[wp-edu] GSoC 2010, BuddyPress for teaching

Skip Knox sknox at boisestate.edu
Sun Apr 4 16:28:47 UTC 2010

Just wanted to add my voice to Joseph's. Don't try to make WP into an LMS.
It won't work anyway (for example, you have to choose your authentication
method and there can be only one, so you're either an open system or a
closed one--no way to have partly-open, partly-closed). But if we can find
areas where the full library of WP, including plugins and widgets, is weak
in terms of higher education, then improving those would be most welcome.

I too am an advocate of mixed systems. My virtual courses all, consist of an
open area that anyone can read, with a closed discussion forum (to respect
students' privacy). Even there, authentication is an additional burden, but
as my classes have only about 30 students, I'm willing to put in the extra

My courses are old (oldest dates to 1994) and are showing their age--web
pages with an external forum, and no WordPress in sight--but they might
serve as an instructive comparison to the really excellent work Joe has
done. The home page of each has links to the others, so I'll just list one.
I do blog about this a bit
and yeah that's Blogger. I'll get it moved one of these Fine Days.

Anyway, folks can look at mine and Joe's and see even in these two areas how
radically different approaches can be -- and the range would be greater if
we had someone from Health Sciences or Architecture or the Performing Arts
or Physics. I echo Joe's basic objection to the big LMS systems: one size
doesn't fit all and going down that road is actually a significant deviation
from the basic principle of a university (which is a collection of different
disciplines). And I second his preference for the loose collection approach.

I have a couple of things I'd love to see as improvements. One, a way for
*me* to rate posts in discussion and to have those accumulate. Secondary to
that, a way for me to reference my rubric quickly while rating, and a way to
browse on two axes: by student and by thread. Nobody does this really
elegantly yet.

The second thing I'd love to see is a versioning system. I've modified my
courses over the years and in so doing I simply overwrite what was there
before. I'd like to be able to have kept each version of my course *and* to
have kept each forum with each course, so that any of my students could
return not only to the course the way it is today, but the way it was when
*they* took the course. Imagine how useful this would be if all students
could do this with all their courses.

Skip Knox
Boise State University
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