When teachers and administrators are confronted with the challenge of their school selecting a new website tool to be used by their school, more often than not their hearts sink down to their shoes. Based on past experience, they believe that they are facing a steep learning curve and even after they put the time in, the school’s website is going to be so hard to use that the few times that they try it will eat up a big part of their day.


I can’t disagree with this thinking. That’s the way that things used to be. Now that GSL Solutions has introduced its The Digital Bell school website system, getting started using The Digital Bell is very, very easy. When a teacher wants to create their very first webpage, it’s just a simple four step process. They sign in and select to edit their profile, next they edit their role -- what will they be doing on the web site and how much do they want to be able to modify, they then select “create page” and finish things up by selecting “publish page”. That’s it! Once done, a teacher now has their very own webpage published as a part of the school’s website.


Your school needs the awesome communication power that The Digital Bell can provide you with.You can start using The Digital Bell for just $50/month. Go to www.thedigitalbell.com/buy-now to find out how you can sign up today!

Let’s play a game. If a congresswoman wanted to pay a visit to one of your schools, just exactly how would she go about setting up this appointment?

In the old days, someone from her team would make a call to the school, trying to get ahold of the principal. If they were able to connect, then they’d discuss dates and times and then the congresswoman’s staffer would have to write the date down and make sure that it got on her calendar.

With a little luck the principal would have written down the same date and would have added it to the school’s calendar. There are a lot different things that you have to hope go correctly to get this set up.

A much better way to go about doing this is for your school to start to use The Digital Bell school website system. Over at the Blountstown Elementary school, (http://www.blountstownelementary.org/) this is exactlty what happened.

Congresswoman Graham’s team went to the school’s website and filled out the request for more information form. They clearly identified the date and the time that the congresswoman wanted to visit the school. The school staff were then able to see the request, confirm that the requested time slot would work, and get back to the congresswoman’s staff with a confirmation. Now that’s the way to schedule a school visit!

 

I’ve got a quick question for you: what is the most important meal of the day? If you said “breakfast” then you are correct. If you are a child attending school, then the second most important meal from your point of view is lunch! Does your school provide both of these meals to your students? If you do, then how do you go about planning your meals and telling parents what is going to be served on what days?

GSL Solution’s The Digital Bell school website system has a built-in school breakfast / lunch scheduling program. This unique application allows school district staff to create a catalog of foods that they will be serving at their schools. Each item in this catalog has a tracking number so that you know exactly how to go about ordering it from your food supplier.When it comes time to build your monthly school lunch schedule, all you have to do is to select foods from your catalog and assign them a date to be served. We’ll even keep track of what you’re offering and make sure that it meets the district and federal guidelines!

How much money does your school raise every school year? I would suspect that if you checked, you might be surprised at just how much money comes into the school each year. There are candy sales, school gear sales, PTA memberships, etc. In the state of Florida, over $190 million dollars flows into schools each and every year. Now for the big question:  how does that money come in?

If your school is like most schools, then the money comes in as nickels, dimes, and dollar bills.  As all of this money comes it, it needs to find its way to the right person who has access to the school’s checking account who then has to go to the bank over and over again to make a deposit. There has to be a better way! It turns out that there is -- use GSL Solution’s The Digital Bell school website system.

If your school uses The Digital Bell school website system, then you have access to a built-in money collection system. All that your school has to do is to complete some paperwork to set up a payment processing gateway and then you’ll be able to process both credit and debit cards online. The money that comes in will be deposited directly into your school’s checking account no matter what bank you do business with. Yes, it really can be that easy to collect money at your school!

One of the things that a school website does best is to tell visitors when things will be happening in the future. The best way to keep track of all of the different things that are going on is to show the visitor to the website a calendar.

With a lot of school website systems, there is one calendar and so if an individual teacher wanted to show her students and parents what was due when, then he or she would be out of luck.

However, for those schools that have selected GSL Solution’s The Digital Bell school website solution, individual customized calendars are supported. A teacher at University High School (www.uhstitans.com) sent a request to The Digital Bell support team asking for help in creating a class calendar.

