ezTask Blog: All things technology!
Doing Much with Much Less: Technology and Budget Strain
Nov 28 2012 - 10:20:00 am
In the United States, we’re incredibly blessed with the opportunity to receive a quality education. Each child spends his first 18 years learning the fundamentals, and then he is free to dig even deeper by attending a university. Given that education plays such an enormous role in the development of young minds, it is critical that teachers are properly equipped to educate students. Engaging classrooms with enriching activities can make all the difference in fostering curiosity and active education.  

Budget cuts mean lean enrichment
Unfortunately, however, budget cuts and a lack of funding can make providing such an environment challenging for both school districts and teachers. Hard choices have to be made about what gets cut; often this means arts programs and already-lean teacher salaries. Sometimes the strain is reflected in cafeteria offerings, and sometimes children sacrifice field trips for classroom materials. While the situation is unfortunate and presents challenges, modern conveniences provide viable possibilities. 

Technology eases budget strain
While budget cuts do cause strain and stress, proper use of modern technology can ease the burden all around. For example, while teachers may not have the budgets to print supplementary assignments, making them available online is completely free. Instead of using valuable resources to print permission slips for each and every child, teachers can make such forms available online for download. Classrooms can utilize online quizzes to save supply costs, and they can post schedules online instead of printing monthly calendars. 

With a Content Management System (CMS), teachers don’t have to spend time learning how to build a website. Providing valuable enrichment and taking learning beyond the walls of the classroom is as simple as pointing and clicking, and as a bonus, it’s easier for the busy parent to stay involved despite his/her busy schedule. If teachers make use of easy-to-build classroom websites, scarce funding can shuffled to ensure that programs such as art and music (which necessarily require expensive instruments and supplies) are kept intact. 

A valuable investment
For school districts, an investment in web technologies can mean freeing up all kinds of resources down the road. If teachers can efficiently leverage technology, it’s the students who will benefit -- and the better the education, the brighter our future. 

ezTask builds exceptional websites for K-12 Education and Local Government that are affordable and easy to update. 

Why Rackspace and What You Mean to Us
Nov 21 2012 - 07:28:00 am
As a small business, every decision counts. You have to watch your spending very closely. You pay close attention to what kind of office supplies you purchase, you look for the “free shipping” offers, and you’ll postpone your purchases to wait for a good deal. You monitor your water bills and electricity usage, and you make sure that lights are turned off and computers are shut down.

When it comes to decisions regarding your customers, however, we believe no expense can be spared. At least at ezTask, we firmly uphold that taking care of our customers is our most important duty. We go to extraordinary lengths to make sure they’re happy and taken care of, and to provide the absolute best products and services that we can.

When it came to making a decision regarding our web hosting, we conducted painstakingly elaborate research. We sought to find the most trusted, best reviewed, highest quality company, and all roads led us to Rackspace. What we found was the worlds’ leader in service, support, and uptime -- the company is known for its “fanatical support” and unparalleled reliability. As a company, we knew that going with Rackspace would come with a hefty price tag. It would be a strain and certainly a leap of faith. We also knew we couldn’t provide our customers with anything less, and so we signed on.  

ezTask’s partnership with Rackspace means that we can promise you 99.9% uptime and state-of-the art services with full confidence. When issues arise, we have a global team working behind us to bring you back up to speed within minutes, 24/7/365. We want to make sure you can count on us, and we are committed to providing you the very best the industry has to offer. 

ezTask creates websites for K-12 Education and Local Government that are affordable and easy to update. The company has been Texas’ turnkey website design, hosting, and content management solution for over a decade. 

The Necessity of CMS
Nov 14 2012 - 04:36:00 pm
Effective teaching is certainly about helping students to learn, but the key to success in this way relies more on just the teacher’s ability to teach well. One key element which separates good teachers from great teachers is their accessibility and ability to engage and work alongside parents. With the proper tools, this is a task made easy. 

The need for classroom websites
Sadly, one of the top reasons for children’s academic struggle (or even failure) in school is due to a lack of involvement from parents in the learning process. Nowadays, parents are often too busy to attend parent/teacher nights and conferences or to visit the classroom. This doesn’t mean that parents don’t wish to be involved in their children’s education; they simply don’t have the time. However, with a little effort and the help of a few tools, parents and teachers can communicate and interact without having to bend over backwards to reengineer their schedules. Teacher websites can be an invaluable tool in connecting parents and students to the classroom. 

