As initially stated in an earlier post — https://btopro.wordpress.com/2009/06/07/how-to-follow-with-such-incredible-momentum/ — there is growing interest for Drupal in Higher Education and a body of some kind to help with the direction we all take. The goal of a Consortium (as I see it) isn’t to create a physical product, cost money, or resources in order to get going. I see the point of such a body is to create a set of standards for how Drupal can and should be deployed in Higher Education. I’ve deemed the group Drupal for Universities instead of Drupal in Higher Education because of the unique scenarios that we all face in the University sector as a result of our scale and scope. This isn’t to say that College’s can’t join in, it’s just that the focus will be steered by Larger Universities with a collection of Colleges.
Here are some groups that have expressed interest thus far and I hope to talk to in greater detail with — Arizona State , BYU, Madison Wisconsin, SUNY Empire, PSU (duh). I also know of several other big schools that are using Drupal who I think would be great to talk to in more detail including VT, MSU, MIT, PIT, CMU just to name a few. Now is the time to organize and I think some virtual sessions along with the occasional physical one could be of huge benefit to us all. Currently, there are user groups at many universities which all need to mobilize and get everyone talking about what they’re doing locally. Here’s some common trends to universities that I think we can standardize on via Drupal:
- Webroot or Drupal folder organized similarly to how we’ve got things — all virtual, pointing to either a drupal5, drupal6, or drupal7 folder. This way we can support more then one Drupal version while looking like they’re all coming from the same place (/courses/abc123 — is drupal5 while /courses/new456 — is drupal6)
- Common Infrastructure starting at Drupal6 with a Virtual Hosting environment not being required but definitely facilitating resource sharing.
- One site that is capable of scaling and controlling the other sites within that setup (hopefully with expanded functionality to what we currently have available)
- Naming conventions and best practices for managing scalability issues
- A common base of modules that everyone agrees are essential to serving education (Views, CCK, WYZIWIG API, Outline Designer, etc)
- An optional set of modules that most agree are good to have and document what they can be best used for to serve our “clients” (IDs, students, instructors, etc)
- A website that is a common resource for everyone. Using the information in https://elearning.psu.edu/drupalineducation/ as a launch pad but then taking the documentation / resource to where ever the Consortium takes it.
- Resources for how to help grow Drupal user groups locally and how to help others help themselves
There are a multitude of reasons why this could be so helpful to so many but ideally there would be a suite of modules that could be agreed upon need to be created to help foster Drupal in the educational sector and that those projects could be worked on collaboratively across university lines. I can only develop and maintain so many in a vacuum and I’m sure many out there also have these potential issues going forward to create and maintain essentially proprietary pieces of an open source project. This can help us avoid the pitfalls of current, closed source LMS / CMS that are embedded into many universities (many names, all closed, all huge).
Grassroots is how this movement is going to take off and it’s how it is currently! Please, if you feel passionately about Drupal and it’s usage in Higher Ed, pass this link on. Not just to give me traffic but to drive traffic to this idea and get others on board! If you’re interested please leave a comment below, re-post / like to it, tweet it. Grassroots is the best way to spread a movement that has been largely grassroots in it’s spread and popularity.