Carroll schools show off revamped Internet site Pages designed to offer more and easier links

November 23, 1998|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

Six months ago, Carroll County school officials debated whether to take their once avant-garde Web site off the Internet.

Instead, they decided to redesign the site, and last week they unveiled what some believe will become a model for school systems throughout the nation.

What sets the Carroll site apart is that it helps users find information quickly and easily -- information that could benefit every Internet user.

The Homework Helper section, for example, provides links to home pages on the World Wide Web.

Each link contains a description written by Carroll teachers, telling Internet users what they will find at each site.

Some links, such as the description of a Leonardo da Vinci page, offer caveats. The description tells users that while the site is "an excellent summary of Leonardo's artworks, scientific investigations and life," it "is only for the really patient." The problem, Internet users are told, is that the site "contains many illustrations which unfortunately slows it down."

The Board of Education paid teachers to work an extra one to two weeks searching for, reviewing and evaluating Internet pages.

"There were very strict guidelines" about whether to provide a link to a given page, said Eric D. Conway, a former Sykesville Middle School science teacher who designed the school system's new Web site.

"I'm really excited about the possibilities," said Scott Reinhart, the county library's assistant director, who is responsible for automation, support and technical services. The Carroll library is the school system's Internet service provider.

"I think they've done an exceptional job," Reinhart said. "If it's not the best public school system Web page in the nation, it's got to be among the best."

Many sections, such as Homework Helper, were on the schools' earlier Web page but were hard to find, said Conway, who also helped build that earlier page.

"We wanted to have a more professional appearance and to get rid of a lot of worthless, unusable stuff" that had crowded the former page, Conway said. "We redesigned it so that it can be easily added to or expanded."

Also available for viewing are student-created Web pages on subjects ranging from astronomy to medieval weaponry.

"Every [student] site was done by one of my students" Conway said, referring to the students in his eighth-grade science class last year at Sykesville.

Conway -- who resigned in June to develop computer programs -- would give his students a choice of writing a report on a subject or designing a Web page about it.

The topic had to be something they previously knew little or nothing about.

Conway plans to give more Carroll schools a presence on the Internet and to update the home pages of those that already have sites. Using a school handbook, a newsletter and a few photographs, he can put together a simple Web site, he said.

The Web page address is http: //

Pub Date: 11/23/98

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