DrupalCon Denver: Education Unconference

bonobo's picture


The registration for this event is now open!

End update

Hello, all,

With DrupalCon Denver coming up in approximately 4 months, I wanted to see if there was interest in an Education-specific unconference on Monday, the 19th, the day before DrupalCon begins.

As has been noted before, the interests and needs that fall under the "Education" umbrella are wide and varied; yet, despite the broad range of interests and needs between K12, Higher Ed, Training organizations, Drupal-specific education, non-profits working around education, open content, etc, there are also sufficient overlaps where there is value in talking across our specific niches.

In some ways, it's a perfect fit for an unconference.

I'm officially volunteering to do the legwork to get us a space, and to coordinate the logistics for the event. I would love some help in this, and over the next few days I'll be reaching out to folks in the community who have been active in education-related events in the past. I'll also be reaching out to some folks in the ed-tech community who aren't necessarily in the Drupal community, as we could all benefit from talking with one another about needs and interests.

At a high level, I would love to see an unconference that met these general needs:

  • Facilitated connections between people working in the education space who would not have the opportunity to interact within the larger venue of DrupalCon;
  • Generate conversations among people working in different areas of education; in this way, K12 folks could talk to Higher Ed, people working in Libraries could talk to other stakeholders, etc - while there are many differences in what we do, there are also similarities, and it would be good to see some opportunities for collaboration materialize;
  • Set the stage for more focused BoFs at DrupalCon - rather than spend the first BoF of DrupalCon figuring out who wants to talk about what, we could lay the groundwork at the unconference for ongoing conversations throughout DrupalCon;
  • Discuss development methodologies and best practices that are making our lives easier, and more productive;
  • Demonstrate and discuss example sites, and talk about how we built great sites that help people learn more effectively;
  • Your idea here.

If you are interested in helping with the planning and organization of this event, and/or if you have ideas on how to make it better, please, chime in in the thread.

And, I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in Denver!


I hope I can go!

btopro's picture

I think a lot of people from higher edu would attend drupal con denver just to goto this / the bofs! The inclusion of a nonprofit / gov / education track at drupalcon helps but I still find many of the accepted sessions to not be compelling enough to bring the average drupal'er passionate about education to come out.

"Set the stage for more focused BoFs at DrupalCon" -- thought the conversations would be invaluable at an event like this, sadly this could be the most important thing for the community, lol. Having organized BoFs in the past you really do spend the first day more or less just spinning wheels getting rooms / topics organized and there's a lot of unnecessary churn.

Would love to see some informal way (or CoD site) of getting "sessions" together for something like this, again just to give people an idea of what to expect. I think this could be the initial meet up needed to really get the Drupal in Education Consortium off and running -- http://groups.drupal.org/node/165144

Some other thoughts:
--Showcase consulting group work in education and some of the cooler projects that often get less "play" in the drupal-sphere.
--Jason Hoekstra had a presentation queued up that hasn't been accepted (yet) about showcasing some educational distros. I'd be happy to do similar work in how to extend ELMS or Open Atrium / other distros in terms of building Features for an Educational context.
--Discussion of the Drupal in Education Consortium and what that really would need to be to highlight Drupal usage in education to spread it further. I know this isn't a huge sell for most in higher education bc of staffing but say "Drupal" to K-12 / anyone with limited tech resources and you can feel the fear start to bubble up. Any way we can help eliminate that barrier to entry through modules, distros, and resources for education would be a great start (imo).
-- directed at Bill Thinking back to that panel we did in Wisconsin where we took something end to end in talking through our process to implementation of something for education. That could be useful as well as maybe even some kind of "ask the experts" panel. I know a lot of people that would love to have "authorities" to bounce ideas off of and get validation about usage of certain projects.

Count me in!

eliza411's picture

Count me in!

This sounds like a great

bneil's picture

This sounds like a great idea! I'm in - and would be willing to help in any way I can.

