Building and Using Intranets and the Internet to Increase Access to Education Content and Information
Why Schools are Turning to Intranets and the Internet
For many primary and secondary schools, the Internet isn't something to consider for the future-it's a crucial tool being put to use today. Administrators and teachers in these schools see intranets and the Internet as a way to:
The increasing appeal of intranets and the Internet is evident in the most recent statistics on Internet use: Already, 82 percent of U.S. public schools have Internet access and that figure is expected to soar to 96 percent by the end of this school year. A third of all classrooms are Internet-connected and this year, for the first time, most (56 percent) primary and secondary level teachers have home Internet access.
- Increase student access-and the equity of that access-to instructional information and educational resources for better education.
- Increase staff and teacher access to real-time administrative data for decreased administrative tasks and costs and better decision making and efficiency.
- Increase the dynamic nature of community collaboration and better prepare for the future.
The most common use of the Internet by teachers and students is research. The challenge you face as a technology coordinator is how best to plan, deploy, and support school- or district-wide intranet and Internet integration. In this Solutions Series White Paper, you will read about how schools and school districts have overcome challenges and are effectively using intranets and the Internet to increase access to information, improve learning and administrative efficiency, and prepare for the future. This information will include:
Houston Independent School District
One of the largest districts in the country, Houston has standardized on an intranet that increases administrative efficiency through greater cost effectiveness and fewer tasks, while also boosting student access to educational information for better and more relevant learning. On the administrative side, Houston deployed network operating systems and proxy servers to allow more affordable intranet and Internet use. Specifically, Houston used the Microsoft® Windows NT® operating system and Microsoft Proxy Server software to eliminate the need to pay for every student and administrator to have a dedicated, and costly, Internet addresses. Only simultaneous connections need separate Internet addresses, saving considerable cost and administrative burden. The centralized features of the system allow managers to conduct much of their maintenance from the central office, further reducing the need for on-site staff at each facility. With greater access to information, Houston can make its online data the basis for interactive transactions that make life easier for everyone in the district. For example, student registration and scheduling used to take up to three weeks-and now takes two hours, thanks to the online student registration database. On the instructional side, students utilize the Internet to research information on the sights, sounds, history, culture and current affairs of various countries, then create Web pages to share their discoveries with other students. They use chat groups to communicate with students around the country. Teachers find the Web enables them to better track the information they're sharing with students and to get immediate feedback on what is being learned.
Lee County (Virginia) School District
Using their intranet and a well-planned Internet strategy, Lee County School District has improved administrative efficiency through greater cost-effectiveness and fewer administrative tasks. For example, the district used Microsoft Proxy Server to set up just one IP address along with private Internet addresses for each of its 324 client computers, vastly simplifying administration, reducing intranet traffic, facilitating the monitoring and blocking of inappropriate sites, and enabling administrators to more easily move computers among schools as needed. Lee is able to further reduce costs and improve efficiency by caching frequently used Internet sites on its intranet-so users can access the popular sites without going onto the public Internet and without stressing the bandwidth of the district's Internet connection. The District has also found a filtering and monitoring solution so that Lee County students only access appropriate sites.
This Cottage Grove Minnesota school became one of the first primary schools in the world to present Web sites designed by students on the Internet. It has now moved beyond that milestone with an enhanced solution that increases community collaboration and provides better preparation for the future. For students, collaboration means publishing Web documents and receiving almost instant feedback through e-mail - enabling them to encounter new ideas, increase their depth of knowledge and even change their opinions. For teachers, collaboration means publishing and sharing lesson plans on the Web, as well as fostering dialogs with students, other teachers, scientists, parents and others around the world. E-mail at Hillside provides a tangible link between the school and the community. Parents go to the school Web site to see what's being studied, when projects are due, and what activities are on the school calendar. They even send e-mail to their children to congratulate them on projects the children post to the Web.
You'll also read about the products and technologies that technology coordinators are increasingly using as the basis of these solutions, including the networking foundation, Internet servers, Web authoring, desktop productivity, browser and specially developed software. Although this paper won't cover all possibilities such as extranets, the paper does include pointers to resources, definitions and related information. You will also read about the factors to consider for your school district, and the help that's available to you, as you assemble these building blocks into a comprehensive solution for your institution to improve learning and efficiency.
