Rumblings on Future Ideas for the District Portal

Context: The Issue

An unexpected problem with BYOD (really!) is access to software tools. It’s all great if you have students bringing their own devices to the class, but you now need them to do something with those devices. You get a mishmash of tools spitting out different products (or, sometimes, no product because there are no tools).

The solution Oak Hills has taken is to try and drive all software tools to the cloud. Specifically, the public cloud accessible via the internet.

This means tools like Google Apps for Education and Moodle (the big two in our district)…combined with ProgressBooks (grades) and other such products (WordPress, Study Island, Aviary, Quizlet, etc).

Collecting Web Tools

Once the software tools are determine (both in the public and private clouds), it is important to create a central location that collects those resources. The idea is to have a “one stop shop” place for students, staff, and parents.

For Oak Hills, that place is the portal.

A portal doesn’t need to be complicated. Its main purpose is collect web-based software applications. Some things to keep in mind:

  1. Push your most used applications to the main page. For Oak Hills, that meant gMail, Docs, Sites, and Calendar (as well as Moodle).
  2. Keep in mind aesthetics. A modern design helps.
  3. Also keep in mind that the portal will be accessed from smart phones and tablets. The design should look good on a tiny screen (or you can develop different designs based on different user agents).
  4. We use an embedded Twitter Widget to communicate technology related announcements. This allows us to post messages from any computer and/or phone without having to modify the website.

Future Plan

I’d like to have a responsive and responding portal.

The idea is that our education community (students, parents, staff) hit a login screen and then the portal shifts accordingly. Students view web applications that apply to them. Their email and documents appear in a widgetized screen. Announcements, tailored to them (and their subgroups) appear in a side column.


Docs Gadget

Spitballing here – but to me it makes sense to use Google Gadgets for this (mainly because we’re so rooted in the GAFE universe). Gadgets, composed of

  • XML
  • HTML
  • Javascript

Can be inserted into our own developed webpages (webpages that are responsive). That way students would see lists emails, groups, documents, etc.

Think Big

What would be really cool is to customize the portal into a true dashboard. Not only could students see their emails, docs, and announcements, but they could also see realtime breakdown of their grades and how their doing in class. Teachers could see highly detailed reports on student performance.

Theoretically, we’re supposed to be getting this with Software Answers’ Data Dashboard/Warehouse. Until I see it though, I’ll keep dreaming . The problem, best I can see, is that we’ve got a lot moving parts playing in their own universes (and they don’t talk with each other).

Still, technology keeps making this easier. We’ll get there eventually.

Realtime Data of End of Course Exam

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Recent Posts

An image of a whiteboard with faint traces of previous writings and diagrams, creating a visually distracting pattern. The whiteboard is in an office

Attention on a Hazzy Whiteboard

Switching attention leaves residue. Sometimes I feel like I’m swimming through that residue. The schemas I’m holding need focused and sustained attention, and the cludgy remnants of previous mental states and distractions makes the thinking I enjoy turn into thinking that is exhausting (and poorly done).

Read More »