Druapl Edu Features Sharing?

markwk's picture

I think it would be good for us to share our educational site features. Any thoughts?

This comment ( http://groups.drupal.org/node/135109#comment-445384 ) provides a great list of educational distros in the works or at least in thought. Unfortunately, no one distro solves all problems and most problems are somewhere between different distros. But it is possible to delineate what "features" (= functional, glued-together mix of modules, views, content types) are out there and to attempt to share and develop them communally.

Here are my suggestions:
1.) Write a list of what features and modules we have in working order, what we are working on and what we could work on in the future
2.) Put together a simple educational "feature server" somewhere for the various functions (most likely linked to git repos / drupal.org).

Perhaps these features could be simple extension of distro already out there.

Any thoughts?


I completely agree. While

btopro's picture

I completely agree. While personally I'm for running different systems and then using centralized / SSO authentication systems to knit them all together there are those that want to roll features together into a single system. ELMS is coming out this week with a new feature called schedule builder that allows you to lay out a flags based checklist for students to self track their progress through a course. After the distro drops and I take a few days to rest up I'm going to work on releasing the schedule builder component as it's own Feature. It'll be quite a few modules and I need to decouple it from the spaces / og dependencies but I think I can make it work in other systems.

Words Feature

markwk's picture

Excellent. Definitely something I could imagine applying in my course / education site.

I've got a simple "Word" vocabulary feature I have started that's for sharing and voting on class vocabulary. It's currently focused on the idea of sharing words in a language learning environment but I think it is applicable in many class scenarios. I'd love to build it up into more powerful learning unit with the idea of flagging words you want to learn / have learned, and then linking it into a flashcard review page.

I'm still fresh in terms of programming experience but I'd love to broad its applicability and educational value. Anyone interested in working together on this?

Features would be nice.

aitala's picture

I wouldn't mind seeing several of these LMS projects releasing Features based functionality along with full distros. I've seen several items which I could use in existing where deploying a Feature would be the way to go.... starting from scratch with a full distro is not an option.


We're looking to collaborate

barneytech's picture

We are looking to make a learning management system in Drupal at Babson College. We are looking to team up with a few other Colleges/Universities to share the costs and share ideas. Be in touch and we can discuss. Contact me through this Drupal site or email me at jbarnett@babson.edu


James Barnett

good idea

chrisakeley's picture

See you next week, James

Yes see you next week! :)

barneytech's picture

We look forward to another set of hands :)

define LMS

btopro's picture

I have my own set of goals but it would be nice to not duplicate functionality / efforts. How LMS we talking? Like quiz, gradebook, roster management and the works or managing course content (my target atm)?

Sounds like a great plan.

dmcw's picture

Sounds like a great plan. We're tinkering with features right now, and tagging them by platform (open atrium, open scholar, general drupal). Some of the things we're working on include a simple flashcards feature, and a simple media catalog.

Doug Worsham
Powell Library | UCLA


markwk's picture

Just caught the link with your feature server. CooL

Full features compatibility; easier said than done

bonobo's picture

Hello, all,

We should definitely be working toward full features compatibility (and this is something that will be easier in D7 than in D6) but most features make some assumptions about underlying config that make true interoperability tricky to achieve.

For example, a feature around a dicussion content type can potentially make some assumptions about roles, input formats, blocks that display these discussions, and views that list/display/search these posts.

If contexts are part of the mix, that's an added layer of complexity. We wrestled with (and addressed) many of these issues in VoiceBox, and these issues are not insurmountable, but the architectural decisions required to do this well require some time and centralized planning.

Kit compliance is another tool here that should be featured in this work.

very true, Bill. At this

dmcw's picture

very true, Bill. At this point everything we've done, we've only tested within its intended framework. I'm sure we've made quite a few of those assumptions you mention! :-)

Doug Worsham
Powell Library | UCLA

I agree that we need to be

markwk's picture

I agree that we need to be careful about how much goes into a feature. I have not had much luck moving features from different distros. Probably because features are not intended to be quite as general as a module. But, one of my thoughts is that we can try to provide "stripped down" versions of features that can be used with a functioning distro as an example in order to more easily and quickly add something we didn't have before.

The goal perhaps isn't to get the whole cow but maybe we can share some of the tools and know-how in "feature" form in order to milk our genetically modified breed.

big props from Wisconsin for

dmcw's picture

big props from Wisconsin for those cow-metaphors!

Doug Worsham
Powell Library | UCLA

Where to Share?

markwk's picture

Where were would be the best place for us to share these "well-uttered" (~) features?

It could be as simple as a wiki page or a feature server or git repo or even something more developed like a edu feature sharing site? On drupal.org or off? I'm pretty open and willing to help with whatever.

It would be nice to have a way to interact in a public with the individuals behind their features. That way others can see the transcripts and adapt from there too.

Research Backed Teaching Strategies

scottosan45's picture

In sharing and developing these features, or I suppose, functionality for a specific purpose, what if the focus was on buidling features or modules that allowed for the implementation of research based best practice? For example, taking Marzano's time tested classroom strategies and creating the functionality for each of these. This could be one way to ensure the work we are doing is based in best practice within the educational realm. Just a thought I had after reading the thread.

Sounds good.

markwk's picture

Sounds good to me. I'm not really familiar with his methods / strategies. I'm working on stuff for vocabulary learning (in particularly for language learning) that builds on memes for learning as well as a collaborative/wiki writing feature.

If you can give some concrete examples / practices that you are looking for, I'm game for implementing it.

Contact me directly if you are looking for something in specific.