Technology Coordinators' Requirements for Effective Solutions
Technology coordinators have found that effective Internet/intranet solutions enable affordable information publishing and access-and then go beyond those capabilities to also enable the use of that information in other applications that benefit their school or district. Technology coordinators are often concerned with how to provide the most relevant, up-to-date information for better learning, decision-making, and other needs of their school districts' teachers, students, and administrators.
Perhaps you're just getting started with your Internet/intranet solution, in which case this discussion can be a guide. If you're like some schools and districts, you may already have part of this solution in place, in which case this discussion can help suggest getting the most from your solution and continued development. These tips for planning your environment, planning your user experience, and rolling out a solution can help you enhance learning and efficiency while utilizing-not losing-the valuable assets you've already assembled. Here is an overview:
Planning Your Environment
Step 1: Planning for Web Publishing and Collaboration
The Internet and intranets can offer your school district new opportunities for sharing information and collaboration to improve student learning and increase administrative efficiency. Most Internet/intranet solutions can handle data on a publish-and-view Web server, but this isn't enough for schools and districts that want to implement solutions that allow teachers and administrators to access student records and other information, or that allow students and teachers to communicate and collaborate online. To accommodate multidirectional communications (database access for administrators such as student records, chats such as virtual study hall sessions, Web pages such as student reports published to the Web, and searches such as for student research) a solution must integrate these flows on a broad range of servers. Those can include data servers that store and deliver data such as student records, mail servers that handle e-mail, and transaction servers that process transactions such as administrative requests for ordering supplies or requesting sick leave.
To enable this integration without draining your technology staff, you need tools and Web pages that are easy to use and that incorporate their own intelligence, so they can automatically update themselves, retrieve data from other servers, and so on. Active Server Pages offer this functionality and more. Open database connectivity is crucial to linking the various databases, applications and Web pages upon which new uses of the Web depend. These capabilities are at the core of delivering appropriate learning content.
Complicating your situation, you may already have older networking technology and multiple systems in place, even if you haven't yet adopted an Internet/intranet approach. So, you may need to integrate new solutions with existing and older legacy systems.
Planning Your User Experience
Step 2: Making it Easy for More People to Publish and Share Information.
For many schools, content publishing has been the primary use of the Internet-often in the form of students sharing a project on the Web. As Internet/intranet use grows, your content development needs change in key ways. For example, the population of users authorized to create and to publish content to the Web is growing all the time. Once the province of specialized employees, Web publishing is now a responsibility for many of the school districts' teachers, administrators, and students. They need to create and publish content without learning new tools, which means that Web authoring and publishing need to be integrated with their familiar desktop productivity applications.
"Teachers have been quick to adopt the new software because we've shown them how much more productive it can make them in their administrative task and in their instruction," says Bonnie Knight, technology director for the Rockdale County (Ga.) School District. Students and administrators also can share, utilize, and deliver this information in more ways than just receiving an e-mail message or pulling down a Web page. Students and teachers can share and discuss information in live chat sessions with their counterparts in other schools or districts. They could even hold virtual meetings that include shared documents and files as well as audio and video. And they can access these multiple types of information from multiple locations-as well as their e-mail messages and Web pages-through a single, simple, convenient client interface.
"The purpose of a network isn't so everyone can share the same application," says Fred Goldberg, district technology coordinator for the Manhasset (NY) Public School District. "Particularly in schools, networking is about connecting people, about fostering collaboration among students, teachers, and administrators. We had to look for the operating system that provided the best environment for collaboration and sharing resources."
Rolling Out a Solution
Step 3: Planning for Rollout and Continuing Maintenance
Rolling out a solution isn't just a one-time concern-it includes your need to ensure reliable, secure access to information and applications on a continuing basis. As Web sites grow, as more information is published, and as more applications move to the Web, technology professionals need new ways to keep their Web sites up-to-date and running smoothly. This is especially true for schedule and class information that can change on short notice. Two tools that can help are HTML Templates that make it easy to drop information into pre-formatted Web pages and Active Server Pages that automatically update themselves according to the rules you set for them.
