I was looking at the posts on WPMu Development for Education earlier this morning, and I came across this post from The College of Wooster’s (or should I saw WOOT!ster’s) WPMu/BuddyPress install Voices. The post was about new themes added to their system, something I am always interested in, but it also gave me the opportunity to check out the hard work Jon Breitenbucher has been doing on Wooster’s blog-based publishing platform, and I am extremely impressed. What I am really blown away by is how he is using BuddyPress Groups as course instances, and the way they’ve set it up, courses are linked to groups, and through those groups course pages you get access to the latest blog posts, wire comment activity, group members, and a link to the course blog. Additionally, there’s also a fourm integrated through an integrated bbPress. The whole design gives the course a really nice landing page and overview for anyone coming in from the outside, I love this setup.
And what’s more, the group course blogs have the option of being public or private enables the option of privacy that so often gets misunderstood in this platform as non-existent. People do have the choice in such a environment to make a decision about open or closed, most LMSs do not give the average course instance. One of the public blogs, Geology 105 is an open course that is blogging about Natural Hazards. As it turns out, professor Gallagher’s Geography 240 course is also dealing with the topic Natural Hazards. And the fact that these two courses are following a similar topic openly might allow Jon and to actually put in place something we were talking about at WordCamp NYC, namely a sharing of ideas across our two campuses. The platform provides a means for us to do this easily, and if eaither of these courses were in an LMS, would we have the same options? Would I have been able to discover the work at Wooster so easily? And while some say we need to rethink the LMS and work within that space to make in do these things more readily, I for one feel none of that compulsion. Working in an open source platform that provides the means to share and converse so readily precludes the need for reinventing the wheel with proprietary software. Why waste our time, now let’s get his party started right, Jonny B:)
I would love to have Professor Pollock and Professor Gallagher get in touch and see how and/or if their classes could interact. Professor Pollock wasn’t sure about technology’s role in her courses when she entered our Instructional Technology Faculty Fellows Program last spring. After completing the program she has really found a number of interesting ways to incorporate technology into her pedagogy. So I think she would be very interested in cross campus interaction.
You also bring up one of the other things we have been thinking about at Wooster: “What is the future and role of the LMS?” I like to think of the creation of knowledge as an open thing, and the LMS seems to hinder this in my opinion. Others seem to think this way as well, what you have done with UMW blogs, what CUNY has done with CUNY Academic Commons, and what U Calgary Blogs is doing all (just to name a few) point at a desire for a more open and interactive system for knowledge sharing and creation. I’m excited at the possibilities of WordPress Multi Site and BuddyPress in the Academy. Let’s get some cross campus interaction going!
Agreed, and I am ready. But first you have to tell me how you set up the Group pages in BuddyPress to look so awesome? Is that a result of the BP theme, plugins, hacks, what? I need to know 🙂
Well, that is from the theme which is one of WPMUDev Premium’s. I REALLY wish I had more time to build my own theme. Maybe over the summer. I’ll probably just tweak this one.
I’m going to ping Meagen and let her know about the site Professor Gallagher has. We’ll see what develops.
I came across this just as I was doing a “language” translation for BuddyPress that changes “Groups” to become “Classrooms” and create a more LMS feel for the site I’m creating. I’m thinking of doing a full educational translation to have “Members” become “Students” or whatnot.
Maybe I’ll put up a survey to have people vote on the semantics and then create a full translation to release?
Anyways, another fine post.
I lament about the current state of BuddyPress themes as well. BUT – I’ve come to realize that it’s just as easy to use the BP-Template pack plugin, a premium WordPress theme (or free if you choose), and a bit of CSS hacking from the BP-Default theme to get a good looking BuddyPress theme in about a day’s time.
Get in touch with me if you need/want any help with this…