Throughout the past few weeks, I’ve been working on the school website with a group of five others. We’ve been trying to transform it from an labyrinth of out-dated information into an easy-to-navigate page.
One of the first issues we noticed upon first examination of the website was how infrequently it was updated – on some pages, the last edit had been made several years ago. While my group members typed up 26 pages of policy information from the agenda and linked the school’s social media accounts to the website, I took on the task of updating the Clubhouse page.
My job consisted mainly of sorting through club lists and tracking down presidents for the member count and description of their club. Unsurprisingly, most of my time was spent messaging and e-mailing reminders to the club presidents. While it was interesting to see which clubs had been approved and which had been shut down, the work quickly grew monotonous.
What I did enjoy was the coding aspect. Obviously, I didn’t do any hardcore programming – it was just formatting the text and menus – but it was more engaging than reading lists of staff advisors and club meeting times. And I certainly developed a better understanding of how to use WordPress to its full potential.
Naturally, I was relieved when I found that my placement group worked well together. During the brainstorming process, we were all open to new ideas on how to improve the site, and decided on our main areas of focus with little argument. After we had gotten our placement plan approved, we split up the responsibilities, giving every member an equal amount of work. As of now, we are very close to completing our placement and so far, there has been no conflict.
The only difficulty I faced through this process was contacting club presidents for club descriptions. It wasn’t hard to message them or find them in the halls, but it certainly was frustrating to wait a week for my messages to be seen and acknowledged. I have to admit, I did grow mildly annoyed when I sent someone a fifth reminder for a two-sentence write-up, but other than that, everything went smoothly.
Our main goal was to make the website more user-friendly and I believe the changes we implemented were effective in doing so. The modifications to the menu and the pages under each category make the site hierarchy more logical – for example, we merged three separate tabs (“Activities”, “Partnerships”, and “Life at Mac”), all focusing on the social experience at Mackenzie, into one category. All faculty, student council, and club pages are now up to date and provide students with relevant information. Information about the three Advanced Placement courses offered at Mac has also been added to the website.
This redesign will hopefully make for a better user experience for both current and prospective students. As a stressed and anxious eighth grader looking for the perfect high school, I spent a lot of time on school websites, scrolling through pages and pages of specialized programs and extracurricular activities. What better way to impress potential future students (and their parents) than with an organized, up-to-date website that clearly showcases the amazing academic and social opportunities Mackenzie has to offer? And now, as a more stressed and anxious twelfth grader trying to make it through my last year at my “perfect” high school, having lost my agenda within the first two weeks of school, it gives me peace of mind to know that I now have easy access to information about important deadlines and guidelines on the new Policies page.
Personally, I really enjoyed the assignment, and I liked the fact that we got to select our top three placement choices and one person we wanted to work with. This way, we were more likely to enjoy our project and the collaborative element. However, I think future IDC students should be provided with more detailed descriptions of every placement before they decide what they want to work on. While something like the Google Classroom placement is pretty self-explanatory, other tasks like the “Literacy and Numeracy Quizlets” and the “various science-related activities” are quite vague.
I think placement projects are incredibly useful for IDC students, the teachers they are assigned to, and the students of those teachers. Every one of the placements offered this semester gave students the opportunity to learn new skills. For example, the students developing workshops for grade 9 students undoubtedly learned to use Google Keep, a valuable productivity tool and practiced their presentation skills. The project allows teachers to get a student’s perspective on how they can incorporate technology into the classroom, or even just get help with projects that enrich student learning or productivity that they don’t have enough time to take on. And obviously, as the central purpose of all of the projects is to enhance education and ensure success, the hard work invested in these projects definitely benefits students.