... just why they need one in the first place.

Without a web site you're a nobody. That well known fact has been common knowledge for a number of years already. Even companies with a consistent clientele and no need for marketing came to the conclusion that they just can't survive without a web site. So I guess that it was inevitable that schools as well would reach that same conclusion.

But once they decided to build a web site, schools found themselves faced with a very basic, even fundamental, question that for some reason they forgot to ask before deciding to build that site: What did they need it for? The most common use of the World Wide Web in educational settings is as a conduit: a link to information out there that someone thinks should be useful to a teacher or pupil. Yes, online courses exist that not only provide access to information but also organzine that information in a logical fashion, thus making resources available to pupils in a manner that leads toward real learning. But schools rarely have the resources for building courses of this sort. Instead they think they're fulfilling an important service by providing lists of links to information - links that, more often than not, are haphazardly organized, become outdated quite quickly, and weren't necessarily the best sources in the first place. Other, non-school, sites often have more extensive, better organized, and more frequently updated lists of this sort. But these lists don't take up much space on a school's web site, and the sites seem sparse and lacking. Something more is needed to justify the site's existence. And that goes a long way toward explaining why school web sites prominently display the school credo, carry a greeting from the principal, and are adorned with lots of poorly designed graphics that the pupils have been permitted to post. And for a few weeks, until the novelty wears off, the parents take a look at the site a couple of times and exclaim how nice it is that their kids' school has a site.

Go to: Fetch me a child of five