I'm wondering if anyone who went from the Higher Education Drupal Summit at BADcamp could chime in on how that event went. Maybe that's a good starting point for organizing this event. How did "lightning talks" and "topical discussion groups" go? I could see doing topical discussion groups as a starting point to organizing the BoFs for DrupalCon. http://2011.badcamp.net/higher-education-drupal-summit

I'll be there!

Shawn DeArmond's picture

Thanks for getting the ball rolling on this, Bill. I helped organize the BADCamp Higher Ed Drupal Summit, and I'd be happy to help out for this event as well.

We had several great take-aways from the higher ed summit at badcamp. The lightning talks and the topical discussions were fantastic. I sometimes felt reluctant to keep to the schedule and break things up in order to move on to another case study. That being said, the case studies were also awesome. If you want to see the most outrageous Open Atrium setup as a college intranet, be sure to invite kevee to speak.

We had everybody in one room for the entire event, seated at 8-person round-tables. With only about 100 people, I think that really worked out. For the lightning talks, we just had people stand up with the hand-held mic and talk for a few minutes. Later on in the day, we did another round of lightning talks and we just passed the mic around from table to table. It was a really great way to get everybody involved.

If more people sign up, or if there are a lot more variety of sessions/presentations/whatever that people want to give, breaking out into separate rooms is an option. For us, though, it was great to have everybody together.

Here's my wrap-up blog post on the summit:

Lessons learned

bonobo's picture

Hello, Shawn,

I'd welcome help getting this organized - I'd particularly be interested in hearing about lessons learned, what worked, and what didn't.

Ideally, I'd like to document as much of we can about this process so that these kinds of Education-related unconferences can become a regular part of the landscape.

I'm down to talk

kevee's picture

It was an awesome event, and I'll be doing a version of my talk from BadCamp at Drupalcon Denver as well, where we'll be releasing some code and Atrium.edu.

That being said, I always am fascinated by what can happen when you get eight random people from higher ed around a table. It was a good event and a model that would be great to see repeated.

Web Developer, Cal State Monterey Bay

Will Help!

jacieyang's picture

I'm relative new to the Drupal community but I'd love to help in any way! Just attended drupal camp austin this weekend and I was thrilled!

I work in higher ed. To be more specific, I teach at Texas State University where I have an undergrad web publishing class and a grad level CMS class. This semester, in the CMS class, which is the very first time the school offers this class, me and my 19 grad students spend 1 month on wordpress and 2.5 month on drupal.

don't know how to help yet, but will keep throwing in ideas and help in any way i can!

I love this. There were a ton

civicpixel's picture

I love this. There were a ton of great education session submissions for DCON that didn't make the cut for the npo/gov/edu track -- I'd be happy to provide someone with that list to use as an outreach point for this event.

I attended the nonprofit summit at BADcamp and the format worked really well there. In particular I really appreciated the focus on topical discussion groups as I was able to meet quite a few new people working on similar challenges.

How can I (and PCC) help?

jbthuis's picture

Hi - Sounds like a great idea. We, PCC, may be able to help. Let me know what I can do?


bonobo's picture

Hello, all,

Glad to see the responses here.

I've also had some positive responses via twitter and email, so things are shaping up well. Based on past events I've been involved with like this, I figured there would be some interest, but given that I had the awesome timing to put this post out late Saturday night the weekend before Thanksgiving, I wasn't sure how many people would actually see it :)

I'll definitely be reaching out to folks who want to help with the organizing and logistics. The first thing we should nail down is a space for the venue. I'm going to get in touch with some education and Drupal folks I know in the Denver area, but if anyone has ideas/leads on a venue, that would be awesome.

The general needs for a venue would include:

a. Reliable wireless;
b. Rooms/space for breakout discussions;
c. Somewhat centrally located;
d. Good food options nearby;
e. Possibly, projectors? Or we could look to source those from elsewhere.
f. What else?