Step 4: Planning for Centralized Administration
Deployment also concerns the ability to customize your client software easily and roll it out broadly from a centralized location, without having to physically touch dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of machines. With both software deployment and ongoing system maintenance, a key concern is being able to handle an ever-growing system without needing an ever-growing technical staff. Solutions that automate much of their own maintenance and that allow you to handle the rest of the job easily and centrally, are crucial.
Step 5: Planning for Security
Ongoing security is another concern as you deploy and maintain your solution. In an educational Internet/intranet environment, security means more than keeping files secure. It means being able to create zones of security (for example, for the administrative offices or for a computer lab) within the broader network, and to assign specific users to appropriate levels of access. As a result, security becomes a tool to allow more important and productive uses of the school-district intranet. For example, a student's grades might be posted on a school's intranet-but only the student, his parents, and his teacher can access and view the grades, and only the teacher has the higher security authorization to enter, change, or delete grades. With proper security, school districts can even use the public Internet for collaborative and other applications that span two or more locations.
How Technology Coordinators Meet These Needs
Here are some solutions for the key Internet/intranet issues that technology managers in schools and school districts have addressed.
Planning Your Environment
How do I move the administrative and instructional applications that my school already uses to a school-district intranet, where they'll be easier to manage and accessible to more of my users? A network operating system foundation, an Internet server, Web server authoring and management tool, and database and systems management tools each play a role in moving applications onto the intranet to increase the efficiency and timeliness of information access. Technology coordinators have found that the combination of the Microsoft Windows NT Server operating system and its built-in Web server-Internet Information Server (IIS), Microsoft FrontPage® for Web server authoring and management, and a range of Microsoft BackOffice® family products-such as Microsoft SQL Server™-fit the bill, with each allowing you to integrate existing databases wherever they reside on your network. For example, putting a student registration database on a Windows NT server with IIS and SQL Server can give all authorized users convenient access to up-to-date records information and significantly reduce the time required for student registration. That in turn frees time for additional instruction.
On the administrative side, many tasks formerly accomplished via paper copies-such as distributing memoranda and routing forms-can be moved to the Web, as well. Instead of printing, stuffing, addressing and routing memos, administrators can create documents and use the Publish function in Microsoft productivity applications to post them to the Web. As needed, they can be posted to secure portions of the site that require authorized access authenticated by the security features of Microsoft Windows NT. For example, an administrative office can post school policy information on the intranet. The district-wide telephone directory-a vast and immediately out-of-date publication for a large school district-can be moved to the Web, making it always available and always up-to-date. Online forms can be downloaded from the intranet, then sent via e-mail to the appropriate department once completed.
As you create custom applications for your intranet, Microsoft Visual InterDev® Web development system, included in Microsoft Site Server, provides an integrated development environment for embedding logic and transaction management in your applications.
Real School Story: Return on Investment in Houston
In the Houston Independent School District, for the first time, teachers now have immediate access to student attendance records, test scores, previous grades, and course rosters-enabling them to tailor their instruction to the individual needs of their students. Planning at Houston enabled an integrated solution that accelerated registration and streamlined administrative processes. The district's Windows NT Server foundation and an internally developed Web-based database application running on IIS, SQL Server and FrontPage Web site creation and management tool allows classroom instruction to begin as early as the first day of school. That was an impossibility in the days when registration was accomplished by hand, according to Dr. Rod Paige, Superintendent of Schools.
Beyond freeing up several weeks of instruction time, the database application gives teachers immediate information about students as they transfer from school to school within the district-an important concern in a district with a 40 percent annual mobility rate.
"Once our teachers and administrators know who their students are, they're much better able to plan for their instruction," observes administrator Susan Sclafani, Chief of Staff for Educational Services. "In the past, it was a real challenge to gather the information you needed about the children in your classroom."
