Ask any school administrator and they’ll tell you that a strong program requires involvement from parents, teachers, staff, and students. The easiest way to achieve this is with a school website.
The reality is that parents’ night and large group meetings at the school just aren’t as convenient as they used to be. Families lead busier lives these days. If you’re an administrator, you need a school website hosting service to make community engagement easy. At the very least, your website will be a content management system (CMS) with some useful information on it. But at its best, it could be a bond that ties your community together.
So…what do you think is important when searching for providers that offer Web hosting for schools? We’ll help you find the answer to that question in this article.
What to Look for in a Host
For starters, you must absolutely select a host that’s compliant with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The privacy of student records is serious business. The Federal government has very strict guidelines about what student data should be accessible to whom. FERPA is no joke. As a school administrator, you know that. Make sure your Web host does, too.
With your FERPA fears subdued, you’ll certainly want a host that offers excellent data storage and protection. You should be able to find providers that can give you maximum bandwidth and transfer capabilities, allowing for fast navigation and unlimited data storage. Security, reliability, and backup management work to keep your data safe. Additional offerings to look for from a host include performance monitoring, regularly scheduled maintenance, and multiple-level redundancy.
When shopping for the best host, it’s important to compare costs. Rather than maintaining your own server, having a third-party host support your site allows you to save money on internal infrastructure and other IT costs. And be sure to select a hosting provider that has a high E-Rate, which is the common term for the Universal Service Fund’s School and Libraries Program. The highest E-Rate in the industry is about 97%. The higher that rate, the greater the discount available to your school.
What Else Can I Get?
There are many additional features that providers of Web hosting for education may offer. Among these are data security and student privacy, as they are legitimate concerns that can help protect your community. Web design is also a major factor to consider. Select a provider that offers Web design and support services in addition to hosting. That way, you can get a help with the appearance of your site if things aren’t working properly.
You might want look for a host that lets you include options such as photo albums to show off school events, or portals that connect parents with one another. Modern classroom websites and let you share documents, event calendars, and student assignments. Explore your options and compare your alternatives before choosing the host that’s right for you.
More Technical Considerations
In addition to network redundancy, nightly backups, and around-the-clock monitoring, there are a few other boxes that you’ll want your school’s web hosting provider to check off. See if they can offer you a pre-build consultation to discuss your content concerns. You have a vision; they have the know-how to make it happen. Make sure that both of you are on the same page. If a particular host doesn’t provide the technical features you need, keep looking. Make sure that your host offers sites that automatically adjust to screens on smartphones and tablets, so users can stay on top of school news and activities from the palms of their hand. Keep that in mind and demand mobile-responsive design capabilities from your host.
Any teacher knows that the backbone of a strong classroom is parent involvement. When the parents can support the teacher’s vision at home, the child will be more successful in the classroom. Today, that vision cannot be delivered effectively in an hour meeting at the beginning of the school year. Instead, a persistent conduit for communication needs to be in place. In other words, you need a school website to connect teachers, students, parents, and staff. So do <em>your</em> homework and find the school website hosting service that best supports your goal.