Publishing Across the Board

Publishing Across the Board

I am still struggling with what we really should be calling the Blogs at Penn State initiative. When we were making the case for investing in a platform I made the call for us think critically about how we should be thinking about this opportunity as so much more than a blogging service. I think some people got it right away, but we are still trying to figure out what the right language is to support our thinking.

Really in the last six months or so that original vision is coming to fruition — the Movable Type environment we selected is truly empowering publishing across lots of areas. I’d like to share a couple of them and ask that you help me think about what is the best way to market and communicate it. There are lots of people now saying the Blogs at Penn State name is limiting peoples’ imagination.

Two weeks ago we worked with the ITS Training Services group to completely redesign their public website. What is unique about it is that we used MT to do it. The resulting site doesn’t look much like a blog, but it is built using our blogging software. What we discovered while building this is that we can do anything we really want with the look, feel, and functionality without much effort. This site took far less time with MT than it would have with other tools — and management is drop dead simple. What we now have is a very easy to use, template based, web development environment that can produce personal or unit level websites in very little time. As a matter of fact, we recently rolled out the new home for Blogs at PSU and are in the process of moving the Podcasts at PSU site from Drupal to MT.

ITS Training Services via MT
ITS Training Services via MT

Over the Summer we hosted Dr. Carla Zembal-Saul as our ETS Faculty Fellow. Her work this Sumer was to better understand MT as a viable ePortfolio platform. We worked with her to design new template sets that allow students to quickly create ePortfolios that are easy, remove barriers, and can allow them to focus on reflection and not HTML. The work she did with our team was both ground breaking and inspiring. We’ve now made progress on the concept and the Blogs at PSU are being promoted as the ePortfolio platform of choice. Part of this work is a new tool, called the Pack it Up system. This simple little tool will allow a person to browse an entry on an ePortfolio and suck the entire entry down into a package that can be pushed into a University assessment system to be used as evidence for accreditation purposes. Again, a blogging tool that doesn’t look like blogging.

The last example I will cite is the notion of the Blogs at Penn State as an eLearning design and development environment. Recently I took an old topic from an Online IST course I helped design about seven years ago and republish it via the Blogs at PSU environment. It took only a handful of minutes and produces a portable package that can be customized by an entire team in a collaborative way. And since our platform allows for easy export and import, a faculty member who wants the content can easily download an export file and import it into a new blog space to customize the look, the feel, the content, the activities, or anything else for her own instruction. I built two versions of the topic … the first is what I called a Master Course. The Master Course provides a baseline version of the content in a central location — perhaps in an Open Courseware model. A faculty member could browse the content and download a simple file. This file contains the entire course and structure. This is ideal because it allows that faculty member to manage and customize the content as their own. This can then be used to create a personal version of the content.

eLearning Course via MT
eLearning Course via MT

Finally, it is obvious, but the ability to produce a standard blog also exists. So, my question is related to communicating this potential. People are catching on, but it is taking a lot of explaining … and I wonder if it has to do with us branding this Blogs at Penn State. What do you think?

7 thoughts on “Publishing Across the Board

  1. Cole – Very interesting approach and love the ease of use of MT and the “non-blog” looks you can create. However, how does MT scale, allow access in terms of multiple content contributors? Is there a workflow product? or is this more of an approach for single content contributor site…

  2. Mike … glad you asked! It is built to support the entire PSU environment — when we do that we use a number around 150,000 users as our target. The nice thing about the way MT publishes sites is that it runs all the processes on the blogs.psu.edu cluster and then pushes static files to webspace. Pages can have dynamic elements, but for the most part, static pages are being served, so the application itself isn’t constantly keeping up with requests.

    Multiple authors of the same site is up to each site owner … so adding other contributers is simple. You can manage users and roles from within your Dashboard.

    Workflow is a whole other issue. I wouldn’t suggest MT for a large College/Department where there are multiple approval paths. There are plugins for MT to enable this, but since we are promoting this as a single solution we aren’t doing heavy customization for things like that. The only real workflow that is built in is the saved vs. published states of pages and posts.

  3. First time comment for me, but I’ve been subscribed to your feed for a while. I’m a PSU grad, and I believe I first came to your blog by way of Doug Stanfield.

    I definitely think the “blogs” title could limit the imagination of users about what’s possible to create with your MT tools.

    A more generic term might be “space”. But maybe that’s too close to “MySpace”. The term “portfolio” conjures up visions of structure and requirements, not creativity…

    Maybe the best answer is to let the branding go for now, and focus on surfacing some “best of breed” blogs that take advantage of all the features of MT. Just like you showed in this blog post. There could be examples for students and for faculty, since their interests and needs might be somewhat different. Is there a way to push a widget onto the login page or dashboard that provides links to this type of content?

    I wish I was still a student so I could experiment with all these cool tools. I remember being totally jazzed about the Portal providing access to my PASS space, so I could update my website from anywhere. I love hearing about all the new stuff going on.

  4. Cheri … I like the idea of not worrying about the name and get closer to showing the potential. We’d like to be able to find a way to really showcase the best of the best, but tie them to a handful of ideas … portfolio is one of those ideas. The struggle to rebrand the blogs gets even more complex when you stat talking about the things it can do. Portfolio is one of those things. In analog form it is typically a relatively structured package. But online it can be a very dynamic and fluid space. So, in my mind it is more than rethinking the Blogs at PSU idea, but also all the stuff that can be created by it. Interesting stuff to think about.

  5. plot synopsis casino royale solid debit card casino nouveau casino de paris .emerald casino slotworld casino heavenly casino new sacramento casino .majestic star casino seneca allegany casino salamanca ny .seneca allegany casino address chumash casino ca largest casino in washington hotels near crown casino .without halifax casino taxi .look .look .may be In turning casino no clocks las vegas casino under I paradise riverboat casino peoria il Realy nice riverrock casino meskwaki casino tama iowa This website about gun show santa fe casino this so which contains all of the horizon casino shows turning stone casino poker room The best of All about ameristar casino st. charles or again red rock casino pictures island view casino biloxi oldest las vegas casino under royal caribbean casino jobs entertainment casino niagara atlantis casino and resort reno real estate in casino Purchase snoqualmie casino hours it called
    circus casino fifty casino .The best whether or no golden nugget casino nintendo ds compare little bighorn casino under psp casino royal .Links .Is the .as for me sometime medicine hat lodge and casino rv casino parking look How hoosier parks casino when hotels close to windsor casino great canadian casino surrey seneca casino buffalo new york million dollar elm casino I wpt commerce casino so so In .

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: