What do you do when the Big Cheese comes to your school? Our schools are always receiving their fair share of Very Important People (VIPs) from a lot of different locations: the school board, the community, etc. As someone who is responsible for the school, we do appreciate these visits even though they can take a lot of effort to get ready for!

Being visited by someone who is important is actually big news for your school. It means that the people running the show have not forgotten about you and perhaps you are doing something impressive enough that they wanted to come and see it in action for themselves. However, it is entirely possible that these types of visits could go unnoticed by many people at the school who were not involved in them as well as by the parents and guardians of the students who attend your school.

Walton County’s Bay Elementary school was facing this very problem. They were doing a good job and had received the notice of the school board. The other day the District Advisory Council payed Bay Elementary a visit. The quick-thinking webmaster at Bay Elementary snapped some photos of the visit and then posted them to the website in a home page cover story. Now everyone knows about the recognition that the school has received!

 

So here’s an interesting  question for you: when prom is coming up, how can you collect all of the different stories about prom and display them in one place on your school’s website? Prom is just one example of a school event that has a lot of different moving parts to it. Think about it: there’s a committee that has to choose a theme, volunteers to do decorations, nominations for king and queen, notices from the principal about appropriate behavior, cautionary reminders about the dangers of drinking and driving, and of course there’s the actual announcement of where and when the prom will be held. Do I even have to bring up the post-prom pictures?


Many different people may be creating a lot of different prom news items (called “posts” in the world of The Digital Bell school website system). There are many different places that they may show up on your website: the home page, the prom organizing committee’s page, etc. What you’d like to be able to do is to gather all of the posts that have to do with prom and be able to display them in one place for everyone who wants to see them.


Good news! The Digital Bell allows you to do this. When you are creating your news items about prom (posts), all you have to do is to initially create a new post type (let’s call it “prom”) that you’ll use to link all prom news items together with. Then on the school website page where you’d like to see all of the prom information displayed, all you have to do is add what we call a “post browser” which is simply a tool that will display all of the posts that have been identified as being a prom type of post. It really is that simple!

What is a web page without content? The answer is nothing, or at least really, really boring and not really worth taking a look at. That’s why it’s critical that every school website fill the pages on their school website with really great content. For those schools that have elected to use The Digital Bell school website system, adding content to their website couldn’t be easier to do.


Adding content to a The Digital Bell school website is a simple three step process. The first step is to select “pages” from the user dashboard. This tells The Digital Bell that you’d like to either create a new web page or edit an existing web page. Select the page that you’d like to edit (or define the new page that you’d like to create) and you are off and running!


Your next step is simply to tell The Digital Bell what type of content you’d like to add to your page. The list of things that you can add is almost endless: text blocks, photo galleries, links to other web pages, etc. Add away to your heart’s content.


Your final step is the easiest one of all: just add your content. Type it in or upload it and then poof, you’re all done. Creating great looking school web pages is really this easy!


Your school needs the awesome communication power that The Digital Bell can provide you with in order to communicate with parents, guardians, and your local community about all of the great things that are going on at your school. You can start using The Digital Bell for just $50/month. Go to thedigitalbell.com to find out how you can sign up today!

What’s the best way to help a student who finds themselves in desperate straits? A student who was attending Sickles High School family who were not wealthy to begin with had the misfortune to have a fire sweep through their house one night in November. Thankfully the family was alerted to fire and everyone got out safely, but the house was a total loss. Now a student who didn’t have much to begin with was left with literally only the clothes on their back.

The Sickles PTSA quickly became aware of this family’s plight. They sprang into action. What they needed to do was to get the word out to the Sickles community that one of their own needed help. The Sickles PTSA website was the perfect tool for this task. A post message was created to let everyone know about what had happened and what types of supplies were needed in order to help this family get back on its feet.

Because of the popularity of the Sickles PTSA website, the word went out immediately. As the money and supplies started rolling in, the PTSA collected it and made sure that it got to the family.

A month later, the family was in a new house and they had been able to piece most of their lives back together in time to be able to celebrate the holidays. The Sickles PTSA and their Digital Bell website had saved the day!

Using Page Previews

Jan 12 2016

When we are creating a new web page, it can be difficult to imagine how the web page is going to look. Sure, we know all of the various pieces and parts that are going to be placed on the page, but actually seeing how they all come together is another thing. What we really want to be able to do is to see what we have created. Well good news here, The Digital Bell comes with a page preview feature that let’s you steal a sneak peek at what you’ve created.

