Teachers make sites for students

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North Carolina has launched a pilot program to help middle school teachers create personalized Web sites.

NC Classes On-Line trains teachers to use standard templates to create their own Web sites that enable students to get information such as homework assignments, schedules, lunch menus and information on school events.

The program is the result of a dialogue between then Gov. Jim Hunt and local middle school students at a state fair. "Students really wanted a way they could check information about their classes," said Amy Hawfield, manager of the [email protected] portal team, which oversees the State's Web site (www.ncgov.com). "The former governor went back to the State's Office of Information Technology Services and got it going."

The OITS worked with the state's Department of Public Instruction and Yahoo to create the NC Classes On-Line program, which enables teachers to create home pages for their classes through a page-building program similar to Yahoo's widely used GeoCities. Hawfield praised the program because it doesn't require knowledge of HTML.

"Yahoo is also one of the partners of the state portal, and part of what they did was create a personalization aspect to the site," Hawfield said. "We wanted to use some of that same personalization technology for these classroom sites."

More than 700 teachers in eight counties are participating in the pilot program.

The Department of Public Instruction handled training for the program. It conducted half-day sessions and issued training manuals that outline the site-creation procedure. "We found that when it comes to technology training, people felt much more comfortable when there was warm body up there explaining things," said Ellen Kendall, a technological consultant for the department.

Department of Public Instruction officials will assess the results from the pilot program at the end of the coming school year and will then set a timeline to make NC Classes On-Line available to every school in North Carolina.

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