New website presents a fresh face for our union
by Nathan Goldbaum, CTU Communications Specialist | 10/05/2018
By Nathan Goldbaum
The Chicago Teachers Union has come a long way in the seven years since we last revamped our website, and so has the Internet. As we move into a new school year, new contract fights and a new election season, the CTU has created a new online presence and freshened our look.
Members may recall that we held a vote in June of this year about our new logo. The winning logo combines a modern, web-oriented feel with the timeless symbolism of a classic union seal. To save costs, the CTU will phase in the use of the new logo on stationery and other paper goods already in stock. The Union is currently developing apparel that will feature our new logo and ordering information will soon be available. Meanwhile, the new logo will feature prominently on the new website. The website has also been reorganized and includes new features, like better search and progressive web application technology.
The new site is organized around three different ways that members interact with the Union and its web presence. In the “My Union” section of the site, members will find information about CTU membership, our democratic structures like the House of Delegates, special offers for members, general news, the Chicago Union Teacher magazine and more. The “My Rights” section deals with every aspect of enforcing your rights at work. Here, you can access the contract, contact your field representative, and find advice on handling grievances (including common concerns) and standard forms you may need.
Finally, “My Movement” helps members and schools stay organized to defend our rights and our school communities. In this section, you will find the featured campaigns of the union, such as our contract campaigns, and an easy-to-fill-out form for contacting your elected representatives on the page. You will also find toolkits for organizing your school, such as ways to boost your Professional Problems Committee and Professional Personnel Leadership Committee, or how to unite around a particular issue.
We hope that the new design and organization will help you find what you need easily, without needing to search (although we've also improved the search function to find pages by topic and prioritize the timeliest information).
Educators of Chicago
One of the most exciting new features of the website is the “Educators of Chicago” (EOC) series. Modeled on the website, humansofnewyork.com, EOC will feature profiles of the teachers, paraprofessionals and clinicians who care for Chicago's students and guide their futures. In addition to highlighting what makes our members great, EOC stories are generated by rank-and-file members themselves in order to lift one another up in an act of camaraderie and solidarity. The website includes a form for any member to submit a colleague's profile. One can even profile a group of CTU members and the work they have done.
Math teachers need not worry, however, because the crack editorial staff of this magazine and the CTU Communications Department will be sure to lively up your prose and correct any mistakes. No one need fear the wrath of 25,000 red pens!
More New Features
We will be making a number of other improvements to the website based on better content documentation and new technologies. For one thing, the website will finally catch up to the ubiquity of phone browsers with a design that adapts to screen sizes from the smallest smartphone to the largest, high-density monitor. In addition, CTU staff will be going back through all of our past blog posts and news stories to ensure that they are properly tagged to improve the site's search bar.
We will also roll out emergent Progressive Web App technology that allows a website to be added to your smartphone's home screen with many features, such as notifications, that used to only be available through app stores.
Our New Address on the Web
With the purchase of the CTU Center, our Union has had a new address in the city for a couple of years now. The rollout of our new website merits a new web address, or domain name, as well. Instead of having two confusing, “commercial” domains—ctunet.com and ctulocal1.com—for our website and our emails, the Union will emerge with a new, more coherent site name in ctulocal1.org.
Although the conventions are often flouted, .com domains are normally reserved for for-profit commercial ventures, while .org signifies not-for-profit status. We thought it more appropriate to switch to .org while maintaining a familiar moniker. We will also unite website and email in the one domain. But don't worry if habit forces you to type an old address. We will automatically forward you.
Keep an eye out in the near future for communications about new apparel, new functionality and a scavenger hunt on the new website with multiple prizes to win. Building our union's strength, power and unity in these times brings both great challenges and great opportunities. Our website renovation puts new tools at our disposal to face them.
Nathan Goldbaum is the CTU Communications Specialist.