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Weaving a Secure Web Around Education: A Guide to Technology Standards and Security
  Table of Contents and Introductory Material
Chapter 1
  The Role of the World Wide Web in Schools and Education Agencies
Chapter 2
    Web Publishing Guidelines
Chapter 3
    Web-Related Legal Issues and Policies
Chapter 4
    Internal and External Resources for Web Development
Chapter 5
    Procuring Resources
Chapter 6
    Maintaining a Secure Environment
PDF File (1,119 KB)

Ghedam Bairu

(202) 502-7304

Executive Summary

The guidebook opens with a discussion of the possible content for web sites at various levels of the education environment. Chapter 1 emphasizes that the content is the first consideration when the agency decides it wants to build a web site.

Practical considerations necessary for the development and maintenance of a web site are discussed in chapter 2, including the rationale for web publishing standards and guidelines for web site content. Technical guidelines address such issues as password protection.

A web site developed by an education agency will exist within the context of the overall community. Chapter 3 discusses some policy issues to be addressed when considering federal, state, and local regulations. The rationale for having an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) is followed by a discussion of the relationship between the Internet and existing Open Meeting (Sunshine) laws. Policymakers are encouraged to think about usability guidelines as they relate to federal and state regulations on accessibility, privacy rights, and copyright regulations.

The initial premise of chapter 4 is that any organization can launch a useful web site, no matter what the level of expertise and funding. However, the sophistication of the site and physical location of the web servers will depend largely on where the resources can be found and what funding is available. This chapter delves more deeply into the issues that face an agency as it decides whether to develop and host a web site internally or to outsource the process. The chapter provides some guidelines to assist in selecting qualified vendors for outsourcing and identifies the hardware and software that will be needed for internal hosting and effective use of the web.

Chapter 5 describes the procurement process and outlines three approaches to developing bid requests: (1) technical specifications, (2) request for qualifications, and (3) request for proposals. To help control costs and keep the implementation on schedule, the bid packet should include as much information as the agency can possibly determine in advance. This might include basic design parameters, contract parameters, vendor/contractor qualifications, and any legal issues that might arise. Less specificity will often lead to misunderstandings, delays, and cost overruns. Agencies planning to set up their own Internet nodes or web sites must consider their hardware and software needs, as well as the agency's capacity to maintain the site and train the users of the system.

As the Internet, the web, and other computer applications become more complex, securing the network becomes more challenging. Historically, the Internet has been a magnet for attacks by hackers who find the weak points in a security system and intentionally break and enter into a restricted computer network. Chapter 6 sorts out the complexities of network security and addresses hardware, operating system, and software security protocols. This chapter is intended to meet the needs of more highly technical users. It provides detailed guidelines for securing Internet nodes and networks, including wireless networks. The chapter sections concerning data security and integrity are especially important for district technology directors, who are responsible for the protection of students and the data that relate to students and district employees.

This guidebook builds on, and is linked to, other technology guides developed by the National Forum on Education Statistics (the Forum) and available on the NCES web site:

  • Technology @ Your Fingertips provides a basic understanding for school leaders of how technology can be used in schools.
  • Safeguarding Your Technology provides a broad overview of security and the development of security procedures within education organizations.
  • Technology in Schools helps educators develop procedures for tracking the ownership and use of technology in schools and school districts.

As with other Forum publications, this guide of technology standards and security reflects the "best-practices" judgments of the state and local education professionals and others who contributed to it. The practices endorsed in this book are not required by the federal government, except for any specific citation of law or regulation. The guide is presented as a resource for others to use as a contribution to their own technology efforts.

The Forum documents mentioned above include extensive discussions of professional development for maximizing the use of computer technology in the education community. The professional development sections include recommendations for both instructional and noninstructional staff. Technology in Schools even presents suggestions for establishing a computer tracking system for professional development programs.

For readers who want to develop presentations about the topics covered in this guidebook, a PowerPoint® presentation is available at Agencies may modify the presentation to meet the specific needs of the organization. Additional copies of this guidebook may be downloaded from

Other guidebooks in the Forum technology group are available at