One of the reasons why I think Manila might be the best suited software out there for building a school Website is the flexibility and functions that it has behind the scenes. Now I don’t know about MT or the other open source alternatives, but I’m not sure how many other Weblog packages could facilitate a workable solution to the content review requirements that my superintendent has asked for. I think Manila has.
What I’ve been struggling with is finding a balance between the districts desire to ensure quality content on the site in terms of appropriateness and correctness and a process that will not be so cumbersome that teachers or staff members wouldn’t be willing to post to the site. With the help of my redesign team, I think we’ve come up with something that will work.
When someone creates a news post on any of the dozens of Weblogs we’ll have running, we’ll configure that site to send notifications to that person’s supervisor and to our Public Information Officer who can review the content right in the e-mail and reply to the author with approval or changes. Once the author receives those approvals, she goes back and publishes the post. When someone creates a story on a site, notification will be sent as usual, but the author won’t link the stories to anywhere (since that’s pretty much the only way anyone will know they were created) until she gets approvals back. For now, all commenting will be turned off, so that shouldn’t be a problem.
The teachers on the team all said this wasn’t unreasonable, and the principal and PIO felt the district’s concerns would be met by this process. I’m sure it’s going to need tweaking, but for now, I think we can move forward. And the best news is that I’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback on the look and feel of the pages. (And believe it or not, yesterday a school webmaster from a nearby district called me out of the blue and said, and I quote, “my board wants our site to look like your site. How do we do it?” Looks like I may be sending Bryan some more business.)