Based on stated interest, and on how these events have unfolded in the past, I'd imagine we could have anywhere between 30-100 people, so we should keep that in mind with our planning.

Once we start to narrow down the details of the venue, we can look in more detail about how we'd want the day to be structured.

Once we get some leads on venues, we can start

Auraria Campus is ideal as it

civicpixel's picture

Auraria Campus is ideal as it is right next to the convention center. If you can get a student on the campus to "sponsor" the event it can be extremely affordable (i.e. $100-$300 day for enough space to accomodate hundreds). We've held several successful Colorado Drupal camps there.

Denver Public Library is another option, often friendly providing space to nonprofits and other groups. Farther walk from the convention center (~5 blocks)

We host a lot of events here at our office (like the monthly Denver Drupal Meetup). Our only limitation is we don't have a single room that can accomodate more than 50-60 folks comfortably for an extended period. We do have ~3 spaces in the building that can hold ~20+ for sessions. Our office is also farther from the Convention Center (~10 blocks), but there's a light rail station a few blocks away.

I'm sure there are a lot of other options in town as well, but those are the ones I'm familiar with.


bwood's picture


Definitely interested. Nice

jrbeeman's picture

Definitely interested. Nice to see some momentum around this.

I'm in.

kepford's picture

I'm in.

Wow - thanks for organizing

jasonh's picture

Wow - thanks for organizing Bill! Definitely interested both in attending and helping to plan/promote.

Would be happy to do a session on the Learning Registry (http://www.learningregistry.org/), Drupal integration and what it can do for open education resources (and beyond - any content syndication).

Education Hack Sprint

jasonh's picture

As another idea, it may be useful for us to do a hack/sprint on a module for education within Drupal. We could concept during the un-conference, code away in the gaps of Drupalcon, then plan to wrap up and publish at the end. We could have some Denver teachers from the area come in to talk about real classroom problems to guide the brainstorming. It would be great to walk away from Drupalcon with a sense of accomplishment knowing that we made Drupal better for education by one more useful, functioning module.

*cough* LTI *cough*

btopro's picture

cough LTI cough

lol, no I think this is a great idea. Find a common need and go after it. The only two I've noticed that are pretty cross-system is the ability to clone spaces (working on actively w/ folks from GoingOn) because OG = Course (or could) to a lot of people and LTI spec for people to seamlessly gain access between systems. Maybe we could go a bit less framework-y as well and shoot for something like a really solid educational feature for use in and out of the major distros. Maybe some kind of mini-learning environment.

Awesome to see this level of interest!

bonobo's picture

Hello, all,

Glad to see that there are so many folks stoked in getting this in place.

I just put up a wiki page with a draft schedule - this is definitely a work in progress.

The most immediate thing we need to get nailed down here is the venue - if there are any Denver folks that can help facilitate a connection to Auraria campus, please ping me via my contact form, or at bill at funnymonkey dot com.


ninermac's picture

Until I started my new job a couple weeks ago, I worked at UCD/Auraria. LMK how I can help! If we have an idea of roughly how many people, I can suggest some appropriate campus venues.

Nina McHale
Aten Design Group

I'm thinking somewhere between 50-100?

bonobo's picture

I think if we plan for somewhere in the 50-100 range, we'd be in a good spot, but I wouldn't be hugely surprised if we had a larger crowd. I'm basing this on my experience with other similar unconferences, and with the overall level of interest in education-related BoFs in DrupalCons.

Are there folks in this thread who think this number is way off? If so, what are your thoughts?

Any help you could offer in recommending spaces, and connecting me to people within Auraria would be awesome!


Shawn DeArmond's picture

We had 195 attendees sign up for the BADCamp hi-ed summit. About 100 actually attended. I think we should expect more than 100 at a DrupalCon gathering. Maybe not as many as 500, but 200 is not out of the realm of possibility, considering that it's not just HIGHER-education (right?) and it's an international conference. We could get more... hard to say, I guess.

