[wp-edu] Making the Case for WP in University Setting

Damon Cook damonacook at gmail.com
Wed Jul 6 13:46:46 UTC 2011

Hey Alex,
It is like pulling teeth from a tyrannosaurus :-)
I was sole developer/designer/administrator for Empire State College's
"Commons" http://commons.esc.edu

It was a long road to get an instance set up, and once I did I had to
approve all development decisions with non-technical director, which
restrained most of my ideas.  A little side note... this was developed and
launched a year and half ago, and I've left my position since, because of
the experience.  ESC's Commons has Buddypress (really old version)
installed, but most of it is disabled, and if I remember correctly I ended
up hacking the core of Buddypress to get rid of some of the functionality,
which was totally against my better judgement, but just wanted to get
something a little more user-friendly for faculty to use and experiment with
(deadlines).  I launched it and then left my position, and will soon be
leaving the education sector all together.

Our school has been using ANGEL for LMS for several years and has been
investigating the next move to another LMS for over a year with a recent
announcement that the next contendor will be Moodle.  As far as CMS we had
been running on Lotus Notes, which was a half-baked homegrown CMS solution.
 If you can call it that.  ESC is finally moving to a commercial solution
(Terminal4), which is almost a year in on transition and there are 1 or 2
live micro-sites, but nothing official yet.

ESC's instance of WPMU (v 2.7 if I remember correctly) is running on an
internal server, which was hell setting up.  Authentication was a huge
sticky point as our systems were antiquated (Lotus/LDAP/Active Directory).
 We ended up using LDAP plugin, but still wasn't working the way I would of
liked to.  There have been no updates to the platform, and it is still
running on the WPMU 2.7.

My advice would be to get ready to contribute code to WP community.  Perhaps
try to get a part-time or full-time developer to help get the system
running.  Depending on how many customizations you'll need.  The CUNY
Commons is a great example of what can be done.  Also, check out Stas'
progress on LMS-like functionality for WP: http://sushkov.wordpress.com/

Good luck!
feel free to email me if you have any further specific questions:

On Wed, Jul 6, 2011 at 8:00 AM, <wp-edu-request at lists.automattic.com> wrote:

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>   1. Making the Case for WP in University Setting (Alexandre Enkerli)
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Alexandre Enkerli <enkerli at gmail.com>
> To: "wp-edu at lists.automattic.com" <wp-edu at lists.automattic.com>
> Date: Tue, 5 Jul 2011 22:08:01 -0400
> Subject: [wp-edu] Making the Case for WP in University Setting
> Hi,
> Been using WP in diverse contexts, including some of my activities as
> an instructor.
> After talking with diverse people needing advice about Web solutions
> for all sorts of things, I came to the realization that it'd be
> incredibly useful to have a university-supported install of WordPress
> (Multi-Site and hopefully BuddyPress-enabled).
> It's a big institution, so it can be difficult to request such things.
> Actually, the communications department is in the RFP phase of
> implementing a new (commercial) CMS, so energies are spent elsewhere.
> We use Moodle as the main course management system for most of the
> community, though the business school uses FirstClass for the same
> purposes. Many faculty members are dissatisfied with their course
> management system and, clearly, there's a need for something which
> goes beyond individual courses. This is a university with a strong
> involvement in the local community and there are many projects by
> students, staff, and faculty which could use an online space as a kind
> of “university commons”.
> What's more, it'd be interesting to have some people do innovative
> work through WordPress. A dream I have is to use WP as a repository
> for “learning objects”. Such projects can be done independently, but
> they're more interesting if they're hosted on university servers.
> Way back when, universities had “personal homepages”, for all
> affiliated individuals. Why can't we have WP sites and BuddyPress
> profiles?
> Does anyone have advice on getting an academic institution to accept
> WP on their servers? I'll try to prepare a dossier, pointing to work
> done at diverse institutions (good thing Boone paved the way), and
> describing practical cases from faculty initiatives. It even sounds
> like the fear of having sensitive data held off-site could be a
> factor. But any insight as to how such a process went at other
> institutions would be very useful.
> Thank you.
> --
> Alex Enkerli
> http://Enkerli.com
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