Moving to Drupal

200608250905WIth the help of Steve Burt, I am in the process of moving the Lewis Elementary web platform to Drupal. We plan to use it for our public web site, our staff intranet, and for student and teacher use as a blogging platform.

Beside using Drupal for internal and external web communication, I am really excited about using Drupal as a basis for web based student and teacher interaction. Drupal has a host of features that will allow us to have students and teachers use Drupal to manage the workflow of assignments and student response to assignments. For example each of our 4th and 5th grade teachers will have a blog which she will use to post assignments and announcements to students. Each 4th and 5th grade student will have a Drupal based blog that will live behind our firewall.

The student blogs in Drupal will be designed so that the left sidebar will host an aggregator that will pull in the last two assignments from each of the teachers and post them on the sidebar. (see graphic) When this feature is enabled in Drupal each of the aggregated posts also has a little button next to it which show up when a student is logged in. When the student clicks the button, the teacher assignment blog post is captured and quoted in a new student blog post. The student can then continue to write his or her post in response to the assignment.

While we plan to introduce this to the students as a way to manage their work, we also will begin to introduce the idea that their class blog is a place for them to do other things besides just respond to assignments. We will also enable the images module so that they can use their Drupal blog as a place to organize images associated with their work. Using RSS we will create a master feed of all images and create a Flickr type collection of images that they can share and discuss with their classmates.

Teachers will use an aggregator such as NetNewsWire to keep track of student postings and assignments. By sharing the OPML files from each teacher we can create a resource that can be shared with all the teachers in the building and I am planning on encouraging other teachers (i.e.: ELL, Special Ed, Gym, Music...) to follow student work and to respond to it with comments and encouragments.

After we play a bit in our sandbox we can then start to think of ways to produce content that is seen by a wider audience. I'm looking forward to training the staff on the system next week.

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