Yesterday, I attended the NERCOMP WordPress University SIG, a showcase of what some folks are doing with WordPress.
First session: Jay Colier, Web Communications Manager, Bates College
Described reworking Bates Collegeâ€™s web presence to identify and streamline paths that guide people through different stages of connection to the institution. Traditionally, each stage (e.g., applicant, student, alumnus, etc.) was a separate silo. Lots of good, high-level analysis. WordPress allowed Jay to implement a redesigned site with minimal resources, but a robust result. Easy content development for contributing departments.
- Interesting tidbit. Navigation menus according to affiliation lifecycle (my term), and Commencement was put at the beginning of the Alumni menu rather than the end of the student menu.
- He really worked the (I assume) Mac presentation toolâ€™s transitions; water ripples, split screen async slide to left/right. Very slick and pretty, slightly distracting.
- He had great analysis and direction. Used Google Analytics not to see page count but to study paths through the site(s). Would our communications/web team be open to reviewing this work?
Second Session: Ioannis Yessios, Manager of Web Technologies, Instructional Technology Group, Yale University
Develops custom plugins to do cool stuff. Uses WPMU at Yale. Showed a long list of the useful plugins that heâ€™s used, then a shorter list of the must-haves. (Waiting for his slide deck!) Showed some of the ways heâ€™s used plugins to do all kinds of things; currently heâ€™s working on a super gallery mechanism (GalleryPress).
- Showed how his tools work as an example of the kinds of facilities that can be built. Didnâ€™t really address how plugins work (From his session description, I thought he would).
- Heâ€™s working on some MU plugins to hide themes and plugins from site admins, i.e., you can have themes and plugings installed that arenâ€™t visible to some sites. With stock install, you can enable/disable for different sites, but they are still visible.
- Authored a bunch of other plugins
- Anonymizer – to conceal the author of posts/comments, originally for a course on sexuality in literature. Aliases are consistent within a single site/blog.
[edit: PDF presentation (lists of plug-ins)]
Third Session, part A: Randall Rode, IT Director, School of Drama, Yale University
Used WordPress to solve a problem. Was asked to make an authenticated but anonymous online survey, by the end of the week. Used WordPress and a couple plugins, and used MS Access to report from the database. only took a few hours.
Take-away: itâ€™s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission
Third Session, part B: Casey Bisson, Information Architect, Plymouth State University
Developer of Scriblio. Using information that already existing and connecting it new and interesting/useful ways. WP-powered website. Custom plugins make re-arranging all the content on sites easy, with no coding. Casey changed the production website from the conference. He was smug; I was horrified.
- PSU is pulling course info from Banner to build online, browsable catalog
Fourth Session: Jane Wells, User Experience Lead, WordPress | Automattic
Overview of direction of WordPress. WordPress Foundation now owns all IP, so no one can â€œturn evilâ€ and claim they have rights to some or all of WP.
- WP 3 merges MU functionality into core
- Custom post types, custom menus
- New default theme (and a new default theme each year)
- WordPress 3: 426 bugs resolved, 268 to go.
Fifth Session: WordPress as Social Platform: BuddyPress and the CUNY Academic Commons
Boone Gorges, Instructional Designer, CUNY Queens College
Matthew Gold, Project Director of the CUNY Academic Commons
Quote: “We built the plane as we were flying it.”
Plain-vanilla WPMU+BuddyPress contrasted with theming work and additional plugins. Interesting discussion of the â€œmiddle spaceâ€ between purely academic and purely social experiences and interactions. Leveraging the groups and forums. Discussed the possibilities of the activity streams associated with each user/group/etc. Integrated some wordpress wiki-like functionality, also mediaWiki. Place for collaboration.
- Sounds from some comments like this was developed as an alternative to SharePoint.
- Boone has written useful BP plugins http://teleogistic.net/code/
- http://cunypie.commons.gc.cuny.edu/ (Pizza blog on Academic Commons. W00t!)
The organizerâ€™s page/post where heâ€™ll be linking materials from the event:
WordPressMU Development for Education:
WordPress in Higher Education:
List of WordPress plugins for Higher Education:
Posts by an instructor at CUNY, using WordPress as the center of the online learning experience.
Other noted plugins:
- Digress.it â€“ paragraph-by-paragraph comments; writing critique on blog?
- Tdo-mini-forms â€“ submit posts anonymously, with options, moderation
- Survey â€“ yeah, another option
- Bsuite â€“ CMS options and layout control
- The Events Calendar â€“ recommended event calendar plugin (note the plural!)
- WP Wiki â€“ uses WP versioning for change management
Iâ€™m also waiting to get Ioannisâ€™ (Yanniâ€™s) deck with the list of most useful plugins.