5 things Every School Website Should Have

Recently Belinda from TechZoo updated our school website and she has designed a number of school web sites for schools around the world.  We were having a discussion about the must haves on a school website and these were the 5 essentials we thought every school website should have.

1:  Welcoming and Friendly Design:  Ultra cool should not be your aim on a school website.  Prospective parents and students want to feel a welcoming and friendly vibe - bright colours and lots of photos of opens spaces and happy students.  First impressions last.  Certainly an ugly cheap looking front page website will do you just as much harm if not more.

2: Current and Up-to Date info:  If your last newsletter was posted when Noah built an Ark or the canteen list is out of date visitors will instantly gain a sense of neglect and mismanagement.  Remember a website today is your schools biggest marketing tool.

3:  Who is who?  Don't go overboard here - Who is your principal?  And what are their thoughts?  Maybe a group photo of your staff and any other major roles that parents will regularly want to contact beyond their child's classroom teacher.

4:  Classroom Blogs:  Any web designer worth a pinch of salt should be able to set up simple blogs for areas of the school that want them.  Prospective Parents really get a feel for what is happening at the coal face from these.  Especially if there is some stuff there from students.

5:  Good Photo's:  I can't believe schools invest tens of thousands on resources and can't get a decent digital SLR to take photos that look as great on a website as they do in reality.

Finally make sure your school has easy to find contact info and maps.

If you follow these guidelines you should have yourself a pretty good website and don't hesitate to contact Belinda if your school needs a cheap and effective website.  It's what she does for a living. 

What do teachers want from an iPhone, iPad App

We are currently in the process of creating an iPhone / iPad app for Edgalaxy so that we can better share our content with our mobile audience. 

And I have one very simple question for the teachers of the world.  What do you want from an app?  Please leave us a comment below and hopefully we can incorporate some ideas into our app.



Great websites for exploring CAD (Computer aided Design)


High school

students will really enjoy the opportunity to create something in 3D on a computer from an original idea and a 2D image.  Of course there is always Google Sketchup for a great entry point into computer modelling and design but here are a few other alternatives to try.

Technology Student:  Drawing tutorials including buildings are one part of this huge site that includes graphic design, physics, structures and simple machines.

Small Blue Printer:  Build your own house plan, view it from above, take a 3D walkthrough and printi it out.  Simple drag-and-drop online software.

3D models of Great Buildings:  Hundreds of free 3D walkthroughs of architectural computer models including landscaping and interior decoration.  Also include real photos and floor plans of famous buildings from around the world.

Visual communication and design resources:  Click through guide to design principles, design elemnts and drawing systems.

Design a 3D house with Frank Lloyd Wright online

Design a house in 3D with Frank Lloyd Wright! On this Web site, you can design a house, walk through it in 3D, then share it with the world. You can also learn more about architecture, past and present, and explore Frank Lloyd Wright's life and work. You'll need the free Shockwave plug-in.

Access it here

Huge bank of Graphic Organizers for teachers and Students

I use Graphic Organizers in the classroom all of the time to get my kids to view issues from a range of perspectives or help them stay focussed when working on a task.  I'll add them to our useful links section also.  38 downloadable PDF Files for you to print and Download Check it out here.

Interactive Science Simulations

  Your kids will love exploring the numerous scientific simulations located here.  There are a range of simulations fro all fields of science.

Livebrush - An Excellent Free Drawing App

What is it?  Livebrush is another product built on the amazing Adobe AIR platform which is offering some pretty amazing stuff at the moment in terms of multi platform applications.  Livebrush is a little bit of Corel Draw, Painter and Photoshop. I stress the term a little bit of each as they are industry standard programs in their own right and livebrush offers elements of these. 

Livebrush is a free motion-based drawing tool that lets you create beautiful graphics in few strokes. The beauty of Livebrush is that you can create something amazing in no time if you are not an artisitic genius.  Yet the artisitic genius has plenty to explore here to.

What’s unique about Livebrush is the brush tool that responds to the speed of your mouse movements. The program also ships with a wide range of brush styles and decorative patterns to help you to create impressive drawings in no time – just select a particular style and add some random strokes to the drawing canvas.

Livebrush is as a line drawing tool on steroids. There are an overwhelming number of options available for your brush strokes including a standard set of 100 styles and decorators. Each of these can then be customised and tailored to suite your style and project.

You control the speed, angle width and other parameters for your brush stroke. Detailed colour options are available to really enhance that drawing.

There is a Paid version of Livebrush Pro that offers a little more for $10 bucks but there is plenty in the free version for your students.

How Can I use this in the classroom?  The great thing about livebrush is that you can create something pretty amazing if you are a novice.  I would highly recommend this to high school students to create backdrops to print and web based activities and even explore some fashion opportunities of livebrush.

Anyhow livebrush is available here. Below is a video of what it can do and I would love to hear some feedback from those that have used it.


Logo Design 101

What is it?  Symbols and Logos are a major part of our lives, industry and culture.  The Logo Design Toolbox has over 60 great examples of classic logos and discussion on what makes them so effective.  There are also guides and tutorials for budding graphic designers on how to create your own logo that will really stand out from the crowd. 

How can i sue this in the classroom?  This would be a great resource to use with teenagers to discuss why image and branding is so important from both a marketing and cultural angle as well as from a design perspective to discuss the effectiveness of colour, text and imagery coming together to create a clean design that really reflects the product or person it stands for.  As I mentioned also there are some great step by step video tutorials which recreate some famous logos for Photoshop users.