What you are going to want to be able to do here is to look at the page that you are creating without publishing it on your website (yet). Start by editing the page properties. To edit a page's properties, first click the "Pages" link, located in the top menu of your Digital Bell Dashboard.

Next, from your list of pages, locate the page you wish to preview and click the "Properties" button (gear icon) to the left of the page title. Clicking this button will take you to the properties form.

While viewing the properties form, locate the "Active?" option, and check to ensure it is set it to "Yes," then set the "Show In Menus?" option to "No," as shown in the example image. Finally, scroll to the bottom of the form, and click the "Submit" button. This will allow you to preview the page, but will not allow visitors to find and view the page, through your Web site's navigation menus.

Now all that you have to do in order to see the page that you are creating is to click the green "View on Website" button, located in the right margin. This button will open the page you are currently editing in a new browser tab, allowing you to see how the page will look to your Web site's visitors.

Your school needs the awesome communication power that The Digital Bell can provide you with in order to communicate with parents, guardians, and your local community about all of the great things that are going on at your school. You can start using The Digital Bell for just $50/month. Go to thedigitalbell.com to find out how you can sign up today!

 

If you are a teacher, then you’ve got a lot to say and sometimes your time in the classroom does not allow you to say everything that you need to get across to your students. What’s a teacher to do? Sure, you can create in-class handouts and distribute them; however, then you have the problem of students who were not in class on the day that you handed it out and students who lost their copy and would like another copy. There has to be a better way. It turns out that there is: using The Digital Bell system to place this information on a teacher’s page.

The GSL Solutions support team recently got a call from a teacher who was facing this very challenge. On this teacher’s profile page, she wanted to add a section where she could add a new post each and every day. These posts would be displayed and students could go back and see her older posts also. The GSL Solutions support team went ahead and created a new type of post that would allow her to identify which of her new content was a part of her daily blog. They also created a way for only these types of news items to be displayed on one section of her profile page. This change was done quickly and easily and she is now able to update her personal website every day with all of the information her students need!

Your school needs the awesome communication power that The Digital Bell can provide you with in order to communicate with parents, guardians, and your local community about all of the great things that are going on at your school. You can start using The Digital Bell for just $50/month. Go to thedigitalbell.com to find out how you can sign up today!


What are you going to do when your school’s Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter gets an award? The Altha Public School in Walton County, Florida recently sent members of their school’s FFA chapter to the 88th National FFA Convention and Expo. While they were there, the school’s chapter was recognized as being a National 3 Star Chapter, the highest honor the FFA can bestow upon any chapter.


Now this is all well and good, but who is going to know that the FFA chapter has been recognized with this award? Who knows, there might be some students who were thinking about joining the FFA and this could be just the thing to tip them over. The Altha Public School webmaster knew exactly what to do. Using The Digital Bell, she created a news item that described both the trip and the award. She then posted this to the school website. The website’s front page now had the story in big letters and a single click on the story would bring up all of the details. Finally, the FFA club would be getting the respect and attention that they deserved.


Your school needs the awesome communication power that The Digital Bell can provide you with in order to communicate with parents, guardians, and your local community about all of the great things that are going on at your school. You can start using The Digital Bell for just $50/month. Go to thedigitalbell.com to find out how you can sign up today!

 

We all like to organize things. If you give us something that is a mess, our hands are going to start twitching and we are going to want to "make it right." It turns out that the very same thing happens when we are dealing with school websites. A fully populated school website may have a lot of different pages. What this means is that there is a big unanswered question about just exactly where each of those pages should go…

Some website management systems allow you to create a page and then that’s it -- that page is going to be stuck wherever you put it. The Digital Bell website management system takes a different approach. The Digital Bell views the world in terms of pages and subpages. A subpage is any page that was assigned a "parent page" during its creation. When creating a page, the selected "Section" option will determine the "parent page."




The "Subpage Order" determines how your subpages are displayed in menus, such as the main menu, or the "Related Links" sidebar menu. The following tutorial will explain how to rearrange the order in which your subpages are displayed in those menus.

If after you create a subpage, you change your mind about where you want it to go (like we all do), The Digital Bell makes it easy to change things around -- there are just four steps to the process:


Step 1 - Click the "Pages" Link

Step 2 - Edit the Pages Properties

Step 3 - Rearrange Subpage Order

Step 4 - Click "Submit"


That’s it! What this means is that it is ridiculously easy to change the order of your pages and subpages on your The Digital Bell powered website. You no longer have to get it right the first time, just get it done and then go back and make it perfect later on!


