I like the idea of a content management system for an elementary school, so students can write and publish in a clean system with a back-end database. Help me understand the dimensions of the idea.
Currently students at the school (about 500 students) go (infrequently) to a computer lab, type documents in MS Word, save them to various folders on a server and print them. The result is a rubble of work, difficult to manage and impossible to collocate into usable results.
I dream of students sitting down to a login window. They select a project set up by the teacher, and then they see a ridiculously clean, full-screen editor, something like Write Space
, with a very few options on the side. For the youngest kids, they might have a few icons to contend with, and perhaps more formatting options for the older kids. There's no saving, no file management, no formatting to contend with.
The teachers (most of whom don't want to muck with technology) pick from among a few presentational templates for the students' work. They'd get help.
The fields the students type into are fields in a database. An admin can pull all the work together by class, by project, by student, by teacher, or combinations. The admin would be able to publish the work to printed reports, possibly to publish to the web, to send in emails, to view on iPads. It has to have flexibility built in.
We have a mix of desktop CPUs in the lab, and some in the classroom. We're also bringing iPads into the process, and there are the computers in students' homes. So I want the front end relying on accepted protocols (HTML5, etc.) and not a proprietary system of software installs.
The database needs to be scalable to potentially swallow up all areas of the process — teacher materials, student data, etc.
I'm a former graphic designer and avid tinkerer with code, currently trying to get up to speed on PHP, MySQL, etc. The tech guys are supportive and strong with server support, network security, and so on. There is no timeline but I drive myself like a maniac when I have a juicy project with many moving parts. So a year or two, building over time?
— Where should I point myself? Drupal? WordPress? Homebrew combo of server-side stuff and CSS?
— Are there real-world examples of hyperflexible publishing systems based on Web-standard tools like MySQL and so on?
— If I were to pick a small, strategic spot in the process to bring in a consultant, where would it be?
That's plenty. Many thanks.