I have been running the house websites for a year as a proof of concept on how important they are to promote the house spirit within our school. They are used to inform students of upcoming events, sports rules, who won what, and how the points are going for the year. Many students have come up and said they have enjoyed jumping online after an event and seeing how wining or losing an event has had on the points.
One of the things has been having the time to develop these sites. Looking after four very individual sites has been a busy task. I did not use any Content Management System or online system either. All was developed and designed in Macromedia Dreamweaver, Macromedia Fireworks and Macromedia Flash (for those .flv files we all love)
Next year the house leaders will be looking after the content for there own houses. This poses a few technical problems, access to the web server, access in general, how can they post information online simply enough without having to know CSS or HTML.
I have looked at changing one of my five servers over to windows XP and installing WAMP on it as demonstrated at the TUANZ conference this year, built into it apache, mySQL, PHP, all up to date and integrated fine. For the house websites they will be running wordpress with customised themes for each house. This allows for house captains and leaders to put up there own content through online forms as well as I will look at putting gallery plugins on so they can upload photos to make things more interesting for the students.
I have now started on getting these up and running, and one of the problems I am now faced with is actually trying to find themes that are good. There are many themes out there but most of them are too simplistic, to be able to keep students attention, they have to be graphical and have colour. We are trying to promote house participation and house spirit, not "the monkey made me do it".