Higher interest, most assuredly?

smhanes's picture

Some colleagues and I out here at IUPUI in Indianapolis have been following this on the fringes, and we just speculated a high interest in this unconference. We could be way off ourselves, but we postulated 500+ might very well be interested.

We are definitely looking forward to it and cannot wait to hear about other projects in the works and share ours.

500 feels high, but crazier things have happened

bonobo's picture

Based on past experience with running/participating in both education- and drupal-related unconferences, 500 feels like the outer edge here, but with that said, there has been a huge uptick in interest around drupal within education over the last few years.

It's actually been pretty amazing watching the trajectory.

In any case, I'm still trying to get in touch with someone within Auraria, as it feels like a pretty ideal spot for this. At some point (probably early in 2012) we'll need to balance the space available in the venue against the projected interest. I'd love to hear from more folks about their ideas on numbers. Once we settle on the venue, our hands will be tied wrt the number of people the event can support.

Thanks for your input here.

Interest from GW

kmasood's picture

There will be at least two attendees from The George Washington University. Shall we do a survey monkey poll to see how many would attend? If that seems like a good idea, I can do the leg work and post a link to the survey back here.


A poll would be awesome

bonobo's picture

Should we just use this to get a count, or should we use this to get a sense of who will be coming, and what their level of experience/familiarity will be?

I could see some advantages to getting some demographic info, but at the same time I don't want to make the poll too cumbersome.

Also, I'm thinking of options like:

  • definitely attending
  • very interested - likely attending
  • interested, but not able to make it
  • Not coming! Silly Drupal! We luv Joomla!

Sounds great!

jasonh's picture

A poll sounds like a great idea. I'm noticing a lot of conferences are also adding a virtual component for those who can't attend physically, curious if that's worthwhile for this meetup? (and an option for attendance on the poll)

Count me on the "definitely attending" list.

gchaix's picture

Attending: definitely
Level of experience: I run a bunch of sites, but don't really write much code (modules, etc.)
Areas of interest: both K-12 and higher ed (yeah, I'm one of those weird ones who does both)

poll option

ctbarber's picture

Being very new to the Drupal world, I may not have much to offer, but am very interested in attending. One of the poll options might be for folks that plan on attending if money comes through from Druplacon. If I can find the money in the budget, I will be there. At this point some folks may not know just yet.


Thanks @bonobo. Approx, what

kmasood's picture

Thanks @bonobo. Approx, what day(s)/time is the un-conference going to run? March 18th, 9am-4pm? I'm putting together a survey to gather names and emails, and gauge interest.


Draft schedule

bonobo's picture

I put up a draft schedule as a wiki page at http://groups.drupal.org/node/193603

This draft has the conference running 10-6; the times will likely be shifted according to the needs of the venue.

The unconference is set to take place on Monday, the 19th.


janusman's picture



humansky's picture


+1 very interested - likely

howrad's picture


very interested - likely attending.

We'll have a couple folks from web.unt.edu going, and we'd love to participate in the higher-ed uncon. We organized a higher-ed BOF at DrupalConSF, and I made some lasting friendships through those and evening outings with higher-ed folks.

Experience level: We manage roughly 600 Drupal sites for the UNT system, have contributed a couple modules, and if our experience can help others, we love to share.

Poll is now live!

bonobo's picture

The poll is at http://kavi.wufoo.com/forms/drupalcon-denver-education-unconference/ - Please let us know if you are planning on coming!

Thanks to kmasood for putting the poll together.

Continuing Education?

ezraw's picture

Interested, but still trying to decide.

+1 to btopro's suggestion of LTI implementation (have you seen http://drupal.org/sandbox/samo/1156848?)

Anyone else interested in talking about training and certification topics? Either online continuing education or conference-based continuing education?

