Placement Wrap-Up

I’m not entirely sure how to begin this post, so I guess I’ll just dive into the deep end and hope I don’t drown! Although, as a side note, this would be a very bad idea in real life, considering my complete lack of comprehension of swimming techniques.

Anyway, over the past few days, I’ve been one of six individuals tasked with updating the school website. While my peers tackled 5-year-old school policies or 2-year-old club information, I was faced with the FIT and AP pages (below).

Overall, I quite enjoyed the experience. It was very interesting, albeit unnerving, to find out more about WordPress than I ever dreamed of knowing. I distinctly remember a strange plummeting sensation in the bottom of my stomach, accompanied with a faint feeling of nausea, that I usually associate with learning knowledge I thought I’d never know (or want to know). It’s likely that this will translate into a better handling of the mechanics of this blog, in addition to my personal blog (also hosted on WordPress).

In the beginning, I was terrified of accidentally deleting the entire website. Considering my less-than-stellar technological abilities, this seemed a likely prospect. It was dizzying to have so much control over something that was previously wreathed in bureaucracy and seemed so untouchable. At the same time, it gave me a bit of a start to realize that the school website was hosted on something as commonplace as WordPress. Honestly, I’m not sure what I expected – a group of coders hidden in Mackenzie’s basement who had created the website from scratch? It was difficult wrapping my head around the fact that, if I wanted, I could replace all the images on the school website with ones of my cat – and difficult preventing myself from doing just that.

On a more serious note, it was absolutely infuriating wrangling with the HTML code. Since I couldn’t find an “insert chart” feature when editing the FIT page, I dove into the technical aspect. Yes, I had to *deep breath* code, something I vowed to never do again after the ICS Turing fiasco of ’15. Although I have considerable experience with coding, having helped designed a stock simulator for RBC, I was completely unprepared for what faced me. As it turns out, the HTML code on WordPress doesn’t allow indentation. Never before have I worked with code that was so undeniably ugly. Simply looking at my work made me upset, especially the part that took joy in spacing my colour-coded pens exactly 2cm apart in the top left corner of my desk.

html code
Wow, look at all the indents that aren’t there (as a semi-coder, this disturbs me on a deep, psychological level)!

Furthermore, it was difficult trying to plan the project. Naturally, with six different minds, there were also six different ideas and plans of action when we first met up. However, after agreeing on a common goal (simplify and update), planning became much easier. We took a methodical route, looking at each page and their subpages in order, seeing which ones we could merge and which ones we had to update.

For instance, the teacher, department, and club pages all were in desperate need of updates. The FIT page appeared to have false or, at the very least, very misleading information on it. Furthermore, despite the many AP classes Mackenzie offers, they weren’t mentioned at any point throughout the website. Also, the images on the website’s home page were several years old.

Despite all that, there were some enjoyable aspects. I particularly liked the ease with which I could get the necessary information. I had to consult with Ms. Krasteva a few times when updating the FIT page, and appreciated how quick and clear her email responses were. Navigating WordPress was relatively simple, with only a few hiccups regarding administrative access.

Looking back, I think the project was a success. Not only is all the information now up-to-date, pleasing my inner perfectionist, but I learned much more about WordPress and websites in general. It also had the unintended effect of humanizing the school’s administration via a strange sort of companionship. They, like my group and I, dedicated hours to making sure that the school website accurately reflected the degree of excellence Mackenzie strives towards. My IDC group was just continuing that legacy, allowing us to relate to each other. Although I’m pleased that my mind has opened just a little bit more, a part of me will miss being able to grumble “Oh, admin,” after they strike out yet another prospective Lyon article.

But best of all, the website’s information finally accurately reflects the school, providing current information to both prospective and present students. This not only benefits non-IDC students, but IDC students as well. My group was able to gain in-depth knowledge of the workings of WordPress, as well as hone our problem-solving and collaboration skills. I’m not entirely sure what I could improve – all of my difficulties were technical, and may not apply to future IDC classes.

I have a very high opinion of this project overall. Without it, I honestly have no idea how long it would’ve taken for school administration to update the website. The other projects seem just as worthwhile too. I know some groups are working on revitalizing teacher websites, which will greatly benefits both students and teachers. Students will be able to navigate them with much more ease, seeing as they were products of their peers. This, in turn, will prevent students from giving teachers the “I couldn’t find it” excuse. I’m also fairly sure that another group is working on making quizlets for grade 9 literacy, which I believe will be immensely beneficial to that demographic. But most of all, I think it’d be a nice break for IDC teachers, since each group is fairly independent.

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