How do I provide appropriate security for my intranet? Security is an obvious concern for your intranet-and it becomes an increasingly important concern as your intranet expands to include increasingly important and sensitive student records and administrative data. The authentication, authorization and domain-level capabilities in Windows NT Server allow you to create zones of security (for example, for an administrative office or a computer lab) within the broader school or district network, and to assign specific users to appropriate levels of access. With the Proxy Server component of Windows NT, you gain powerful firewall capabilities that enable you to use the public Internet for collaborative and other applications that span two or more schools in your district.
In addition to controlling access to your site, security means ensuring that students and other users don't misuse the Internet access you provide to visit unauthorized sites. Microsoft Proxy Server provides powerful monitoring and filtering capabilities to support this requirement as well. Because Proxy Server integrates tightly with Windows NT Server user authentication, it enables network administrators to restrict access by user name or by group affiliation. This means a school district can easily restrict access to certain protocols or from certain student groups. In an extreme situation, school administrators could easily turn off student access to the Internet altogether and make it available to the teachers only.
Real School Story: Monitoring Internet Use in Lee County
Administrators in the Lee County, Virginia School District use Microsoft Proxy Server to both monitor use and block out inappropriate sites. "To start with, we just monitored what was going on," explains Alan Hughes, Microsoft Certified Product Specialist for the district. Originally the information was logged into a text file that was loaded into a database that Hughes reviewed weekly. Then Hughes began to develop a list of IP addresses and domain names to which they could deny access. The system uses Hughes's own automated program, which collects inappropriate site addresses to be filtered out and automatically loads them into the Proxy Server Registry every night. Other school districts successfully combine Proxy Server with software such as NetNanny, NetPartners' WebSENSE, or Educational Technology's Chaperon to maximize site filtering. NetNanny information can be found on the Web site http://www.netnanny.com/; NetPartners product information can be found on http://www.netpartners.com/ and Educational Technology's Chaperon can be found on http://www.edu-tec.com/
Planning Your User Experience
How do my users publish content to the Web? Microsoft Windows® operating system, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office and the BackOffice family make it easy for end users and groups to utilize existing documents, create new content, and create and manage intranet sites. For example, a teacher might write an assignment in Microsoft Word and then use Word's Publishing function to post the information to the Web. Microsoft FrontPage makes it easy to enhance the basic content for a superb look on the Web. The teacher could insert a link to a specific Web site, for instance, even if he only knows the URL for that site, and the application can accommodate the HTML coding by itself.
Microsoft Windows NT Server provides the platform for basic publishing by providing a Web server, content indexing and authoring tools, and multimedia publishing right out of the box. Microsoft Site Server extends this functionality by providing a comprehensive environment for enhancing and deploying intranets. Features in both Microsoft Access 97 and Microsoft SQL Server make it easy to integrate databases into intranet sites.
Real School Story: Students, Teachers Publish to the Web in Hillside Elementary
Hillside Elementary in Cottage Grove, Minnesota finds that students love the ability to publish Web documents and receive feedback through e-mail, according to sixth grade teacher and Internet coordinator Chris Collins.
"The kids who actually communicate with their readers become incredibly motivated to improve their writing," Collins says. "Once they publish a report, it doesn't end there; they see learning as an extended process, not something you learn a piece of then walk away."
Teachers are learning the benefits of Web publishing, too, Collins adds. "Now, a teacher has the opportunity to construct a lesson plan or a project in Microsoft Word, make it look cool in the Microsoft FrontPage Web authoring tool, and present it on a Web page. All of the sudden we have teachers buying their own computers. They're taking this stuff home with them. I have never seen that before."
Real School Story: Putting the Library on the Web
In 1995, Lee County (Va.) schools had to find a highly cost-effective way to automate all of the school libraries in the district. Lee's solution: publish the public-access library catalog on the Internet and the school's intranet. This way, the schools could still use their numerous older personal computers (mostly 486/33s and 486SX computers with 8 MB of memory) to run a browser to access the school libraries even though the machines couldn't handle client software. This setup enabled them to provide access to the system with most of their existing PCs. "
Any computer that can run a browser can have access to all 13 of our libraries from anywhere in the school system," notes Alan Hughes, Microsoft Certified Product Specialist at the district.
