Monday, January 26, 2009

Superintendent's Blog in progress

I met recently with the Camas School District superintendent, Mike Nerland, and the district's public information officer, Doreen McKercher, to discuss how I could help them with their Web site needs. Nerland has been wanting to start "a superintendent's blog," as this idea is gaining traction in his field as an effective and efficient way to communicate with constituents.

McKercher has been reading about blogging in the public relations field as well, and the two of them have been talking about doing this sort of project for a few weeks. Both expressed during our discussion the desire to have a blog that was easy for them to use and maintain as well as one that is easy for patrons to navigate.

From that point of view, I suggested that instead of using a more complex content management system, such as Drupal or NVU, we would use a standard template system from one of the leaders in the blogging field, Google's Blogger or WordPress, and also look into a similar online system that I ran across called Edublogs.org, a blogging system designed specifically for educators. In turn, I offered to create a detailed instruction manual for operation and maintenance, whichever direction we go.

I also offered to create three prototypes, one from each system, under these domain names:

camas.edublogs.org
camasschools.blogspot.com
camasschools.wordpress.com

They asked for a clean, simple and professional look to the blog. So even though this is going to be the "superintendent's blog," the intent clearly is for a formal presentation, not a window into his personal whims and interests. The hope, too, they said, is to make this the portal for the rest of the school district, which maintains a variety of sites of differing styles and quality level. The hope is that this could become the front porch of the district.

There are 3,200 households within the district and about 18,000 residents in this town, a close suburb to Portland, Ore.

We had some initial discussions about Internet 1.0 content, versus Internet 2.0 and beyond, and the district officials expressed hope that the interactive outreach could be moderated to keep discussions at a high level and about related topics.

In short, Nerland and McKercher want the blog to at least do a couple of basic things: Allow Nerland to communicate to people in the district and give people an online way to connect with him. We also talked about ways in which he could make this portal more personal and help users feel more comfortable in engaging with him and his ideas.

Those are all things that need to be worked out, I suppose. At this point, though, I'd say they are comfortable with the 1.0 sharing of information, and we'll have to keep talking about more 2.0 concepts. I'll keep you updated on those developments.

To begin with, I plan to set up the pages with a few standard elements:

* Superintendent bio
* Blog
* Contact information
* Links to other Camas School District sites
* RSS feed
* Archives

From there, we have a variety of options to consider. They would like to try a podcast, incorporating it as a "storytelling" moment for the superintendent, about someone interesting he has met in the district, or some new program, or whatever. They would like to post documents, press releases and project information and budgets and the like. They would like to post slideshows of appearances Nerland makes at various school events. We'll see how much we can get done.

Question: Any of you out there have any opinions on which of the three systems (Blogger, WordPress and Edublogs) works best for this sort of thing? And why?

- Brett

1 comment:

garyperman said...

Blogger has more color and font options, Wordpress has access to pages...so if you plan on several page heading, Wordpress is easier to use if you aren't a programmer.

I suggest you buy a domain for $7 and forward it to your blog as well. domains are easier to remember than a long blog name.

Gary Perman
www.gourmetheadhunter.com (wordpress)
www.technicalheadhunter.com (blogger)