Over the years I’ve tried to get our teachers and administrators to separate form from content. That seems to be a hard concept for some of our folks to grasp. That was obvious in the problem I encountered this morning.
One of my summer projects has been to create an online compendium of curriculum maps created by our teachers. I’ve tried this once before, with little success. That previous project was an ASP-based website which wrote the data to an Access database. The application itself worked fine, but it didn’t follow the correct format that we wanted to use for the maps.
Last year we took the documents and placed them into a flat HTML file as links. That worked OK as a quick fix, but wasn’t searchable, nor was it easy to update.
That brings us to this year. Initially I had planned a hybrid of the first two methods. There were be a form where teachers could upload their documents, then provide metadata that would be stored in the database. I was about to get started with this when I started looking at the types of documents that were being submitted. It was a real mish-mash. There were MS Publisher files, MS Word files, and even PowerPoint files. There was no consistency.
It was obvious that these teachers were only interested in how there documents would appear in their final form. They used whatever program would put their information in the format they wanted, even when that program wasn’t initially designed for printing, as in the case of PowerPoint. If printing was their goal, I wish that they had at least saved the documents to a consistent format, such as a writing them all to PDF files. Oh well.
I think I’ve abandoned my idea for creating yet another ASP application. That would take hours to create and get right, and we may have a simple, cheap solution at hand. I’m going to create a curriculum wiki and let our teachers contribute to that. It will take some training, but I think in the long time it will be worth it. We’ll see.