Friday, September 04, 2009

Reviewing APS MIddle School Websites: Volume IV, When Will This Damn Thing Be Over?

Alright! I'm rested up and psychologically ready to handle the trauma of looking at more bad websites. But who knows? Maybe there's a hidden Ninth Wonder of the World out there. Join me as we machete our way through the thicket of dross on the off chance a "Lost Horizon" of Internet Nirvana can be found.

Oh, and one more thing. I've made an executive decision and we're speeding this thing up. No more long, long digression into "what Scot thinks" about various APS middle schools. I promise! Strictly the website from here on, objectively rated in terse, concise prose.

Well at least that's the idea. Otherwise this series will go on past the next U.S. presidential election.

School 13. Jimmy Carter Middle School: Rating 2.00001 (but possibly going up)

JCMS looks like they're ramping up a new web look. Unfortunately it appears to have made up about 3 inches up the ramp. I like the clean look, with easy to read pages/text. At the same time, a clean, easily read list of JCMS teachers indicating:

Click teacher name in BLUE to send an email message.
should probably have more than one teacher in BLUE. Just thought I would throw that out there.

I will say this though: the JCMS Athletics page is off to a rousing start. Six or seven stories already this year. You might not know what the Hell any teacher at JCMS is doing or when the homework is due, but you sure as shooting knowing that JCMS had a flag football team from 2000-2005. Why? Because those were the good old days. No word/page on the MathCounts or Chess Club teams way back in the Golden Era of 1993.

14. John Adams Middle School: Rating 2.5

Opinions differ on website development. Some folks still like frames. Others like long single pages (I fall in this category). Another popular variant is the use of left side links. The JAMS website is perhaps the strongest proponent of the left side links method in the Universe. Link upon link upon link here. As you may suspect, however, about 90% of the links go to essentially empty pages with titles like "Principal's Novel".

On the plus side, there is a nascent "Homework Page" with classroom information. On the negative side, many/most of those teacher's pages are blank. This could be a good page/idea if JAMS teachers populate it well. Anybody wanna bet me a few bucks on whether the teachers will "populate it well"?

Amid the 917,439 different links on the left side, one goes to "Textbooks". On this page is a strange little statement:

Most students will not be using textbooks for homework, so they will not be required to checkout textbooks.

My terse, concise response to this statement: What the Hell? I'm no fan of textbooks, but why won't most students be taking them home for homework? Is this because the school has some avant-garde, progressive post-textbook homework regimen? Is JAMS kicking out the 21st Century homework JAMS with Internet-based homework assignments? My guess is, sadly, no.

15. Kennedy Middle School: Rating Kind of Blue, Very, Very Blue, Emptily Blue (i.e. .00003)

Like Jackson MS reviewed earlier, KMS relies on the sterile, horrible "Manzano Cluster Family Connection" (Suggestion: do not put the word "Cluster" on a very bad, complex're just asking for nickname trouble when you do). The funny thing here is that KMS first has a deep blue page with only the name of the school on it for about ten seconds before forwarding to this Cluster(insert monosyllabic word of your choice here) of a "Family Connection". I honestly clicked on the KMS site twice before even seeing anything but the Blue Screen of KMS Death. And it was still better than the "Manzano Cluster Family Connection".

16. Lyndon Baines Johnson Middle School: Rating 2

LBJMS seems to prefer the long, single page method of website design. In this I feel solidarity. And, like many of these middle school sites, you get the feeling a new webmaster was "hired/volunteered" to maintain the site, and this new person has an energy that's been missing from the website for some time. Evidence of this is that a thin surface of links/updates exist, but with nothing archival going on.

In addition to this thin veneer of website energy, the school also has a new principal. Outside of that I pretty much can't tell you ANYTHING about LBJ Middle School. I don't even SEE a teacher page, now that I think about it. Maybe I just couldn't find it. Maybe long, single webpages are a really bad idea...or maybe THIS long, single webpage is a really bad idea. At the same time, I have some uncertain, solidarity-inspired expectation that this site might be updated fairly often. Just a hunch...a naive, quite possibly wrong hunch.

17. Madison Middle School: Rating Disney (i.e. Less Than Zero)

The MMS homepage utilizes state-of-the-1992-art mouse trails. Really. Mouse Trails. *#)*^$# Mouse Trails. And all the page has is a logo with the word "Magic" on it. Oh, and the word "Enter", which one can mouse trail their way to in order to enter the site.

Sorry, I'm not entering a site via Mouse Trails and Magic. This page gave me an immediate headache. If I wanted Disney I'd go to DisneyWorld or DisneyMarvel Comics or something. Middle schools who want to evoke a feeling of Disney should be closed down immediately and their physical plants razed and sown with rock salt.

I realize this opinion may not be shared by everyone.

P.S.: Mouse Trails? Really?

McKinley Middle School: Rating 2.75

McKinley truly has the barebones makings of a decent website. It just needs to fill out the information on each of its left side link pages. The faculty page, for example, pretty much just has a bunch of names/departments on it. This is the Internet, not the phone book. There should be like, linky know? And worse than the phone book you don't even get phone numbers without going back to other pages on the site.

Still, I think with significant cultivation the McKinley site could be much better. Wasn't this one of the better maintained APS websites way back when (i.e., 2000 or so)? Did somebody retire, get a better job, lose the energy to keep updating the site as the soul-crushing District exerted its inexorable weight of ennui on the poor, formerly energetic webmaster?

Okay, I took one more look at the site. It's pretty damn uninformative.

Conclusion: The Story So Far

I came into today's blogpost fully expecting a closing burst of energy resulting in finishing this damn reviewing thing. And I end up only in the "Ms". This realization is almost as deflating as visiting these various websites. Speaking of realizations, I also know pretty much nobody is still reading these reviews, and that nothing substantive will result from this "startling expose (accent missing)".

But none of those easily ascertainable facts are stopping me, folks. Come next week I'll have even more unread, unreadable reviews of unreadable sites. Join me if you dare as we dare to venture into the 2nd half of the alphabet.

In the meantime, have a good three-day weekend. We'll need all the rest and mind/body reconnection we can get before once again diving into this virtual muck.


Anonymous said...

But, Scot, we out in your electronic fan club really do hang on your every word.

There's an important message in your review; plus it's fun to read your take on things.

Anonymous Fan

SydTheSkeptic said...

Still here. Waiting for a 5+

Hopeful Haley said...

I'm still here, reading every word and hoping that the board members and investigative reporters I sent your reviews too will DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS.
I know I know...

Natalie said...

The irony is...
If someone actual took a virtual shovel and actually virtually mucked these stalls (pun intended)we would possibly all be quite virtually engaged in a social network on APS. (What would they call it? "APS Twotters"? 'Cause, you know, Twitter is taken... [Pun, um, oh, nevermind...])
Keep up the fine work and have a great break. Mine started with a new hairdo and filet mignon.
I recommend it for everyone!

Abuelita2 said...

Yes we are reading them! And enjoying them. And learning from them.

Anonymous said...

Keep writing and I will keep reading.

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