Recently I wrote the post “The course Web site is integral to the success of blended or online learning”. Today I spent the day working with the installation of Drupal on my laptop trying to implement what I described.
My goal is to implement this with a standard installation of Drupal (of course, with the addition of contributed modules). It has been at least ten years since I have programmed with PHP (which is what Drupal is written in) so I’m not going to be writing any modules myself any time soon. To this end, I have relied on the following modules:
- Content Access
- Node Reference
- Flag actions
- FiveStar (Voting API)
These modules have allowed me to make some progress on my goals. In just a couple days I have implemented the following:
- Students can submit a class post and define it as “For review”.
- Students can submit critiques for any class post that is defined as being “For review”.
- Students can see a list of class posts (designated as “Published&rdsquo;) sorted by number of comments (ascending) and publication date (ascending); this way they can see the class posts most in need of comments.
- Students can submit comments on both class posts and critiques.
- Students can vote on class posts, comments on class posts, critiques, and comments on critiques.
- Students can individually bookmark any comment on the site.
- Students can see a ranking of the content that is receiving the highest average voting.
- Professors can mark any content as “recommended” for students.
I’ve been very impressed with Drupal and its modular construction. The above represents some pretty good progress in a short time, but work still remains:
- I already see that the system is collecting information about how many times the student votes, comments, critiques, and writes. I just need to centralize the information so that it’s easy for the student and the professor to monitor and use the information.
- The main work that I have remaining is constructing the lessons pages (and, of course, the content).
I have yet to figure out the information architecture for the lessons. I don’t know what modules to use, I don’t know whether to use node references or a taxonomy as a means for categorizing the lessons, etc. And I haven’t had too much success finding any type of large community of higher education Drupal users. They are out there, but it’s a pretty small group. Given the strength of the platform, I’m surprised.
Given what I have discovered about Drupal, I’m hopeful that this is going to change in the coming years.