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Monday, April 26, 2010

Reflections on the 2010 Schoole Awards

by Katie Brosious

As the craziness of the past few weeks for the Schoole Awards subsides, I find that it's important to reflect on the past few months that were the Inaugural Schoole Awards.

In January, we started accepting nominations for the best school district websites. We received more than 1,600 total nominations. Districts began to get more and more excited about the contest, and we started receiving questions, suggestions, and excited messages from people making nominations. 30 districts with the most nominations moved on to selection.

In March, our Industry Expert Panel chose the top 15 school districts that would represent the Schoole Awards finalists. Ken, Steven, Tom and Shelly offered some great feedback about the sites, and were able to identify the district sites that represented best practices for district websites.

The last two weeks of the contest were quite a whirlwind! More than 26,000 votes poured in from across the country over a two-week span, and comments crowded the contest website. People left suggestions, questions, motivational messages and it was clear how much passion people shared for their school districts, regardless of vote count.

In the end, Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD came out on top, with Clear Creek ISD in a close second place. Friendswood ISD rounded out the top three. Districts have been receiving a ton of recognition, as the top three and the rest of the 15 finalists have received a badge to display proudly on their district website, and news sources like eSchoolNews and Education Week have featured stories about the Schoole Awards.

Some of the biggest and most common feedback points we can give to the semi-finalists is that use of Web 2.0 (and social media) along with great design and organization can really bring a site closer to its full potential. Design, organization, and interaction with the audience makes it easier for the audience to navigate the site and engages their attention throughout.

Some of the biggest questions and suggestions people had to improve the Schoole Awards was that student count should be considered. We listened to comments, answered questions, and are taking into consideration everything that happened this year in planning for next year's Schoole Awards. For example, we realize the need for categories based on student count, which will be one change made in next year's awards.

I'd personally like to thank everyone involved in the awards. All of your involvement, support, questions, comments, suggestions--you name it!--is what really made this year's contest a success. I look forward to all of your involvement in next year's awards, and beyond!

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