Multi-user weblogging in schools

Tom posts about weblogging / eportfolioing in schools from a “progressive comprehensive school reform” angle and looking towards “a progressive, authentic approach to standards-based assessment”. Good stuff!

Personally I reckon that what he asks for, namely as system which allows him to:

“* View entries for a given course, e.g., English 11, across different sections and teachers.
* View entries related to a specific unit, e.g., quatratic equations.
* View entries related to units which address a common standard, e.g., all units which address the bill of rights.
* View entries by 9th grade students.
* View entries by all students in my advisory.”

Isn’t far off the kind of system that CMSs, Blogs, Aggregation, ePortfolios and Digital Objects Management Systems are going to blend into in the not too distant future… hopefully.

In the meantime though here’s a theoretical hack solution using WPMU and a yet to be released web-based, independently hosted aggregation / email service.

-Using LDAP independent Blog/CMSs are created for each learner
-Using LDAP as well OPML files are generated for class(es) / year / ‘house’ (posh school hangover ;o) etc. These pre-populate the aggregators which are also assigned to individual students (School library also has set of subject specific OPML packages but that’s another area)
-These OPML files are also easily extractable to independent aggregators
-For each course a ‘category’ is automatically created in each individuals students blog… tags are available for each category covering specific units / standards
-These categories and blogs are automatically registered by year, class, advisory, student / musical interest / sporting stuff etc. etc. for easily viewable access.

Naturally these blogs have all the functionality of a sleek CMS, wonderful editing tools, wiki-esque potential for collaboration, simple authentication processes etc. etc. etc. and they’re all hosted behind a school firewall but with the RSS able to ‘get out’.

But I don’t reckon it’s that far off or that hard… where I do think it’ll fall down though is if one systems tries to do it all. The idea above is kind of a WordPress / Plone / Any dbase / Bloglines-esque aggregator type solution, any ‘all-encompassing’ would surely fall over standards / interoperability-wise as well as provide insufficient tools for the job? Perhaps?

8 replies on “Multi-user weblogging in schools”

  1. Everything you’ve described is doable with Drupal today. I’m just getting back from DrupalCon in Europe, and have seen some crazy new stuff coming out, esp. from some way out educators at Iowa State.

    Seeing what their plans are, I kept thinking of your cloud pictures of connected but separate spaces. Hopefully more I can share soon.

  2. Maybe with Drupal as an independent blogging tool (my-drupal) rather than as a community…

    The aggregator in Drupal is nice too and this facility deserves a huge slap on the back.

    The more you share the happier we’ll be :D I might try and hack a demo in teh meantime…

  3. The aggregator is actually going to be aided on one side by a publish – subscribe capability that allows publish points to be established (e.g. by topic) that allows the push AND/OR pull of content between sites. This can also be coupled with some crazy new workflow tools e.g. student posts to topic/course on site; topic is a publish point to course site; arrives on course site in “instructor must approve” state; instructor approves and brings live, while retaining link as “external content” back to original site.

    And yes, my-drupal (user/course/department/uni) is the way to go here, with a central authentication model of either LDAP or distributed-auth (there are a few options here).

    Did I mention RSS 2.0/enclosure support? ;)

  4. Heh, Boris beat me to it again. I take one Sunday afternoon off and look what happens!

    Just a heads up, we’re developing a hosted version of what Boris has described – running off the Bryght platform. Tom mentioned in his post that hosting makes senese from a business standpoint, so it’s nice to get confirmation :)

    I keep saying this, but I will have more news soon.

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