School system enhances online
Local schools are getting more interactive through School Fusion, a blend of instructional delivery, parental information and social networking.
Watauga County Schools revamped the district Web site over the summer, and individual school sites have evolved into news-sharing venues.
A key feature of the site is the ability of students and parents to log in from any computer and access class work, projects and meetings, as well as interact with teachers and school officials.
The sites are password protected so that only students and parents can see some information, while general school news is viewable by the public.
The new Web sites are provided and hosted through School Fusion, a Denver-based firm that provides services for more than 3,000 schools in North Carolina and 42 other states. Although School Fusion provides templates and hosting services, local school districts develop the content for their Web sites.
The main school-system address is the same, at http://www.watauga.k12.nc.us. Each of the nine schools in the system is linked from the main site.
The new features available include blogs, wikis, and podcasts; the ability for parents and others to access and personalize online calendars combining schedules for multiple students and different schools; new communication features for teachers, students, and parents; and the capacity to provide regular updates from schools, the school district, and individual classes.
Each classroom or program can have its own Web blog or page with links to class-related work, slide shows, homework assignments, and other information. All users are automatically signed up for daily news alerts five times a week. Pages can also be customized so that families can see all their enrolled children's calendars at the same time. Other customized reminders can send out alerts regarding tests, homework, school events or deadlines.
The transition is part of the school system's commitment to becoming a Global Learning Community, a long-range plan to enhance technology in the classroom and provide students with more interactivity and computer access.