year three found it useful to have this term table with the school holidays while 4 students found it useless. In year four 18 students expressed the usefulness of a term table with the school holidays on the website whereas only 5 found it not useful. In year five 23 students found it extremely useful for the availability of a term table with the school holidays on the website while 5 of them found it not useful. In year six 19 students found that this term table was useful while only 3 found it not useful (Strommen, 1995)

For the purpose of prior programming by the students, the website requires to include a term table with the school holidays. Students and their parents and teachers can comfortably plan their curricular and extracurricular and personal activities.

Components of a schools website

The history of the school the address of the school and a physical map, its philosophy, plans, and the mission statement should all be part of the school’s website. The website should also have a contact page. The necessary details of the contact page are the e-mail addresses and phone numbers that fall under the school’s domain name. The contact page allows the parents to leave a message, which should be securely retrieved by their intended recipients. The security issue of this technology should be protected to guarantee the privacy of communication at a time when it is required.

The school website should be regularly updated and refreshed to minimize the risk of the institutional tendency to give outdated and static information which do not significantly lead to the developments intended by the technology. The update comes in the forms of anticipated school meetings, students’ activities within and outside the school, expected school breaks such as midterms and holidays, and graduation ceremonies. The most significant school events may be recorded with the use of digital cameras and digital videos for future references.

The other most significant component of the school website is resources for educational purposes. These are important as they form reference and teaching aids for the benefit of teachers and pupils. The resources of importance in this respect include links to other websites, journals, electronics books, teaching aids, etc all of which should be regularly reviewed by teachers, technicians, and librarians to recommend for the need of their maintenance in the website.

The other component of the school’s website is an electronic forum. More information on the electronic forums has been discussed under the benefits of websites in the school’s section of this paper.

Lastly, the website should have a link of the school to the families of the children. This is the communication need of the technology. It is helpful to maximize the time and energy used by the parents to visit the school. (Alvarez, Barone McClure, Ringle Stuckey and West, 1996.)

What are barriers to the use of the website?

The most technical barrier in the use of website technology in schools is the relevant skills and experiences of the users. Most members of this institutional setup may be suffering from insufficient understanding relevant to the application of the technology for the intended benefits to be realized. This, therefore, calls for the internship of the intended beneficiaries of the technology. The individuals should be made to understand and to practically use the technology for the benefit of all the participants. (Weston, Rachel 1994)

Security and safety of the website

This technology however poses serious threats to the safety of the user. Some of these dangers arise out of the growing popularity that has grown up out of some social networking sites. Teens are connected to their friends; they are also given opportunities to meet new pals. They may also plan events and be subjected to gossips. The popularity of these sites has grown to great levels among the young generation. The teens can exchange their personal details, across the globe. The details, which include photos, are predisposed to predators, which may include sexual predators. These may be a cause of threats, cyberbullying, and disturbance by the use of language and pictures (LaQuey, Tracy, and Ryer1993). The use of the website may be used to threaten, torment, harass, humiliate or embarrass a young person through the Internet by another young child. The cyber bulled can also become a cyberbully unconsciously. The technology can also result in identity theft. The information about an individual when used on the internet can be used to obtain credit or evade criminal ability. The predators may use personal identifying information online for their own personal gains. A computer virus is also a contribution of this ill. The other threat posed by the use of the internet in schools is the existence of predatory. Pedophiles’ are oriented towards child sexual offenses. The pedophile usually copies the children’s school photos and transforms them into pornographic images. This is haunting to the specific child in a situation where the child accesses his/her photo in use for pornographic purposes. Most of these pedophiles make use of school websites for the satisfaction of their sexual fantasies. (Parker, Tracy LaQuey, 1993)

The other major threat of technology to the young is the virus. The virus comes as a man-made program with some negative and unexpected outcomes to the student. The virus may exhibit the form of a game or an image assuming a seductive title for the purpose to attract attention to the intended recipient. The view may also take the form of worms that send themselves through the internet and e-mail. The virus may also come in form of a Trojan horse which comes in a version that the user does not expect. The intent of all these are malicious (Scalon, 2003)

Internet safety tips

To avoid the situation where young children are victims of internet negative effects it is good to observe the following areas: – The parents and teachers should come up with clearly set, simple to understand rules and regulations that the children should follow. The children should frequently be reminded about these rules. The area to be covered includes the time of the children’s exposure to the Internet and the specified area of exploration.

At home, parents should make sure that the computer used by their children is positioned at a place where the other members of the family can view whatever the child is doing with the computer. The children should access only one computer that is connected to the internet. An alternative to this is the use of only one password known to the children to access the internet. The parent should also take the precaution of restricting the issue of some identifying information such as the name, school name, telephone numbers, or home address to people not well known or in a public forum. This protects the children’s information to fall into the social networking websites that have come up. Parents should also restrict their children to post their pictures online. (Tracy and Stout, 1993)

In any instance that a child feels scared, uncomfortable, or confused while using the website should not be concealed but rather discussed for the purpose of identifying possible cyberbullying. Parents should be open in communication with their children (Parker, Tracy LaQuey, 1994). The parents should also have a comprehensive knowledge of the internet and the existence of any services that the children use. The procedure used by children to access strange websites should be known to parents. The parents are also required to download or make use of internet safety and monitoring programs to control the exposure of students to pornography, grumbling as some examples of unacceptable sites for the children.

The permission and/or the company of a child in meeting physically with another computer user is required. This protects the child from the dire danger of encountering predators who are experienced in the use of any possible technique to lure the child to fall into their trap (Solomon, 1988). There may once in a while appear on the internet some messages with the following qualities:- they may be obscene, suggestive, threatening, or uncomfortable. These messages should be ignored at all costs. The message if viewed to be inappropriate should be reported to the law enforcers. Lastly, any individual should be suspicious about the truthiness of every message on the website. The person met online may not be the actual existing person.

Conclusion

The exploration of this technology allows us to appreciate the effectiveness and cost of the use of the website in schools as a promoter of communication. The entire school community including the parents and the other members of the outer community benefits as all of them are connected in an information network. The benefits achieved out of a well-laid down school website outweigh by far the cost, both in terms of resources and time required to set up an effective school website. This is a quality of a lucrative investment just like in any other area of life.

The awareness of the technology for the students, teachers, and school officials is fully broadened through the extensive use of the school website. Further, the technology used gives the participants an opportunity towards responsibility and application of technology while appreciating the existence of online communication. The extension of the technology involving website use in schools leaves any concerned individual in dilemma. A slight derail by the children may lead to serious repercussions and negative side effects to the children. The benefits of the technology on the other side are so encouraging towards the adaptions and integration of the technology in our community. It sets appreciable steps to cope with globalization. One major threat of the technology to people is the possible risk of unemployment, as fewer staff will be needed if the technology is applied.

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