WPMU as OCW Platform Update

For a year now I’ve been running the McKay School of Education’s OCW pilot on WPMU. However, I’ve never blogged exactly how I’ve got it setup or how we’re using it.

Last summer, in preparation for the pilot, I set up WPMU 2.7 with the following plugins installed across the site:

– PageMash – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/pagemash/
Customise the order your pages are listed in and manage the parent structure with this simple ajax drag-and-drop administrative interface with an option to toggle the page to be hidden from output. Great tool to quickly re-arrange your page menus.

– Search Everything – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/search-everything/
This plugin increases the ability of the default WP search (including pages, tags, etc.).

– tags4page – http://www.michelem.org/wordpress-plugin-tags4page/
This plugin allows you to tag pages (posts can already be tagged).

– WPLicense – http://wiki.creativecommons.org/WpLicense
WpLicense is a plugin for WordPress which allows users to select a Creative Commons license for their blog and content.

– WP Pages Only – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/pages-only/
This plugin simply changes the default “Write” and “Manage” links in admin to go to pages instead of posts.

Just these few plugins make WPMU quite usable as a no-frills OCW platform. Obviously, this setup lacks the full functionality of something like eduCommons, but you can also migrate from version to version in seconds with a single Subversion command, and we know that this platform scales to tens of millions of pageviews per day (e.g., wordpress.com).

IPT 287 does a number of other interesting things with other plugins, like syndicating all student work into the OCW site using FeedWordPress. Charles also utilized the blog functionality of WPMU to do live announcements, etc., on the site – actually teaching his course off the OCW site. This is another part of the beauty of WPMU – per course functionality.

It’s summer again, which means it’s time for open.byu.edu’s WPMU install to get an upgrade to 2.8 and for me to look for additional plugins and bits of functionality that any self-respecting OCW platform should have. We’ll also be growing the scope of our pilot this year (after doing only two courses last year). I’ve already started chatting with the good Reverend about some of the additional functionality we’re going to need as our pilot expands in scope… But I’d love your thoughts, too. What do you think as WPMU as an OCW platform? What functionality is WPMU with above plugins missing that it desperately needs? Are there existing plugins that provide that functionality?

5 thoughts on “WPMU as OCW Platform Update”

  1. I don’t know much about WPMU, specifically, but I did have a few thoughts …

    Why WP 2.7? Maybe plugin compatibility, but is it worth the increased security risk?

    Also, have you taken a look at BuddyPress? It’s a framework built on top of WPMU that gives it social networking features. Very active developers.

  2. Jared,

    Tony Hirst has done some impressive stuff with this, and if the existing content has solid RSS feed, you can pull a lot of content in. Now this differs from application to application, but if USU’s OCW was built in Plone, chances are they can snap and RSS feed on pages and pull that stuff in , but I may be out of my depth here. Help me OUseful Kenobi, your my only syndication hope.

  3. Just found your post through a Google alert for “WPMU” and it’s great to see WPMU used for a project like this.

    @Jared Stein,
    One solution would be to use something like MachForms ( http://www.appnitro.com/ ) to build a simple uploader for putting content right into a MySQL database then write a plugin to pull that into WPMU.

  4. Jim, I’ve seen Tony’s goodness, but this presumes stuff is already published, and has a feed. Granted, in the age of Google Apps and Yahoo Pipes the first condition is the most important, but I’m really thinking about this from a user perspective, i.e. uploading stuff, even unpacking stuff, directly to the WPmu account.

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