Your school needs the awesome communication power that The Digital Bell can provide you with in order to communicate with parents, guardians, and your local community about all of the great things that are going on at your school. You can start using The Digital Bell for just $50/month. Go to thedigitalbell.com to find out how you can sign up today!

 

Over at the Franklin Park Elementary school they have been using The Digital Bell to run their school’s websites for some time now. The GSL Solutions support team recently got a call from the Support Specialist at the school who had run into a problem that she was not quite sure how to go about solving. Teachers were coming to this support specialist with formatted files (PDFs) and asking her how they could make them available to parents through the website. In the past, the teachers would have had to take time to make copies of each PDF and then send it home in each child’s backpack and hope that it made it to the parent.

The GSL Solutions support team loves questions like this because the solution is very, very simple. What they told the support specialist to do was to take each ot the PDF files that she had and start by uploading them to The Digital Bell’s Warehouse area. This is a section of the website where photos and documents that have been uploaded are stored. All a user has to do is upload a file once into the Warehouse, and there it will stay waiting to be used as a part of other pages or news items.

Once she had uploaded the files to the Warehouse, it was a simple matter to then add what is called a File Group to each teacher’s web page. This allows one or more files to be added to the file group to be displayed on the webpage. This will make downloading them easy and intuitive for parents to do. Problem solved!

How many times have you seen a webpage and thought to yourself “wow -- that looks great, I wish I was a fancy web designer who could create webpages that look like that…”? Well guess what? If your school is using The Digital Bell school website system, then you can easily create stylish pages that look like they were created by a professional.

The Digital Bell give you complete control over where everything on a page lives. Using a simple to understand grid system, you can map out the page that you want and then proceed to drop the content that you create onto the page into the right places. Sounds great, right?

So just exactly how do you go about doing this? All you have to do is to follow a simple 5-step process. It starts by having you locate The Digital Bell webpage you wish to customize, then click the Properties button (gear icon) to the left of the page title. In the page properties editor, scroll down to the "Page Layout" section.

Your next step is to begin creating rows and columns that will describe how you want your page to look. To add a row, click on the drop-down menu labeled "Add a row." This menu will contain several options, with the percentages denoting the column width(s) for that row. For example, the "75%/25%" option will create a row with two columns; one that takes up 75% of the row, and another that occupies the remaining 25%. Clicking a menu option will add that row to your layout. Multiple rows can be created by, again, clicking "Add a row," then clicking a menu option.

At any point in this process you can delete a row that you’ve created. To delete a row, mouse over the row you wish to delete. When the row is highlighted in red, click the row to delete it.

Now that you’ve designed how your page is going to look, it’s time to edit the content that you’ll be placing on the page. If you have created a new page, you will be forwarded to the content editor upon submitting the page creation form. Next, add Content Elements to your page, using the links listed under the "Add Content" heading in the right margin. If you are editing an existing page, click the "Pages" link, located in the menu at the top of your Dashboard, then open the content editor by clicking the Edit button (pencil icon) to the left of the appropriate page's title.

To begin assigning your Content Elements, click the icon representing your layout

Your final step will be to assign layout cells to content. Each one of the blocks of content that you create for the page that you just designed the layout for will have a small rows & columns graphi in it’s upper right hand corner. When clicked, the icon will expand to display an enlarged view of your layout. Click the section you wish to assign this Content Element to, then click the "Submit" button. That’s it! You now have complete control over exactly what each of your webpages looks like -- just like the professionals do!

Your school needs the awesome communication power that The Digital Bell can provide you with in order to communicate with parents, guardians, and your local community about all of the great things that are going on at your school. You can start using The Digital Bell for just $50/month. Go to thedigitalbell.com to find out how you can sign up today!

 

How would your school react if there was a person with a gun running around outside? In Tampa, Plant High School (http://plantptsa.com/) got the word that there was a person with a gun on the other side of the street from them and so they went into lock-down mode. This meant that Grady Elementary (http://www.gradytigers.org/PTA) that is located just down the street from Plant High School also had to go into lock-down mode.

The Grady website manager realized that he needed to get the word out to parents about what was going on. He went ahead and updated the school’s website with an alert message on the home page and a new page about the lockdown that he created. On the lockdown page, he added a link to the a story the the local TV station had just broadcast about what was going on so that parents would have the maximum amount of information.

