Before Nancy Duin retired as the communications director for the Lake Oswego School District, she led the LOSD's launch of a new series of websites.
From January up until Duin's last day June 30, she saw through the completion of the switchover in all of the school websites and the main district site. This July, the LOSD moved its main site from www.edline.net/pages/Lake_Oswego_School_District to www.losdschools.org. And all 10 schools' restructured websites also came online.
In addition to sporting much of the content that the old sites had, Duin says that the new sites are "more visually appealing and have greater flexibility and functionality relative to the organization and layout of content."
She says that more modern features include, for example, that a homepage photo gallery, can link to content, which was not possible with the district's former websites. The new sites "also have a custom search function, which our former sites lacked, and they are more responsive to viewing on different devices" such as phones and tablets, she adds.
The district paid $6,000 for a new template and activation and $7,000 for training in January and March. Because the district is remaining with Wash., D.C.-based education tech services company Blackboard, the web hosting costs remain the same, which was $21,066 last fiscal year. Web hosting is a service that companies like Blackboard provide to organizations and individuals, so they can post a website on the Internet.
This switch is a change that's actually been six years in the making. In 2011, Blackboard merged with former education-oriented website and communications company Edline, the provider of the district's old web platform since 2010.
Both Edline and Blackboard are owned by Providence Equity Partners, a private equity investment firm in Providence, Rhode Island. PEP completed its acquisition of Blackboard in 2011, when Edline became a division of Blackboard, according to a 2011 press release from Blackboard.
PEP is sunsetting Edline in 2018, so the district chose to replace the website this year, Duin explains.
"We decided it would be best to go ahead and make the move this year — it would have been a lot for a new communications director to manage in her first year in the district," Duin says.
Duin — who was replaced by current communications director Christine Moses on July 1 — says that edline has served the district well, but since the product is being phased out, Edline has had few recent product enhancements or developments.
The website switchover effort kicked off with Duin taking online training sessions on Blackboard this January. Then, an expert came in March to offer a two-day website training for key staff at each school or district department, usually an administrator or director and office support staff.
District staff members have been working on building the new sites since March, with Duin handling the basic template design for each school: colors, logos and layout.
"The biggest challenge for everyone involved has been finding the time to move content from the old sites to our new sites," Duin says. "Our days are too busy when school is in session to dedicate much time to this kind of project."
For the website switchover project, Duin received support from Beth Starr, assistant to Duin in the communications department and to Executive Director of Project Management Randy Miller. Miller says the website has been well-received, even though Duin is no long there to manage it.
"Nancy's final gift to us is truly one that keeps giving," Miller says.
THE NEW WEBSITES
The main website for the Lake Oswego School District is losdschools.org, and every school website can be accessed from there under the Select A School drop-down menu in the right top corner.
Here are all of the schools' direct websites:
• Forest Hills Elementary: fh.losdschools.org
• Hallinan Elementary: hal.losdschools.org
• Lake Grove Elementary: lg.losdschools.org
• Oak Creek Elementary: oc.losdschools.org
• River Grove Elementary: rg.losdschools.org
• Westridge Elementary: wr.losdschools.org
• Lakeridge Junior High: ljh.losdschools.org
• Lake Oswego Junior High: loj.losdschools.org
• Lakeridge High: lhs.losdschools.org
• Lake Oswego High: lohs.losdschools.org