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MARCH 31, 2008   

Clickless this year.

Click logo from websiteIn 2002 I had the idea that a competition to find the best high school web designers would be a good thing. It would encourage students to build websites and it would be a great recruitment tool for Tri-C.

So, with strong support from the Western Campus administration I organized and ran the first Click! High School Web Competition. My Web Publishing II class that semester came up with the name and designed the original website.

The first year was really disappointing. The entry deadline came and went, and we had only two or three entries. Everyone who entered won. One of the entrants really did do a great site for his high school, so we could see that there was talent out there. In following years the numbers of entries ranged from 20 to a peak of 40 or so. Not great for a city the size of Cleveland, but not bad.

We saw some really interesting sites, started to build relationships with a few high schools, made strong connections in the local web design community by recruiting professionals as judges, and in general had a pretty successful event. Last year we got support from Cleveland's Web Association, which helped publicize the event and sponsored a very nice awards ceremony.

So while not fabulously successful, the competition was moving along. Unfortunately it had always been a one-man operation, a bad way to organize an event that you hope to stage annually. This year, for reasons I can't clearly identify, I ran out of steam. Because I had never built a team to run the competition, if I didn't do something it didn't get done. The only exception to this is help I got from a succession of Tri-C students in the design and maintenance of the Click! website. Both last year and this year it was Remington Phillips who designed a new site in 2007 and re-skinned it in 2008 for a fresh look.

So the site was ready to go, but I'd fallen woefully behind in publicizing the competition. Despite my goal of getting this underway over winter break, the hundreds of letters to principles and teachers didn't go out even in February, the usual time. This was a disaster. Actually collecting entries, judging, scoring, etc. are very manageable, but the problem is that we had only about a dozen students and teachers who'd signed up for information. Our pool of entries would have been small.

After talking this over with my dean, I decided that it would be better to cancel the 2008 competition and work on creating a broader-based organization to run it next year. This was a tough call because 1) it was avoidable and 2) the students and teachers who had planned on entering would be disappointed.

But after spending much of today writing emails to various groups (former judges, teachers, administration, students, and supporters) I'm sure that it was the right thing to do. At this late date the competition would have been half-baked at best. Instead, I'm going to put the energy I have into planning a new, improved Click! Web Competition for 2009.

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MARCH 2008