[wp-edu] Courseware, what's next

Stas Sușcov stas at nerd.ro
Wed Mar 30 22:33:25 UTC 2011

I'm a student who wrote the BuddyPress Courseware tool during last year
GSoC. I remember I asked about feedback last year before applying for
it, and with this email I would like to bring some reports about how the
project evolved and maybe get some feedback from this list teachers
about next directions for such a project.

Warning, long email!!!

During last year Courseware got:
* official ScholarPress family adoption [2]
* 6 more releases from initial 0.1 version (last one in March)
* 22 issues closed (5 feature requests/6 reports were invalid) [3]
* 18 open issues (2 marked as defect, the rest are feature requests)
* 12 reviews[4] (only two gave less than 5 stars)
* 62 forums topics with 115 members [5] (most of the support is done
* 15 github watchers and 5 forks
* WordCamp Bucharest superstar!

Some people showcased their websites here:

It's features cover:
* Class Dashboard
* Courses
  * Works for both learning models: European/United States
* Bibliography
  * Web API's integration with WorldCat/ISBNdb
  * BibTex Import
* Assignments
  * Responses
  * Forum integration
  * Gradebook
    * CSV Import
* Schedules
  * Calendar
    * Month, Week, Day view
    * Integrates with Assignment due dates
    * iCal export
* Customization using an external CSS

Afaik, until now, this is the only LMS build on a social network

This year idea:
BuddyPress Courseware lacks a good set of features without which it
can't be called a complete alternative to some commercial apps or the
same Moodle. Some of them are:
* A well written and easy to use Quizes/Tests module (integrated with
existing Gradebook)
* Advanced reports with charts and progress details (per student/per
* Native support for external authentication mechanism like LDAP/AD
(with automatic roles mapping)
* Attendance functionality
* Class pages (not just Courseware description)
* Make it even more modular (offer a screen to enable/disable components
for every class)
* Class cloning (create a new class based on an existing one by
selecting it's content teacher wants)
* Integration with other LMS like Moodle (users import/export or
authentication at least)
* Improved UI for Bibliography (tagging entries and using tags instead
of manually adding the items)
* Add a "Vimeo like save for later" functionality to generate "ToDo"
lists/plans for students or allow teachers create "recommended stuff"
lists for their students.

Therefore I propose to implement the above listed features this summer.

Also, following the last year feedback, a lot of teachers don't like the
BuddyPress because it requires additional resources and knowledge from
their side (maintaining and helping students easily adapt to it), and
expressed a wish to see Courseware, a standalone WordPress plugin that
can be used in a MultiSite environment with every teacher being able to
setup his own classes.

Unfortunately ScholarPress Courseware codebase is a bit old and requires
work to get it up-to-date with the latest WordPress features (post
types, post format... etc) and version compatibility. It lacks already
available features in BuddyPress version (very important, like multiple
classes, gradebook and responses). That's why to reduce the amount of
work on making two projects work, I would like to merge both projects
into one codebase (mostly BuddyPress Courseware will cover it's previous
WordPress version).

So to complete my idea I want to merge the WordPress and BuddyPress
version making them able to work with or without BuddyPress. Basically
this means I will write a "minimal BuddyPress" layer (the permalink
handler part, a minimal groups component that will use post
types/taxonomies, add a minimal profile page) that will activate if
BuddyPress is missing. Current BuddyPress Courseware is very modular so
the features available only in BuddyPress will use a fallback
mechanism/solution (notification or another alternative I will offer).

By the end of this summer, if the project gets accepted, WordPress will
probably can be listed as one of the serious LMS tools provider too.

I would like to get some feedback on all this stuff, or maybe I'm
missing some important features and teachers can say something about
Thanks in advance.

[1]: http://buddypress.org/community/groups/buddypress-courseware/home/
[2]: https://github.com/scholarpress
[3]: https://github.com/scholarpress/buddypress-courseware/issues/closed
[5]: http://buddypress.org/community/groups/buddypress-courseware/forum/
[6]: http://scholarpress.github.com/buddypress-courseware/

More information about the wp-edu mailing list