[wp-edu] GSoC 2010, BuddyPress for teaching

Christopher christopher at portallanguageservices.com
Tue Apr 6 18:28:36 UTC 2010

On 4/6/2010 12:30 PM, Stas Sușcov wrote:
> În data de Ma, 06-04-2010 la 12:01 -0500, Christopher a scris:
>> I've been making good progress on my Buddypress - optional - LMS plugin
>> system and got my course info, syllabus, course sign up, and student
>> management system working (only took two days!) and getting ready to
>> start on a system for showing tasks in currently enrolled courses which
>> I'd send to students by e-mail once a week and show when they go to a
>> certain page when logged in.
>> I'd like to know what information and classification you'd find useful
>> if I am able to later get these plugins ready to share in the next few
>> months because honestly once it is all complete and working, I doubt
>> I'll add any new fields or options.  It will all be clean up and details
>> from then on.
> I can see your installation is pretty handcrafted for your personal
> needs and its pretty cool to see you managed that. The main thing I'm
> afraid of is that I'm from a different country and I'm almost 100% sure
> the things are different over here compared to other countries, so if I
> start some coding I will find very useful experience you already have in
> both managing online courses/datas and tools for interacting with
> students (gradebook, assignments and schedules).
I've been adding grades to a table as a percentage which could later be 
converted for grading scales when displayed. No one has mentioned any 
specific needs for gradebooks other than to be able to include feedback 
which I added before starting the course management plugin.
> For me, so far, is pretty clear the workflow and management of
> informations using ScholarPress, but I believe there's space for
> improvements (like already mentioned separation of courses from
> schedules) and thats where your input will matter a lot.
I really don't understand the separation of courses from schedules. 
There should always be some kind of schedule even if you don't require 
the student to follow one, it is still useful for the student to have a 
guide. The start date should be flexible unless the course needs to 
match the activities of an offline group.
   I'm going to try to set up this next plugin (very tempted to just add 
this feature to the course management one as a separate .php file or 
two)  to use the student's enrollment date (saved as YYYY-MM-DD ) as a 
basis for showing what to do since I personally don't see a need for a 
fixed start date for 100% online courses and probably set a variable in 
the script that  would skip the enrollment date check and use the date 
in the variable instead.  Hopefully using this method, I could set 
course info according to the need.
I do everything in php mostly using forms for the signup and "post" for 
sending the data through the processing scripts. As I said, I don't know 
javascript or ajax, but I saw there are some tutorials online now so I 
might try converting it later if I can get everything working right with 
just PHP & mysql.

I'm just using the functions included in plain old Wordpress for member 
lookup, manage students, to show different info to students and 
teachers, or have custom profiles. I'm also experimenting with creating 
"dashboard widgets" for students. Right now each plugin just shows a 
dashboard widget with a link to the important page one for checking 
their grades and one for seeing which courses they are enrolled in. I'm 
not showing that info directly because I don't want to have all those 
extra queries on a shared host every time they log in.

> Also I would like to see your code published and understand approaches
> you used, lets say, for tasks/assignments.
This is probably the most complicated part since I can do it so many 
ways. I've spent the last couple hours trying to decide if I want to 
create a task/assignment table for each course or one table with all of 
them with a course id field.  I guess I'll see what happens.  I won't be 
posting any complete scripts until I add them to the plugin directory or 
perhaps get help to fund my efforts since I do have to spend some time 
on other activities to make enough money to eat and pay the rent.  
Setting this up is just for fun and practice until I get some complete 
courses set up and even then there is no guarantee.
Once I get this third plugin working I'll send the list info for how to 
register/login and signup for a course to get feedback. How I set up 
this plugin might cause me to rethink parts of the first two.

My approach this week has been to keep it simple and flexible using what 
I know how to do to get it up and working even if not tidy or following 
plugin recommendations.  I've been spending time brainstorming and 
writing down steps I think would be needed to do a task then I try to 
code it. If it doesn't work I try another way.  I've been writing quite 
a few functions even though I normally use more include files. Right now 
I have several sheets of paper with my ideas for this next part working 
on a flow chart for the assignment/task/activity page and email 
notification and how they will interact with the enrollment table and 
course activity table where I'll store each activity... *sigh*

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