Looks like the Secret Decoder Ring I developed over the years in order to find all of the good stuff on the current Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) web site is about to be rendered useless.
State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice, in a January 21 meeting with ALSDE staff, said the first thing he asked when joining the ALSDE five years ago was whether there was “something we can do with the web site”. He has been an open critic of the ALSDE web site through the years and frequently shares that he doesn’t use it because he can’t find anything on it. (He should have asked me about my Secret Decoder Ring.)
Looks like he is closer to getting what he wants, though the public will have to wait a while longer.
Deputy State Superintendent Dr. Melinda Maddox said the launch date was set for somewhere around February 7. However, that was before the Snowpocalypse shut down the state for two days.
During the meeting, ALSDE personnel were encouraged to poke around and offer suggestions for improvement in the time before the site goes live. Testing it out is extremely important because, as Maddox stated, “When it goes live, it changes everybody’s business.”
This project has been a collaborative effort among the Alabama Supercomputer Authority (ASA) and a large team of ALSDE personnel, mostly from the technical side.
After many meetings with senior leadership staff and other users, a common vision emerged. The web site should put forth a positive image, focus on Plan 2020, have consistent branding across all pages, offer improved navigation, have improved search capabilities, and allow users to access the same information in multiple ways.
Phase I, where the infrastructure, a new home page and completely new navigation were created, is nearly complete.
Phase II, conducted over the next several months, will move sections over from the old site to the new site.
Some of the more interesting areas of the new site include the “Superintendent’s Corner” for Bice to share his thoughts and an alphabetical index to help users locate what they need. (Hooray!)
And, are you ready for this? A Data Center. A DATA CENTER! Director of Communication Dr. Michael Sibley called it “one-stop shopping for all of our data” because data is currently in various places across the site.
While content and design of the site is governed by standards developed by a local committee, department personnel will have latitude in determining how it looks and what information is displayed.
Stay tuned. Full roll out ahead.