How do I help students, teachers, and administrators to communicate and collaborate over the intranet? With Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft Outlook® messaging and collaboration client, users can tap into rich, reliable messaging, integrated calendaring and scheduling, and powerful information management tools. Tight integration with Microsoft Office makes it easy to collaborate on documents and share the results on the school's Web site. Students can even create their own Web pages using Microsoft Office as the final stage in a class research project.
Innovative, real-time collaboration is enabled with Microsoft Chat and NetMeeting® conferencing software, which allows students to exchange comments, and even files, with students elsewhere in the district or around the world. Microsoft Exchange and Outlook also enable easy-to-use electronic forms and routing, and simple workflow tools.
Real School Story: From Web Publishing to Community Building in Houston
The Internet figures prominently in the instructional aids available to students in the Houston Independent School District.
"Giving students access to the whole world of information certainly energizes them to move forward and do the type of in-depth research that is most rewarding," says Sharon Valear Robinson, principal at Houston's The Rice School. "Children are able to share and learn a great deal more in a way that they have not been able to do before. But students aren't the only ones who benefit. Efficiency has greatly increased in both learning and teaching. Teachers are able to really track the information they're sharing with students and to get immediate feedback on what's being learned. Best of all, the technology helps build students and teachers into a community."
Real School Story: Creating Collaborative Excitement in Hillside
At Hillside Elementary in Minnesota, collaborating via the Internet gets students excited about learning. "One student said what he liked about the Internet was that it gave him a window to see what it's like to be an adult," says teacher Chris Collins. "People were actually listening to what he had to say. Students find that whole communities of people exist with similar interests who communicate through the Internet - as equals."
Teachers are also discovering the power of network communication. "Now there's teacher-to-teacher dialogue, teacher-to-scientist dialogue," says Stephen Collins, who helped design the intranet.
"That's a real shift from the process where you look something up in a textbook or a manual, use it in the classroom, and you're done," Stephen continues. "With Microsoft Internet technology, there is a real exchange going on within the classroom, between schools and the community, and with people all around the world every day. Ten years ago that was unimaginable."
Rolling Out Your Solution
How do I handle intranet management with a limited technology staff? The Windows Zero Administration Kit and Internet Explorer Administration Kit make it easy to preconfigure and lock down desktop operating systems and browser settings. That addresses one of the chief problems otherwise requiring remote maintenance: inadvertent or deliberate tampering with desktop system settings, particularly when several students alternate use of a single machine, such as in a computer lab or classroom.
On the server side, Microsoft Systems Management Server provides centralized, remote software distribution and desktop management capabilities, so both your installation and proactive system management can be handled with minimal need to send technicians to touch each machine. Systems Management Server even allows your help desk staff to take over the desktop of a remote user when that user calls in with a problem. Windows NT Server and Proxy Server reduce costs in a variety of small ways that add up to big savings. For example, the software allows dynamic Internet protocol (IP) addressing without having to worry about subnet masking or other problems. That has avoided the need for several dedicated people just to manage IP addresses. With the centralized domain administration of Windows NT Server, there's no need for on-site staff at each facility to add and subtract users - it's all managed from a single location. And Microsoft Site Server provides complete intranet life cycle management, including features for content deployment, management, and advanced usage analysis.
Real School Story: Windows NT Supports Lower Support Costs for Houston
Administrators in the Houston Independent School District credit the central management capability of Windows NT Server for helping to keep down costs, especially support costs for onsite maintenance. With a district stretching across 312 square miles, those repair trips could easily consume the full day for a $35,000-a-year technician. Windows NT has also reduced training costs for support engineers, by about 70 percent because they are now trained and certified on fewer systems.
"We knew that administration would be easier with Windows NT but, frankly, we were surprised by how much easier it became," says Daryl Ann Borel, assistant superintendent of Technology and Information Systems for the district.
Real School Story: Simplifying Internet Administration in Lee County
With its 13 schools, the Lee County School District may be more modest in size than Houston, but it too is seeing big savings from the use of Windows NT Server for its intranet. Originally, Lee County was encouraged to set up a Class C address for every school and an IP address for each client computer. The District resisted this notion because it would create more traffic, complicate network management, and make it virtually impossible to monitor and block access to inappropriate sites.