An Example

scottosan45's picture

I have also been working on a vocabulary tool based on the book Building Academic Background Knowledge. One of the components I am working on is students developing vocabulary notebooks throughout the course (personal vocabularies). Each vocabulary term the students add to their dataset would contain the word, students level of understanding, their description (not a dictionary definition), and a non-linguistic representation. Easy enough to do using CCK but wondering the best implementation for a non-linguistic representation. Currently, students upload this as an image. There is a lot of potential to also analyze student responses across subject areas and grade levels using views.
What other research based best practices are people implementing?
If this is taking the conversation in a different direction than the initial post I will repost in another thread.

Not that I've checked mine yet

btopro's picture

But where ever these features live we should try to get them kit compliant as well -- http://drupal.org/project/kit

Especially with some of the features thrown out like one specific to what's described in a book (not to pick on it). That's a very specific type of feature and could potentially lead to content type name spaces that overlap with others pretty quickly.

As for location that's a great question... here's a few current locations -- http://groups.drupal.org/node/50278


markwk's picture

You're right about pushing for kit compliancy with any features. Besides a front-end departmental univ sites, one thought I had was to create something like an AtriumEd (especially with the termination of eduglu, no surprise there).

OpenAtrium is a great communication tool. I've added a few features that allow users to add images and share videos from various sites. There are some obvious changes that might be worth making.

For example, adding Outline Designer would be nice. It would be good to have a wysiwyg editor with insert module. ELMS has some stuff that might be pulled in too (especially the lovely new schedule builder!). Eventually, it would be good to have some sort of lightweight grading system for assignments. Specifically, I'm also at work on adding in-text teacher corrections/highlighting for writing assignments.

I'm wondering if anyone else might be interested in using OA as the basis for an educational, collaborative distro: AtriumEd.

It's somewhat like the distros based on Ubuntu. We take OA and maintain the basic core functions but add a new skin, some features and adjust as needed.


Outline designer pairs quite nicely with OA

btopro's picture

I've setup a lightweight intranet site for our unit with outline designer worked in and it seems to work very well for the most part. I think OA could be a great base system for an LMS replacement. ELMS is based on similar tech (spaces / og / features) but the implementation is intentionally pushing fragmentation at the moment (where I'd consider OA to be a unified platform). I think with minimal work the schedule builder could be exported out of ELMS as a Feature for OA. It's on my roadmap to do this at some point down the road but not at this time.

The open studio is a feature inside the collaborative learning environment distribution as well (though not Kit compliant I'm sure). To avoid sounding like a broken record I think Atrium is a great vehicle for an ED based distribution / feature-set. I think we'd need some way of flavoring Atrium consistently (beyond just a Kit Spec) so that efforts aren't replicated.


markwk's picture

I'm not quite sure what you mean by flavoring? Is this a question of what we call things? Like calling blog = discussions? Or are we talking something deeper?

One aspect that I think I am imagining for this sort of distro is in terms of the relationships that need better defining for edu vs. intranet (teacher>student, student>teacher, teacher<>students, etc.).

In my head, I visualize two or three kinds of edu distros for drupal, one that functions for departmental stuff and one or two that function for learning situations with several possible feature sets depending on the class and class style.

Flavoring, grouping of module

btopro's picture

Flavoring, grouping of module selection, which ever :). The terms being overridden would be a must. I was able to do much of this with Spaces String Override (or whatever it is called) that ships with Atrium as well as the String Overrides module. They don't get EVERYTHING in every context (hence http://drupal.org/node/1057894 ) but they go a long way.

As I argue for very distributed LMS platforms I've been kicking around the notion of using Atrium as a back-end information system / the core LMS as a communications and information architecture backbone. This would then feed data / dictate the creation of all kinds of other spaces (ELMS content spaces and collaborative learning environments in my context).

barneytech's picture

As you know btopro Babson College is also pursuing Atrium. I am currently developing a facebook "wall" that could plug into Atrium or a similar organic groups environment. Our CIO was very impressed with Atrium. We haven't decided on whether to build Atrium capability from "scratch" using a base Drupal 7 install, or to use Drupal Commons or Atrium. Right now Atrium is running quite successfully in a pilot for a class and is blowing away Blackboard's discussions and blogs features. One student interviewed gushed on how great the Atrium discussion / blog format was.

Anyhow stay in touch on this topic folks.

Checked OSSO?

markwk's picture

I'm actually working on a distributed version of OA sites connected via a multilingual social network. This setup will in fact relay all posts back to the hub and note the user. The idea is to use various OA sites (especially in multilingual versions, since an individual OA can't be multilingual well) and connect it back to the hub.

I'm interested in tracking

dmcw's picture

I'm interested in tracking this conversation on "AtriumEd"

Anyone out there experimented with using (or developing) different themes with OA?

Doug Worsham
Powell Library | UCLA

Definitely in the works...

markwk's picture

I'm currently reworking OA's notebook function to separate the general writing and assignments as well as getting together a teacher comments function where teacher can highlight text in need of work. All this will use ckeditor wysiwyg.

Retheming is definitely going into the grinder in the coming month / 90 days. It's a must to keep the contextual help (?) function which makes OA more friendly for confused users.

Creative Chalk

gmasky's picture

Try creative chalk http://www.creativechalk.com/ based on Drupal. The UI is good and it already has elements of an LMS


Drupal in Education

Group organizers

Group events

Add to calendar

Group notifications

This group offers an RSS feed. Or subscribe to these personalized, sitewide feeds:

Hot content this week