The team showed her how to create a new Post Type for her calendar (this allows her to create a calendar that will only have her information on it), and then added a calendar-layout post browser to her Algebra 1A page so that her calendar entries would be visible to visitors. To wrap things up, the support team linked her to The Digital Bell User Guide article for creating new calendar events/assignments - http://docs.digitalbellcms.com/add-a-class-calendar-event.

What’s the best way to tell the world that your school is full of champions? If you are Blountstown Middle School (http://www.blountstownmiddle.org/), this is the time that you take to the web to get the word out. Recently Blountstown Middle School's boys' and girls' basketball, football, and volleyball teams all became Panhandle Conference champions.

As you can well imagine, there is a great deal of pride at the middle school because of their students' athletic accomplishments. They want to show to let everyone know what a stunning accomplishment this is. Blountstown Middle School has selected The Digital Bell (powered by GSL Solutions) to power their website. This made it easy for them to quickly create four separate posts to celebrate each sport’s accomplishment. Images were then added to each post and displayed on the website’s home page. This was simple to do, but the results speak for themselves! Way to go Blountstown Middle school athletes!

 

I believe that we can all agree that the reason that children go to school is so that they can learn more. However, there’s another side to many students’ school experience: sports. At your average high school there may be many different sports that are in full swing at any time during the year. Every school has a responsibility to make sure that students, parents, and the rest of the community know what sporting events will be happening and when they’ll be happening.

If you want to do a good job of communicating a lot of sports related information then you’re going to need a sports calendar. It would be even better if this calendar was online so that your parents and students could easily easily get access to it. If your school uses GSL Solution’s The Digital Bell school website management system, then you have access to a high quality, fully capable athletic calendar.

With The Digital Bell’s athletic calendar you can create separate sets of events for each sport. This will also allow parents who are viewing your calendar to turn the display of date for various sports either on or off. Each entry for a sporting event allows the specification of event type, location, and additional details. The Digital Bell then allows a full season of events for a given type of sport to be printed out.

Your school needs the awesome communication power that The Digital Bell can provide you with.You can start using The Digital Bell for just $50/month. Go to www.thedigitalbell.com/buy-now to find out how you can sign up today!

 

Today is a great day, but tomorrow is going to be even better! The reason that I know that is because I've had a chance to look at my school's calendar and I can see all of the really cool stuff that will be happening both later on this month and going on into the future. Every school website generally has some form of a calendar system; however, schools that have elected to use GSL Solution's The Digital Bell website system have access to a powerful event management system.

The Digital Bell's calendar system exists to display events. You can create an event type ("Prom", or "Football Games", or "Teacher In-Service Days", etc.). Then you go ahead and create events by specifying a date and what will be happening on that event. Don't forget to assign an event type to each event that you create.

Once you've created events, you can go to any page on your school's website and tell it to display a calendar. You then configure the calendar and tell it what event types it should display. At the bottom of the calendar, a colored box will be displayed with the name of each event type that is being displayed on the calendar. You can individually select these colored boxes and turn the display of a given event type on or off. It's really that easy to be able to tell everyone what will be happening at your school in the future!

What did your school do this year to celebrate the Chinese New Year that just occurred? If you are like most of us who don’t live in China, probably not much! However, over at the Blountstown Elementary School (http://www.blountstownelementary.org) they decided to go all out this year.


Their Chinese New Year celebration consisted of having the children create traditional face masks to welcome in the new year, create hand-held signs with the different animal symbols for each of the the years, and celebrate with traditional Chinese food. The best part of this program is that they had a photographer on hand to capture all of the festivities. These photos have now been uploaded to the school’s website and parents and guardians can now take part in the festivities which will live on long past the start of the new year!

“I’d like to go to my child’s football game because they are a football player / cheerleader / in the band, but it’s an away game and I’m not really sure where it’s at.” How many times do you think that parents at your school have said this to themselves? Although most of what goes on at a school happens at the school, there are a surprising number of events that occur someplace else. When this happens, you need to be able to tell parents where to go.

If your school has decided to use The Digital Bell school website system, then you are in luck. The creators of The Digital Bell have worked with an online mapping company, Esri, and they have built into The Digital Bell the ability to easily both create and display maps on your website.

What this means for you is that you can easily attach content to a map coordinate, creating what is called a point-of-interest (POI). Your content will include a title, and short description for your POI. While creating POIs, you can choose from a list of pre-made pin images and colors that are used to identify the location.

