open content

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 –
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 –
This plugin increases the ability of the default WP search (including pages, tags, etc.).

– tags4page –
This plugin allows you to tag pages (posts can already be tagged).

– WPLicense –
WpLicense is a plugin for WordPress which allows users to select a Creative Commons license for their blog and content.

– WP 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.,

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’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?

open content

WPMU as OCW Platform

We’ve been using WPMU to power our OCW project in the David O. McKay School of Education for a year now. It’s been extremely straightforward and simple to run – every course has its own blog on the WPMU instance. Tons of plugins, drop dead simple migration… I love it.

However, as we ramp up to include more participants this year I’ve started wondering about the URL structure of having multiple departments participate. What I would love to do is still assign one blog per course, but be able to organize these under “subdirectories” as follows:

&c. You get the idea. I haven’t been able to spend a ton of brain power on it, but I can’t figure out how to get the /ipt/ or the /comd/ in the middle there. Any thoughts?

Also, I’m wondering what to do URL-wise about courses like IPT 692. This is an Advanced Issues seminar and is taught multiple times each year by different faculty. Multiple times each semester, in many cases. How should I proceed? /ipt/692/wiley/? And how should I archive these? /ipt/692/wiley/2009/fall/?

open content

On fully distributing the social network

Justin and I have been talking a lot lately about what’s wrong with social networking. Much has been written about social network fatigue and about the lack of data portability provided by many of the major social networks. For a variety of reasons, the portability of my identity and the graph of who my friends are and my relationships to them – in other words, me and my social network – is an extremely interesting problem to me. (And as Eric says, every good piece of software starts with a developer scratching his own itch.) Perhaps I’m not so interested in data portability aspects of getting my photos out of Flickr or my bookmarks out of Delicious because it’s already so easy to do. Getting my information about myself and my social network out of Facebook isn’t easy to do…