When the event was over (no one was hurt), many parents contacted the school. They told them that they really appreciated being able to go to the school’s website and get the information that they needed about what was going on at their child’s school.

Your school needs the awesome communication power that The Digital Bell can provide you with in order to communicate with parents, guardians, and your local community about all of the great things that are going on at your school. You can start using The Digital Bell for just $50/month. Go to thedigitalbell.com to find out how you can sign up today!

 

When you are in charge of managing a school’s website, one of the most common tasks that you’ll end up doing over and over again is creating a new web page for the site. There can be a number of different reasons that you create a new page: a seasonal event (Christmas lunch!), a school event (dance on Saturday), etc. The Digital Bell school website system makes this common task very easy to accomplish quickly.

When you are using The Digital Bell to manage your school’s website, creating a new website can be accomplished in just four steps. First, you select the “pages” link to see a list of all of the pages that currently exist on your school’s website. Next you select the “Add New Page” button in order to tell The Digital Bell that you’d like to create a new page to be included on your website. Next you fill out the form data that tells the system what you’d like to have displayed on your new page. Finally, you tell the system that you are done by selecting the “Submit” button. That’s it!

Your school needs the awesome communication power that The Digital Bell can provide you with in order to communicate with parents, guardians, and your local community about all of the great things that are going on at your school. You can start using The Digital Bell for just $50/month. Go to thedigitalbell.com to find out how you can sign up today!

The GSL Solutions support team for The Digital Bell school website solution recently had an opportunity to help out an existing customer who was trying to make their school’s home page look even better. The customer had identified four different activities that were occurring at the school that they wanted to let parents know about. New pages had been created for each of these activities and now the user wanted to drive parents who visited the home page to go visit.

The user had four photos that they wanted to add to their home page in a single horizontal line. Their question to the GSL Solutions support team was how best to go about doing this so that the end result looked professional. The GSL Solutions support team was able to answer their question in less than 5 minutes!

It turns out that this is pretty easy to do. The first thing the customer had to do was to create a single text property that would contain all of the new information. Then they went ahead and created four text blocks within this text property. Each of these text blocks was given a name and had an image added to it. Finally, a short description of the activity was added. With some quick configuration of the text box’s properties the four new text blocks were configured to display in a single horizontal line. To see what the final result looks like, check out the Lehigh Acres Middle School website at lhm.leeschools.net

Your school needs the awesome communication power that The Digital Bell can provide you with in order to communicate with parents, guardians, and your local community about all of the great things that are going on at your school. You can start using The Digital Bell for just $50/month. Go to thedigitalbell.com to find out how you can sign up today!

Gosh, aren’t school websites great? Well, so ok, they’d be even better if it was not for all of the work that we have to put into creating them. One of the biggest tasks that we’re faced with is simply creating all of the web pages that we’ll end up putting our website content one. Creating each page one-by-one can take up a good part of the afternoon. Once this is done, the real work then begins!


There has to be a better way! It turns out that there is. The Digital Bell school website solution has the ability to add blank pages to your website in bulk. What this means for you is that if you know what pages you want to have, you can simply describe how the pages relate to each other and The Digital Bell will automatically create each of the pages.


The Digital Bell’s Bulk Add Form allows a user to create a page by entering the navigational path of the new page. What makes this feature even better is that if you already have existing pages that make up your school web site, you can simply add those pages to your list of pages, and the new pages that you are creating will be created and flow around the existing ones.


Your school needs the awesome communication power that The Digital Bell can provide you with in order to communicate with parents, guardians, and your local community about all of the great things that are going on at your school. You can start using The Digital Bell for just $50/month. Go to http://thedigitalbell.com/home to find out how you can sign up today!
Let's face it -- it costs money above and beyond what the state is willing to pay for a student to go to school. Schools charge fees to cover such items as textbooks, registration, activity and sports fees, driver's education, transportation and overdue library books. Depending on the school and the activities a student joins, fees can range from $100 to $500 per year.

Collecting these fees can be very difficult to do. In the Chicago school district, at the start of a school l year a single school district was owed $32,556.72 in delinquent fees and fines. By the end of the year, the debt had increased more than 10 times, to $331,067.03. Even smaller districts, where parents owe more than $35,000 in back fees and fines, are feeling the trend. These fees can be very hard for a school to collect. Can something be done to solve this problem?