Maps presented to your visitors are capable of sorting POIs, using Labels that have been associated with your map-specific Posts. Visitors can also search by Zip Code and distance, to locate a specific POI. Your maps also contain a list of POIs, sorted by title. Users can easily change the map background between Street View, Topographic, or Satellite using the included drop-down menu.

What this means for your website visitors is that they will never again have to wonder where an off site event is taking place -- now your website can show them!

Is there any part of the high school experience that is more important than getting your picture taken in your cap and gown? I mean these are the pictures that your parents will proudly show to just about anyone that they can find -- “look, my child DID graduate!” Now, getting busy high school seniors to show up for their cap and gown photos is another story…

Over at Bethlehem School (http://bhs.hdsb.org/) they’ve come up with a novel way to get the word out about the time and date for cap and gown photos. They placed a news item on their web site and then they set it to display on the homepage also. They’ve configured this news item so that it will be automatically removed after the photo date has passed. Not bad -- the problem has been solved almost automatically!

 

Woops! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written something, reviewed it, and patted myself on the back for a job well done only later on to have someone tell me that I got some important fact wrong! If you had created a flyer for the children at your school to take home to their parents when you make a mistake like this, then you are in a bit of a bind -- look’s like the principal is going to have to step in and get things corrected. However, if your school is making use of The Digital Bell school website system, then you’re in luck.

Things that exist online can be easily and quickly changed. To edit the content of your Post, begin by clicking on "Posts" in the top menu of your Digital Bell Dashboard. Locate the Post Type which contains the Post you would like to edit, and click on "View the list of posts." Find the post that you want to edit, easily make any changes that you need to, hit the “submit” button, and nobody will ever know about your mistake!

One of the biggest questions that any school or PTA is always asking is: “Where did the money go?” If a school has selected to use The Digital Bell as their school website solution, then they have the ability to securely accept payments via their website. The GSL Solutions support team got a call from a The Digital Bell customer the other day who had been happily using Paypal to take payments from parents; however, their treasurer was leaving and she was taking her Paypal account with her. The school wanted to know if they could have the money that came in via the website deposited directly into the school’s checking account.

The GSL Solutions support team was able to report that yes, this was possible. The steps were pretty straightforward - some paperwork had to be completed and a financial background check had to be conducted. We got this taken care of for them and later on we got a note from their new treasurer who wanted to say thanks -- transferring money from Paypal all the time had been no fun!

Does your school have a Twitter account? Do you tweet? More and more, schools are using this fast growing social network to quickly communicate with both parents and guardians. However, there is a problem with all of this tweeting...it goes away too quickly. When someone is following a lot of people on Twitter, your tweets can get lost in the feed your parents are getting every day.

What you need is a way for your tweets to get a second life. One way to do this is to merge your Twitter activities with what is going on on your school’s website. If your school has elected to use The Digital Bell school website system, then you are in luck. The Digital Bell provides full integration with Twitter. The tweets that you send can be displayed on your website in real-time. This is a feature that Bayshore Elementary school (http://bay.leeschools.net/) has taken to heart. Every one of their tweets now also shows up on their school’s website home page. Additionally, when they are creating a news item, they can select to post it on Twitter at the same time that they post it on their website. Yes, Twitter may one day rule the world, but your school’s website will be there to help it along!

 

Not all news is the same. Some news is more important than other news. You can pick the event that is occurring at your school: the 5th grade banquet, the middle school dance, or the high school homecoming week events. There are a lot of different stories that may be posted to your school’s website talking about what is going on. However, some of these stories are more important than others and you’d really like to make sure that people can see them. What can be done to make this happen?

If your school has selected The Digital Bell school website system, then you are in luck! The Digital Bell comes with a feature called Feature Groups that allows you to see the forest for the trees. If you have a bunch of news items that all have the same type ("Homecoming"), you can pick and choose a subset of these news items and pull them into their very own feature group "Homecoming Dance".

Once you’ve done this, you can then add an image gallery-style Post Browser anywhere on your website and just those important news stories will be displayed. You’ll still be able to get to all of the other stories, but this way you can help your website visitors focus on what’s really important.