With Microsoft Proxy Server, Lee County was able to set up just one IP address along with private Internet addresses for each of its 324 client computers. This configuration simplifies administration of the WAN and enables administrators to move computers from school to school without having to reconfigure them each time.
Key Components of Internet/Intranet Solutions
Here's a closer look at Microsoft products for your Internet/intranet solution. On the Server Side Microsoft Windows NT and Internet Information Server (IIS) offer a superb solution for networking and the Internet. They transform the Web into simply another part of your school's operating system. Windows NT offers comprehensive, usable security in the form of a robust security model. Key services in Windows NT Server also include Index Server, Windows NT Serer 4.0, Terminal Server Edition, message queuing, and transaction processing.
Easily create great-looking Web sites. Include powerful Web functionality in your sites by adding Java applets, ActiveX® controls, and browser plug-ins. Support for databases and Active Server Pages allows you to include database content in your intranet easily and lets users perform dynamic database queries on your site, giving them direct access to the information they need. Manage your intranet your way. Comprehensive management tools let you quickly build and maintain well-organized intranets. View your site's navigational structure, directories of information, hyperlinks, hyperlink status, or all files at once. Plus, flexible collaboration features such as Tasks lists and remote and/or local authoring let you work with others to create and manage your Web site. Integrate what you already have. Seamless integration with existing content and with desktop applications you already have like Microsoft Office 97 makes you productive from the start. Also, strong browser integration makes it easy to customize and view your Web site's content. Microsoft Office is more than a great suite of productivity applications. Now, it allows your users to publish information online as easily as they now print and save documents. Every Office 97 (or newer) application has built-in support for viewing and creating HTML, so users can create rich content for the Internet or an intranet using familiar tools. Office 98 for Macintosh provides the same functionality for Macintosh users.
- Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS), the only Web server integrated into Windows NT Server, is powerful enough for the world's biggest Web sites, yet easy enough for schools or districts to set up in minutes and immediately improve their information sharing. Innovative Web publishing features, customizable tools, and new wizard technologies unique to Internet Information Server 4.0, make Windows NT Server with IIS the easiest way to publish information and share it securely over your school or campus intranet and the Internet. IIS also includes everything you need to deploy reliable, scalable Web applications on Windows NT Server. By integrating directly with other Microsoft BackOffice applications, Internet Information Server is the best platform for the new generation of Web applications. With the powerful management tools in IIS, you can easily set up Web sites, manage content, analyze usage patterns, and improve your site as it evolves.
- Microsoft Transaction Server (MTS), part of Windows NT Server, is a component-based transaction processing system for developing, deploying, and managing high-performing, scalable, and robust enterprise, Internet, and intranet server applications. MTS combines the flexibility and low cost of desktop applications with the mission-critical transaction processing features normally found in high-end mainframe systems. MTS 2.0 is a built-in feature of Windows NT Server 4.0. In addition, existing licensees can obtain MTS through the Windows NT 4.0 Option Pack.
- Microsoft Proxy Server is an extensible firewall and content cache server, providing Internet security while improving network response time and efficiency for schools and districts of all sizes. The product is redefining the firewall and content caching categories because it is the first product to include both capabilities. Proxy Server acts as a gateway with firewall-class security between a LAN and the Internet. The product also blocks access to undesirable sites and provides other easy-to-use management features. It works with existing networks, including IPX networks, and supports several Internet protocols and services.
- Site Server allows users to easily publish information by providing a structured content submission, posting and approval process. Users can easily search and find information in a variety of sources including Web sites, file servers, Microsoft SQL Server and ODBC databases, and Microsoft Exchange folders throughout their school or campus. Site Server can then deliver relevant information to users through personalized Web pages, Active Channels™ and e-mail, and enable administrators to analyze use of the site to maximize its effectiveness.
