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Government Websites

John Simkin

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Stephen Twigg told MPs last week that the government is spending more than £9 million a year on education websites. The Department for Education and Skills spent £5.3 million on eight websites. Others costing a lot of money includes Curriculum Online (2.4m), British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (£1.3m), National Grid for Learning (£1.1m), National College for School Leadership (£673,000), Teacher Training Agency (£517,000) and Qualifications & Curriculum Agency (£380,000). A DfES spokesman defended this level of spending by arguing that: "the departmental website is one of the largest and most heavily used in Government."

How much does your website cost you? I estimate that I spend about £30,000 a year on my website. I get this money back from advertising and sponsorship. I currently get 60 million page impressions a year. I calculate that means I get 2,000 page impressions for every £ spent. I wonder what the calculation would be for a government website?

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How much does your website cost you? I estimate that I spend about £30,000 a year on my website. I get this money back from advertising and sponsorship. I currently get 60 million page impressions a year.

I maintain two websites:

1. My business website - which also includes a large number of free resources for language teachers: http://www.camsoftpartners.co.uk

2. The ICT4LT educational training resources website: http://www.ict4lt.org

I spend around 3 hours per week on maintenance for each site, so let's say around £7500 per year per site on labour costs - but I don't charge anyone for this!

Domain name registration - can't remember exactly what this costs but I think it's roughly £25 per year per site.

ISP costs (server space) for my business website: around £160 pounds per year (including email, spam filtering etc). Server space for the ICT4LT site is provided free of charge by a British university.

The ICT4LT website cost 465,900 euros to initiate, 50% of which was paid by the European Commission. This covered all consultants' costs, expenses for meetings, paying writers to provide the materials, etc. I now maintain it as a labour of love.

My business website gets around 40 hits per day.

The ICT4LT website currently gets around 700 hits per day.

Although my business is registered with Curriculum Online (COL) and listed at the COL website I can only trace about half a dozen referrals from the COL site to my business website - i.e. since COL came into existence. BECTA referrals amount to about one per month.

BECTA does not even acknowledge the existence of ICT4LT in spite of the fact that it is the biggest single collection of ICT training resources for language teachers anywhere on the Web - the not-invented-here syndrome, maybe? Just a handful of referrals from the NGfL website and the VTC to the ICT4LT website have been logged. So the 700 hits per day are definitely not due to relevant information being provided by government agencies. ICT4LT has a large regular user base and most newcomers find the site via keyword searches with Google.

It is therefore quite clear to me that the teachers that I target at both the above sites do not make much use of government and government agency websites. I can understand why. Government and government agency websites are difficult to navigate and far too big. Furthermore they are always being reconstructed, so if you do eventually find something useful it will probably have moved in 6 months time.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My web site costs around $100 per year (including domain name reg.). I am getting around 4,000 page impressions per day at the moment mainly from other schools and revising students. Maybe the Maths department could help me with the sums :)

The point I think John is hinting at is that teacher produced web sites with good learning materials are fantastic value for money (despite getting no backing from government), whereas the big subsidised sites are expensibe follies. Perhaps one day someone in government will have the wisdom to invest in those teachers already carrying out web page development and give them the time and resources to improve them further. Was that a flying pig I saw??

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As this thread started as 'government websites' I thought that this one is worth sharing.... 'Parentcentre.gov.uk' is aimed at 'Parents' (read electorate) and is intended to be a wealth of useful information which will arm every parent with the information they need to know about what their child should be entitled to whilst at school. It looks innocuous enough (although probably costing the taxpayer more than would be needed to run an entire third world country for a year) but try using the 'search' - 'reports' is good as is 'parents evenings'. 'Formal meetings with teachers' is quite meaty as well!

These gems have just been sent out to schools in guess what......glossy booklet form! I look forward to the lorryloads that are probably on their way to us ready for distribution to every set of parents via their kiddies. Oh joy!

Have fun! 'parentcentre'


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