Drupal is a social movement

I’ve stopped talking about Drupal as the dominant platform recently.  Now it’s not because I don’t feel that it is — even though I’m blogging from WordPress right now I feel that Drupal is the best platform.  But the thing that shines brightest in the Drupal community is just that… the community.

Sure, the hook and alter system are fantastic.  Sure it’s extendable and ultra flexible.  If you really know what you’re doing you can bend Drupal to your will without breaking a darn thing. But none of that would be important without the people who get up and drive the Drupal bus every day.

The people in the above photos are just a few of the thousands who have stood for DrupalCon and Drupal Camp photos over the last many years.  Every event I’ve gone to someone inevitably tries to get a group photo.  Partly I think because they can’t believe the sheer volume of people there, interested in learning about a web development platform.  Now it’s time to spread this community to the education world.

I started a discussion thread on groups.drupal.org recently that seems to have caught some fire and I hope continues to burn (see article Forming a Drupal in Higher Education Consortium).  Drupal already has a major foothold in many universities and colleges but I don’t know that people really understand the scale to which this has taken place.  A recently study by w3techs.com found that:

“Drupal is used by 27.7% of all the websites whose content management system we know and that use .edu as top level domain.” http://w3techs.com/technologies/segmentation/tld-edu-/content_management

So how to best keep this momentum going?  I’ll be putting together a document soon and sharing it with the community about how I think we should be positioning Drupal in higher education. Here are a few of the main points so far:

  • We have seen nation wide budget cuts and need to continue to innovate in the face of tight budgets, increasingly doing more with less
  • Standardizing on Drupal and we can unite staff roles and technology stacks on the web under a common platform.  No other web platform could power websites, intranets, learning management systems, content management systems, knowledge bases, blogs, asset management systems.  Train your staff once, deploy against multiple web projects.
  • Hang out in common IRC channels, unite social media presences under consistent hash tags, as well as form a website that can aggregate to all drupal.{myschool}.edu sites participating in the consortium.
  • Create a list of best practices such as reasons to use certain modules and distributions as well as those recommended for use in education
  • Pay knowledge forward, ultimately we’re all trying to serve the interests of faculty and students so let’s help advance things forward together

I’ll have a more complete document for my vision for what a Drupal in Higher Education Consortium would look like but these are my key thoughts at the moment.  You’ll notice most of them are structured around the people impacted by the world of today as opposed to “views is awesome and drupal is king”.

Drupal is much more then just technology much in the same way that I am much more then just a programmer.

To me, Drupal is an idea that aligns heavily with the fundamental mission of education — empowerment.

Some additional thoughts on this topic