Successful schools recognize that student engagement is strongly related to successful academic achievement. School websites – at least those that listen to what students want from a website – can strengthen a student’s sense of connection and belonging.
The most obvious way to achieve this goal is to involve students in the website development process. Schedule brainstorming sessions or create student focus groups that allow them to identify the content that is most useful to them.
Here are some other ideas for promoting student engagement through your website:
Students want to locate the information they need quickly with easy, clear navigation. The simpler your site navigation, the more straightforward it will be for students to help themselves, and develop the skill of self-advocacy.
Create a Dedicated Students Section
To facilitate access to information and resources that are critical to student success, your website should include a section dedicated to students with the following information:
- Enrollment and registration
- Class schedules
- Bus schedules
- Lunch menus
- Online forms
- Academic calendar
- Student handbook
- Teacher and staff directories
- Links to teacher class pages
- Course selection guide and academic department information
- Academic programs and support services (i.e. Special Education, Honors, Dual Enrollment, Advanced Placement, Gifted and Talented, and Summer Learning).
- Assessment information for the AP, SAT, and ACT
- Online learning management system
- Student information system housing student records and transcripts
- Library/instructional media
- Graduation information
- College & career readiness information (i.e. links to resources such as Naviance, College Board, local community colleges and universities, and financial aid).
- Athletics and clubs/organizations
- Student and school safety
- Community resources
Make it Mobile Friendly
Since most students use mobile phones and tablets to access school website information, school websites must be mobile friendly and cross-browser compatible. If your site isn’t mobile friendly, students will have to rely on a laptop or desktop PC to access information, or they will avoid accessing it altogether.
Create Teacher Class Pages
Teachers play a central role in engaging students in learning. Teacher class pages are an ideal space for assignments, homework, and supplemental course materials. They also serve as resources that students can use to invite their parents to participate in their course work. Teacher class pages should include the following information:
- Course syllabus detailing course competencies, course content, and timeline for instruction.
- Class calendar
- Course materials that are distributed to students on a daily basis (i.e. lectures, assignments, etc.)
- Homework section that provides additional guidance and support to students requiring assistance.
- Links to supplemental, in-depth information related to course content.
- Classroom blogs written by students that capture classroom life in real time.
- A section for parents that clearly communicates the role they are expected to play in helping their child achieve course competencies.
- Course announcements
- Teacher contact information
Create A School News Page
A news page allows students to share their point of view and showcases experiences that are of interest to the student body. It can feature topics such as current events, student activities, pop culture, editorials, etc. Consider adding the following to your news page:
- Student experiences in a variety of subject areas and classrooms across campus.
- Highlights from athletics and student clubs/organizations.
- Student spotlights that recognize individual students for their achievement and/or contributions to your campus and community.
Integrate Your Site With Social Media
Students spend a lot of time on social media platforms such as Instagram and YouTube. Connect your site to posts on these platforms on topics such as a sports team’s winning season, honor roll members, homecoming, community service, reminders, or news of the day. Consider giving ownership of this task to students as a strategy for creating a sense of connection among the student body.
Electronic Fee Payment
Payment systems such as E-Pay, PaySchools, and E-Funds allow for convenient electronic payments that can be integrated into a school’s website. They eliminate the need for cash or checks for payment of lunch fees, registration fees, school activities, etc. Since payments may be made using a checking account or debit/credit card, they allow students to make payments themselves and, in the process, more closely engage with the school.
What can you do? To learn more about how 360Civic can help you make continuous improvements to the design and content of your school website, contact us.