Timing: blogs@ist.psu.edu

I read D’Arcy Norman’s post about getting a school-wide blogging service going and really couldn’t believe it. Seems we are on the same page. I have been pushing my group on the blog front for months — since last spring really. He does a great job laying some much needed groundwork … and then tonight I stumble across this post over at incorporated subversion and I am starting to think there is a paper here that would help a lot of people figure this thing out (at least a well executed blogsite).

I sat on the University-wide committee that selected (not passing any judgment on the selection, but …) ANGEL as our course management system and we used some well created matrices that outlined our needs, the tools on the market, and how it all aligned. I have been looking for something like that for multi-user blog tools and haven’t been able to find it. It looks like the need is very timely and there seems to be other interested people out there. I’d help work on something like that if anyone is interested.

We want to create an environment that allows faculty (at first) to create and manage their course blog sites. It has been a requested service by a few of our early adopters, but we haven’t gone after it yet. We did build some basic blogging functionality into the version 2.0 release of our Edison Services toolset, but pulled it at the last minute in favor of putting the horse back in front of the cart and collecting some requirements. I’d really like to have something in place by fall 2005, so we’ll see.

We have been able to automate a standard WordPress installation via a web interface that faculty can use, but it would become an administrative nightmare very quickly. Every install requires its own database and there isn’t any sort of way to upgrade all 160 faculty members’ blog spaces on the fly. I can only imagine what a bitch that would turn into. I love WordPress and am very excited to see the multi-user version! At any rate, we need a solid set of recommendations that match up to the needs of higher education. Let’s get it done … anyone want to help?

5 thoughts on “Timing: blogs@ist.psu.edu

  1. I was talking with Brian Lamb this morning – they’re in the same place as we are wrt picking a multiuser blog platform. He suggested setting up a wiki page so we can all share our notes and thoughts on the options.

  2. I met Brian at NLII in New Orleans and was really impressed with his presentation … I blogged his session as it went on. I would contribute to a space like that. It is needed … I really don’t want to see PSU make a mistake with a poor implementation of a multi-user blog solution. I know the central IT guys are starting a project to roll their own blog solution and I’ve seen it. Nothing as simple as WordPress (not even close) and I know for a fact faculty and students won’t use a tool that appears to be a barrier. Count me in–>

  3. not sure what your needs are, but if you can live without open source, give the guys at Userland Manila a call.

    their focus is enterprise blogging and in my mind, a university wide suite of blogs is not terribly different. they are also very economical and extremely well versed in large implementations.

    if interested, run over to Scott Young’s weblog – http://scott.userland.com/ – and drop him a comment/email to discuss it. Scott and his team are incredibly responsive and flexible. i think they are definitely worth taking a look.

    by the way, from a user/training perspective, their software is very easy to use and if you are bringing on thousands of users, i think ease of use is something to keep in mind.

  4. I’ve looked at Manila … I like it. I was a Frontier user several years back — before blogs. I used it to create a home-grown CMS the faculty I was working with could easily create content for the eLearning course we were building. I had all sorts of cool stuff working with that system … I thought I’d just be able to set Manila up and use it based on my Frontier experience. No such luck … I guess all that means is that we haven’t looked very cloely at it becasue it was a little tougher to get running. We did get it running once I openly admitted my skills have taken a major turn for the worse now that I am in administration and turned it over to someone who can actually do this stuff.

    I like the harverd blogs project and I know it runs on Uslerland stuff. It’ll be worth a look and we’ll add it to our list of tools to investigate. Thanks for the comment!

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