The difference between a classroom website and a school web site
Most campus and school district websites host general information, such as opening and closing hours, a calendar of events, emergency alerts, and school history. However, teacher websites are more personal and allow for communication of classroom-specific information. A classroom website allows parents to keep up with classroom happenings without having to physically be present. Parents can view everything from homework and testing schedules to photo galleries and blogs; teachers can even post online quizzes and assignments, recordings of class lectures for absent students, blogs, and streaming media of all kinds. 

What can you do with a classroom website?
As far as possibilities for using a classroom website, the options are endless!

Post upcoming events requiring parent participation (online surveys or polls for feedback), and share important bulletins about changes in the classroom, and make sure everyone is one board.

Children don’t always remember to give parents flyers or letters from school, and busy parents often overlook these things in the mailbox.  Having a classroom website enables parents to view important information concerning changes or upcoming events right from their own computer or mobile phone.  This way, parents don’t miss a beat.

As a teacher, it is also important to recognize a student who is doing exceptionally well in class.  Instead of just posting the student’s name on a bulletin board in class, why not showcase them on a classroom website?  This is an achievement that other students may want to mimic and parents could be proud of.

How to get started
You may have seen hosts offering free websites with templates and you may be tempted to sign up to these sites.  While handy, such free services are often limited in their abilities and usually have very little space to work with.  Also, if you aren’t tech savvy, you may not have the time to learn how to build your own website or how to use these templates.  However, there is affordable software available (known as a content management system, or CMS) that could help you build a site quickly – you can upload videos, photos, bulletins and other information without having to use complicated tools or learn programming languages.This takes the hassle out of managing and building your website. This way you can spend more time planning your content and less time trying to figure out how to upload it. 

Sound good? Contact us today about all the ways in which classroom websites can transform communication and learning in the classroom. We create exceptional websites for teachers that are affordable and easy to update – if you can use a word processor or surf the net, you can manage your website with ease using ezTask!

The Importance of Reliability
Nov 07 2012 - 01:52:00 pm
When it comes to having a web presence, few things are as critical as having a website that is reliably accessible. After all, what good will your information be if it is intermittently available? It always seems that (Murphy's Law) -- if the technology can fail, it will fail at the worst possible moment. What good is having emergency alerts on your website if the situation arises, your unreliable web servers prevent your visitors from seeing your alerts? Why try to drive traffic to a website that crashes when your efforts succeed and people click through?

The fact that Twitter proudly pointed out to its users that it was able to withstand the heavy traffic of tweets on Election Day says something. Shouldn't one of the nations' leading social media platforms be expected to withstand heavy communication traffic at times of peak social buzz? At ezTask, we have partnered with the industry leader in web hosting, Rackspace, to bring you unparalleled reliability -- 99.9% uptime. Your trust is invaluable to us, and we stand behind the solution we provide. Rest assured that your ezTask website will always be up and running, ready for your visitors. 

Ask us about it. We would love to tell you more. See what our customers are saying, or give us a call. We would love to talk to you about how an ezTask website can be your reliable, affordable, total web solution. 

 

Twitter's infamous
"fail whale".
Sandy and Technology
Nov 01 2012 - 08:25:00 am
As most all are well aware, "Frankenstorm" Hurricane Sandy obliterated the East Coast this week, hitting hardest the Jersey Shore, including the Atlantic City Boardwalk as well as almost entirely devastating Queens, New York with water, winds, and outrageous and uncontrollable fire. Many are still without power and may be for quite awhile -- the rest of the physical wreckage of the storm will take years to repair.

In times like these, technology is an irreplaceable resource. The Red Cross commissioned an app which allows victims to post "I'm safe" messages, as well as receive critical information and storm updates. Google launched a Crisis Map, which both tracked Sandy's path along the Atlantic and now contains real-time information about recovery and the aftermath of the storm (including traffic conditions, shelter information and locations, and other helpful information). Newspapers, including the NY Times and Wall Street Journal have disabled their "paywalls" (allowing all internet users to access all "paid" content"). Several large technology discussions and showcases were set to take place this week as well, and Google as well as Facebook were forced to postpone their big reveals. 

There is no faster way to communicate than via technology, particularly mobile technology. In times of an emergency, mobile access can become an especially important feature of a website. Several of our customers were able to use their ezTask mobile websites to alert visitors of conditions affecting their schools or cities. Do you have an emergency system in place? 

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by Hurricane Sandy.