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Intranet update: Mrs. Maitra & Staff section

posted Jan 6, 2009, 5:33 PM by Eddie Woo
Another solid work session leads me to today's update, which gives me an occasion to explain some backstory for the development of the new intranet site.

There was a lengthy period of time when I was simply investigating options for what kind of system I wanted to use to implement the new site network. I had already decided to use a pre-packaged CMS, due to the time constraints placed upon me. 

(To give you a sense of what I mean, a CMS built from the ground up would have taken me a whole year of full-time development to get up and running. Since my main role is as a classroom teacher, I received an allocation of time where I wouldn't be teaching in order to develop the intranet. My allocation of time last year was 1 day a fortnight, which has increased to 2 days a fortnight this year - you can do the maths. It would have taken me a ridiculous amount of time to get anything done on that kind of scale.)

I investigated lots of options, like Joomla, MediaWiki, LightNEasy, Mambo, Pheap and Sitemasher. I tried out most of these, setting up basic site networks on each of the platforms to get a feel for them and see what they were like to actually handle. For a variety of reasons (which I am open to discuss if you want to talk to me), I eventually settled on Google Sites.

When I was doing the early development, I chose to begin by creating and filling the Staff section of the intranet, since it was the most well-structured to begin with and required the least amount of work to re-organise and port over to the new system. Except for a few small areas, I virtually completed the Staff section before work on the rest of the sections even began. This was to pave the way for aD's involvement with the Faculties section.

This was the main reason why I have been focusing most of my efforts on the Co-Curricular section during these holidays. But the latest updates I have done have been in the Faculties and Staff sections.

The reason why I ventured into the Faculties section is because Mrs. Maitra made a special request that I personally transfer over her old intranet site into the new system. I now see why. Over the years, she has gathered a massive collection of files and resources, and at first it took me some time to sort out how they should be arranged. 

As a side note, I never studied chemistry, but flicking through some of the presentations revived some of my interest in science. I've always loved studying the sciences, but as most of you know, I was much more of a humanities-driven person during my HSC. Still, it's great that subjects like these are offered in high school; I truly believe they help us to understand and appreciate the world that we inhabit.

Anyway, the important part is that Mrs. Maitra's entire catalogue of modules, past HSC questions and other assorted materials are now available on the new intranet (somewhat more clearly organised than it was before, I might add!).

As for the staff section, most of you probably have enough brains to deduce from the front page of the old intranet that the staff have an electronic system for editing the daysheet. Instead of walking down to Ms. Wratten's office and adding in a notice by hand, any staff member can edit daysheets weeks in advance from any computer in the school.

It took some doing, but I've now created a new daysheet system to go with the new intranet. It is just as easy to use as the old one, but since it is part of the new system, it provides full revision history for every edit of every daysheet. That will save us from diving into the backups when someone accidentally overwrites notices they weren't meant to!
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