- On the Client Side Internet Explorer 4.0 is an open, integrated suite of Internet software that includes the industry's premier Internet client and basic collaboration solution (including e-mail, conferencing, broadcasting, and Web authoring) for end users and IT managers. Internet Explorer 4.0 achieves Microsoft's vision for integration of the Internet and the PC. The end result is a dramatically easier and more personalized way for people to get the most out of intranets and the Internet. And with support for every major platform - including Windows 95 or Windows 98, Windows NT, Windows 3.1 and the Macintosh - technology managers only have to support one browser across all their platforms, making administration easier and less costly.
- Microsoft FrontPage 98: Web Authoring and Management Solution combines ease of use, innovative imaging tools and design assistance, and seamless integration with the Microsoft Office family of applications to deliver a complete solution for creating and managing great-looking intranets without programming. That makes it a great solution for teachers, students, and administrators who don't have the time to learn HTML and the intricacies of Web programming.
Implementing Your Internet/Intranet Solution
60 Minute Intranet Kit
60 Minute Intranet Kit makes it easy to use FrontPage 98 and Office 97 to create a fully functional intranet in less than one hour. You can download Microsoft's free Building an Intranet in 60 Minutes White Paper, obtain free predesigned intranet solution templates and drag-and-drop modules, take a guided tour around a sample intranet, and read more about intranet benefits. All of these kit contents are available free, online at the Microsoft Office Web site.
School Web Template for Windows NT Server
The Microsoft School Web Template is the perfect complement for technology managers seeking to quickly build an intranet based on Windows NT Server, IIS and FrontPage 98. The Template provides education-specific templates and wizards, and easy Internet and intranet publishing. The Template includes easy but powerful Web-browser based tools for the school environment and ensures that your Web site is tailor-made to be managed with Microsoft FrontPage (included with your Windows NT Server 4.0).
Easy Setup - With the automated setup process, just add your school name, colors, and any pictures or images and you have a Web site. The template features school and faculty announcements, a school calendar, instructional resources, and class-by-class pages where the teacher, curriculum, and homework can be easily posted for each class.
Security - The School Web Template includes specific functionality and security levels for administrators, teachers, students, and parents. It's fast and easy to use the template to post and manage school information and to restrict that information to the specific areas you have chosen. It is also simple to make the information only accessible to specific readers that you have chosen.
Classroom Connections - Students, parents, and educators can stay on track and up-to-date when they use the class-by-class page, which communicates instructor information, course descriptions, thematic units, teacher messages to parents, and day-to-day assignments.
Calendars and Communications - Quickly post the school menu, meetings, or events on the intranet and/or Internet with the built-in calendar tools. Enter your event information and it does the rest. Download the Web Template and Getting Started Guide for Windows NT Server and IIS 4.0. The two files total over 10MB, so plan your download accordingly.
Internet Explorer Administration Kit (IEAK)
IEAK makes it easy for technology managers in schools and colleges to customize and deploy Internet Explorer to students, faculty, and staff. The Internet Explorer Administration Kit allows you to:
For IEAK information and to download IEAK, go to the Microsoft Internet Explorer Administration Kit Web site.
- Customize the look of Microsoft Internet Explorer with your school logo.
- Create a single, one-click installation package of all Microsoft Internet Explorer components, including Microsoft Internet Explorer, NetMeeting conferencing software, and Internet Mail and News for distribution or download.
- Preconfigure and control options for users within the school or university.
- Manage browser settings and user options on an ongoing basis from a single, central server location within an intranet site.
Certified Solution Providers
Microsoft products and tools make it easier than ever to implement your Intranet/Internet solution-but you don't have to go it alone. Many independent Microsoft Certified Solution Providers specialize in the technology needs of schools and educational institutions like yours. They can be invaluable in helping you with any or all phases of your implementation, from evaluation and planning through maintenance, training, and support. Solution Providers are also located throughout the United States and around the world. To find a Microsoft Certified Solution Provider near you, go to our Partnering Opportunities Web site.
