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Supporting the schoolWorld web sites

January 16, 2014

Well, its not the most exciting stuff, but it is my job, which i get paid a decent salary to do…..so…

With the retirement of my long time colleague shirley, I will be taking over her responsibilities as web master on our 10 schoolWorld websites. Really, the most interesting thing to me is that they are written in coldFusion, a language that i used to do a lot of programming in. Heavy sigh…I do miss those days of CF programming in DataMentor….

I had a training the other day with Mechan McCoon from schoolWorld. The following is a list of things she covered as well as some infor. provided by Shirley.

Here is a link to the schoolWorld commercial site.

SchoolWorld is a content management site, its a service that allows you to build your own web site, with an emphasis on education, I think. You can purchase a template and some *space, I think 2 GB limit, then more $ for more space afterward. You are given access credentials, someone becomes a webmaster for your new space and they can then create new accounts for people to create and manage the content in the site.

The template that is chosen provides the initial framework where new content can be added. Modules are available that allow the webmaster to control what types of features they would like on their site. When new accounts are created, rights or permissions are assigned to the account. The permissions describe what parts of the site or where the account can edit/add/delete content.

Content consists of typical things like, text, images, video, slideshows (animated images), flash, calenders, etc.

Files can be uploaded and referenced, typically at the bottom of content pages. Links, (URLS) can also be added to the bottom of pages, but users typically want to reference links and files in the page content, so they can also be referenced there.

One thing I don’t have is a RD instance where I can mess around in a safe place, without messing up live content. This is my brain as a developer seeing this, it probably does not matter too much, I have to shift my thinking a bit and use the native ability to not show content that i add to a site while trying to figure things out.

There are some neat modules like, forms, that allow users to create a psudo db and slideshows, that allow for the animation of images added to the site.

Another major component are teacher pages. Teacher pages are private areas on the site for a specific teacher, where they can post classroom related information, like homework, assignments etc. This is like a virtual homeroom for the teacher. This is similar to Moodle, but moodle focuses more on the actual courses and their content online, as opposed to the information about the class.

The number of teacher sites is restricted or limited. When the limit is reached, old sites need to be given back (recycled) or new sites need to be purchased.

As the webmaster, i can find the login area of each of the sites by appending /admin to the site URL, Once I authenticate, I am in, in the webmaster role. Here, I can change any site content, create new accounts, upload files, images, create links, add subpages, change the text on navigation buttons, correct broken file or image links in a paragraph on a page, change someones password, remove an account, change account permissions, find a file in the filling cabinet, create an animation or images, update the calendar of events, etc.

On each site, in the admin area, there are Main Pages, which are the main navigation buttons from left to right across the top of the page. This is dictated by the template, but it is consistent on each of our sites. Each Main Page can have as many sub-pages as desired. Each sub-page becomes a linked page beneath the Main Site buttons. Simple, logical, traditional.

main_nav

Some of the sub-pages can be in *inactive mode, preventing them from showing and allowing a period of review if necessary prior to making live.

Sub-pages can themselves have sub-pages, which is a logical means to breaking down content and representing their relationship.

Options exist that allow you to control the sort order of subpages, you could move a sub-page to the top of the drop down menu by lowering its value. A page can also be moved from one area to another by links avail.

Here is a problem where content is simply buried too deep in the site. I had to traverse down 6 levels before I could find the content.

Departments & Services »
Technical & Career Education »
Finger Lakes Technical & Career Center »
Technical and Career Programs FLTCC »
Criminal Justice-FLTCC »
AM Class »
Ethics in Criminal Justice

My guess is that the content in the Ethics in Criminal Justice page exists somewhere else, not buried so far underground.

There is a Form Creator module that is used to create web ready forms that will allow the customer to create a web form for things like registrations to trainings or inqueries for information. One of our customers we meet with last week described a need like this. I will see about creating a web form like what he asked for and place it within his sight then invite him to view it.

form_creator

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