LTI recommendation

jasonh's picture

Also +1 to LTI / BasicLTI --- I've been interested in the topic to enable cross site content sharing and would be interested in helping to develop this module @ a DrupalCon ed hackfest.

sandbox is a starting point.

btopro's picture

sandbox is a starting point. I took that code and almost have it functional for integration with our lms. Hist need to get some time to work on it more but I think replicating any standard moodle supports will make it even more obvious which is the better long term solution.

Look what I

Broken link

_vid's picture

The link url was cut off.
Drupal-Full-LTI-prov... should be: Drupal-Full-LTI-provider

Hopefully this will work. Here's the full link.

By the way I had to look up VLE and LTI.

LTI => Learning Tools Interoperability
VLE => Virtual Learning Environment

This site had a good description of the concept: http://www.imsglobal.org/toolsinteroperability2.cfm

Still looking to connect with someone at Auraria Campus

bonobo's picture

Hello, all,

I'm still looking to connect up with someone at Auraria Campus, as that seems to be an ideal spot for this unconference.

Can anyone here help with that?

I'm fine calling them on my own, but it seems like the local community already has some connections there.

If you can help with this (or if you have other venue suggestions) please let me know, either via email ( bill (at) funnymonkey dot com ) or via my contact form here on gdo.



I recommend posting to

coltrane's picture

I recommend posting to http://groups.drupal.org/denver-boulder-colorado-dbug or hopping on IRC freenode #drupal-colorado and asking if people know. Justin C (nick is larsdesigns) was the DrupalCamp CO venue coordinator and may have some names of Auraria campus folks.

I've been in contact with

eliza411's picture

I've been in contact with both Auraria events and the Denver Public Library.

The library was full, and with CiviCon at Auraria on the same day, it's pretty full, too.

I was able to initiate reservations for 4 rooms holding a total of 50 people at the Auraria student union building. We have two weeks before making a final commitment.

They don't know right now what will be available in the way of classroom rentals. When they find out, we can potentially add capacity.

Thank you for getting this rolling

bonobo's picture

Huge thanks for getting this rolling. I REALLY appreciate you jumping in and making this happen. You totally rock.

Over the next couple weeks, it will be good to get a more accurate head count of who will be coming. This will help us see how much additional space (if any) we'll be able to/need to get.

I'm still arranging my fight

kepford's picture

I'm still arranging my fight but I'm planning on attending. Love to help out Bill. Let me know what I can do.

+ 1

dmalicke's picture

+1 I will be at this meeting.

I look forward to meeting with you all.

  • Dave

Hi,Do we know if this is

bwood's picture


Do we know if this is happening for sure? I filled out poll haven't but heard anything. Was waiting to hear about this before buying my plane ticket, but I better get on it now.


Same, though I am already

smhanes's picture

Same, though I am already booked and ready to be there. Just need to know where 'there' is.

This is definitely happening

bonobo's picture

There will be an announcement coming soon (likely over the weekend).

The venue is Del Pueblo school; attendance is capped at 150. Given the attendance at past events, and the feedback we received from various sources, that felt like a safe number.

The even will be free; I'm looking into EventBrite as a way to manage the "tickets" (although I also might use an event signup here on g.d.o).

The event will run from 9:30 to 3; we'll have a panel after lunch, and the folks on the panel represent a broad range of people working in education.

More to come soon, but the event is definitely on for Monday, March 19th.


djdevin's picture

Looking forward to the official registration!

Devin Zuczek
Senior Developer / Systems Architect
DLC Solutions, LLC and EthosCE LMS

Announcement, and registration now live!

bonobo's picture

Details at http://groups.drupal.org/node/211118

Look forward to seeing you there.



Update OP

scottrigby's picture

@bonobo can you update the original post? since this thread is pretty long… may be helpful in getting people to the info page faster >:)

Good idea, that!

bonobo's picture

Thanks - The original post is now updated, with pointers to the announcement on g.d.o, the registration page, and the session page.