Resources and What You Need to Know
Definitions and More Information
To learn more about technology planning in school districts, definitions of technology terms such as extranets, Microsoft BackOffice and more, check out the following resources:
To see an online guide to children's safe use of the Internet and to learn about Internet safety see: A guide to your child's safe use of the Internet
- Microsoft in Technology Planning
- http://www.techweb .com/encyclopedia/
- Enhancing Your Network with BackOffice Products
Whether you plan to phase in your intranet over time, expect to expand your school or district sometime soon, or just want to keep your options open, Microsoft solutions can be distributed across several servers, so they can scale to meet growing needs.
Where do you have to start with Windows NT-based solutions? When using a personal computer as a server, the type of CPU and amount of RAM you choose can affect performance. The amount of RAM you need depends on several factors, such as the number of services you plan to run. Your Web server should be able to accommodate more users when they are running sessions that are not CPU intensive, such as electronic mail (e-mail), Telnet, and FTP. Sessions that are CPU intensive include those running common gateway interface (CGI) scripts, making database queries, and downloading HTML files.
For most educational institutions, here are Microsoft's minimum hardware recommendations for an Internet/intranet server based on Windows NT Server and IIS:
CPU 200 MHz Pentium
RAM 64 MB
Free hard disk space 2gb HD
Monitor Super VGA
CD-ROM drive 6X
Microsoft Windows NT Server operating system administrators can choose from a comprehensive array of support options. Besides a suite of support options, you have access to these online services:
- Built-in help. Just click on the Start button and then click Help. Try the new Answer Wizard that lets you ask questions in your own words.
- The Internet and online services. Get up-to-date support information from the Microsoft Web site and major online services. You'll find FAQs, a searchable knowledge base, software library files, discussion threads, chats with Microsoft support engineers, and more. The Microsoft Download Service contains sample programs, device drivers, patches, software updates, and programming aids. Fast tips. Get quick answers to common technical problems by voice or fax through this automated toll-free service.
- Microsoft product support services. If you need immediate assistance with a critical problem, or you can't locate the answers you need through our other support services, AnswerPoint Priority Comprehensive support provides technical assistance for Microsoft Windows NT Server through a variety of fee-based options.
- Microsoft AnswerStation. Our technical support software lets you establish remote support links with specially equipped Microsoft engineers.
Microsoft provides a variety of training opportunities in self-paced and instructor-led formats. The Training and Certification Web site lists the available training options for each product. From the Training and Certification Web site, you can find out about the various types of Windows NT Server training and choose the one that suits your needs.
One of the best ways to learn about Microsoft products and technology is to attend a Microsoft Official Curriculum instructor-led course at a Microsoft Certified Technical Education Center (Microsoft CTEC). These instructor-led courses are developed to provide a hands-on classroom environment with labs, lectures, and supplemental materials optimized to complement the in-classroom learning experience. Microsoft Certified Trainers teach these classes.
Before you put your Web site on the Internet, test your design. You will want to test for the following items:
Proper permissions set on downloadable files
Test Web pages on more than one Web browser
Functional links on all pages
Proper display of graphics and text at different resolutions and color depth
Proper operation of scripts
Test all gopher menus
Download and check all FTP files
Simultaneous connections to a server
Windows NT Planning Guides
Still worried about deployment issues? This series of planning guides will give you peace of mind. The Windows NT Planning Guides let you take advantage of Microsoft's experience in beta testing, evaluating, piloting, and deploying new technology. They help you to review your current environment, define your functional and business objectives and standards, and design, evaluate, and test your plan. The guides can even walk you through rollout and transition, including development of a training plan.
Microsoft Site Builders Network
The Microsoft Site Builders Network might help your students or staff who are creating interactive, high-traffic, revenue-generating, and just-plain-beautiful Web sites. It's your one-stop, direct link to a wealth of technical information, products, technologies, services, and support that makes it easy to incorporate the latest Internet technologies, such as new HTML extensions, ActiveX controls, and Java applets.
Additional Tools and Resources: Contact Information
To learn more about Microsoft solutions for your school, go to the Microsoft in K-12 Education Web site.
E-mail System Deployment
Building Internet/Intranet systems
Tuan Nguyen is K-12 Education Marketing Manager for Microsoft Corporation's Southern California District. He may be reached by telephone at (310) 449-7408 or by e-mail at [email protected]