[wp-edu] GSoC 2010, BuddyPress for teaching

Kyle M. Jones kylejones at thecorkboard.org
Sun Apr 4 16:38:21 UTC 2010


Like Joseph mentions in a later response, I too am ecstatic that this idea has been brought up for a GSOC proposal.  Also like Joseph, my developer skills are near to none but we both have institutional experience working with LMS supporting professors/teachers and looking at the LMS from a student's perspective.  I've been using BuddyPress/WordPress as a LMS for two semesters and have had much success (side note: I develop and maintain the site, I'm not the professor).  You can find out all about my views on WP as LMS and how I've used it here: http://wpmu.org/wordpress-as-a-learning-management-system-move-over-blackboard/

Let me put this out there for you: I can't develop but I'd be more than willing to work side-by-side with you to conceptualize, mockup, and thoroughly test what you're looking to achieve.  In fact, I've been mocking up a LMS type theme that incorporates some of the things you talk about (I'll e-mail it to you if you're interested).  Basically, I'm here to help.   I'd venture to guess Joseph would volunteer some time as well ;)

For now though I'll respond to some of your comments below and will respond to Joseph in a later response.



> During the last #wordpress-gsoc chat, Jane pointed me to the
> ScholarPress, a community of WordPress plugins developers that are
> writing code to make WordPress useful in education. Their plugin,
> Courseware is built for WordPress and currently offers the following
> features:
>       * manage schedules
>       * manage bibliography
>       * manage assignments
>       * manage general course information
> >From what I heard the plugin also works with BuddyPress, but making it
> depends on WordPress (shortcodes, wp-admin) isn’t exactly a perfect
> integration. 
I think you're right on here.  Shortcodes aren't seamless.  And when we're talking about using WP-as-LMS with a wide user audience with differing skills, shortcodes wouldn't be the best way to go.  We need something that has a comprehensive, UX-focused admin panel.
> The idea what came is to port ScholarPress to BuddyPress.
> In details, to make SP aware of BP groups, and treat them as classes of
> students. Assign schedules per group, add bibliography to scheduled
> courses, so on for assignments. 
I look at groups with the same lens you do and it makes a lot of sense to me.  I know Joseph writes in a later post that we shouldn't focus any kind of LMS functionality on BuddyPress, but I think we can agree that the organization is logical.
> From the upstream TODO list, I also saw
> the need of a grade-book and I would also add a notification system
> (send a private message if a course is upcoming or a new grade was
> posted).
Good lord does WP need a gradebook. A comprehensive, secure, stable gradebook.  KB-gradebook is our only option and it fails every time for me, as Joseph documented here: http://prestidigitation.commons.gc.cuny.edu/2010/03/15/kb-gradebook/
> More on the internal part…
> It will require changes like, split the courses apart from schedules.
> Because SP will be groups aware, it will be more logical to create
> courses and link bibliographies and assignments to them, after what
> publish them in a schedule. Also I would consider adding an upload
> option for the courses that require annexes or attachments (later, you
> can bundle those with Google Docs viewer or psview).
As for the docs, I'm starting to use BP Group Documents for this: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/buddypress-group-documents/
But this is on the front end and I'd like something to be on the backend (or both?).
> About the gradebook, I liked the idea used for kb-gradebook, and I think
> it’s the bare minimal implementation of grades assignment I can consider
> as a starting point (read the csv file, and assign group members to
> marks).
> About users…
> In most of the education centers students are managed using a LDAP or
> ActiveDirectory. So bringing some core functionality into such a plugin
> also should be considered. I know you’ll jump that there are plenty of
> plugins that offer LDAP integration, but hey, none of them (afaik) will
> offer you options to integrate two baseDN’s into the same instance (this
> can be really useful for role mappings also, divide students from
> teachers).
I think you'll find as you dig into this that user roles might become complex - at least I see them as such.  Especially when it comes to the backend options for managing the LMS plugin/suite of modules.  I.e., you might need these roles with descending amounts of functionality:
-Super admin = full site functionality
-Instructional technologist = full LMS functionality (control over LDAP, course creation, user creation, assign students to courses, everything else/etc.)
-Professor/instructor = limited LMS functionality (gradebook, assignment creation, general course moderation, archive course/assign course visibility)
-TA = same as professor sans gradebook?, or maybe the professor can choose the functionality available to the TA
-Student = basic user role, content creator (but has access to their grades on the backend, ability to comment on grades directly to professor)
> I’m a student and at our university I had the opportunity to play a
> little with Moodle, so the above idea is based on my experience. It
> would be nice to hear some opinions from persons who are really involved
> into teaching process and what would they like to see in such a new
> ScholarPress.
Stas, I think it's great that you're thinking this way and see the inherent opportunities in a WP/BuddyPress combination as an LMS.  Let me know how I can help.
> There's also a post I wrote (this is a copycat) about this idea at:
> Thanks.
> -- 
> ()  Campania Panglicii în ASCII
> /\  http://stas.nerd.ro/ascii/

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