Sounds like I have been asked to Design an Online School... CMS Recommendations?
August 25, 2009 11:51 AM   Subscribe

I've been asked to design a website that shows the progress of subscribers academic achievements based on what marks they get from modules posted on the site. I have no idea even how to begin this?

Basically client wants to provide a service where subscribers have to pay for specific content that they will be tested on. Marks for the results are then shown on their 'academic achievement' page which can be linked to from their own site.

er... I'm pretty good with WordPress but am in the dark about a plug-in combination that could do the academic achievement bit. wp-commerce for PDF download, some sort of trivia quiz plugin for the question, but showing the results in a pretty way on their author's page?

or am i going down the wrong track? I'm guessing I shouldn't be using WordPress.

What should I be using? Is there any specific Content management system that does exactly this?
posted by gonzo_ID to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
are they willing to use Moodle, ANGEL, or Blackboard?
those are pretty much designed for exactly that.

i like blackboard a lot more than ANGEL, but it's also more expensive.
i haven't used moodle but have heard of it as an alternative to ANGEL and BB.

http://www.angellearning.com/
http://www.blackboard.com/
http://moodle.org/
posted by sio42 at 11:58 AM on August 25, 2009


You are probably going to have to hone your skills quite a bit as this will no doubt require custom programming at some point to link things together. However, you might consider drupal .. paid content plugins and quiz plugin (has some features for online supplement sorta thing you might be talking about).
posted by shownomercy at 12:00 PM on August 25, 2009


I register a vote against Blackboard. It's a train wreck. Moodle is open source, and everyone who gives Blackboard the boot runs to it.
posted by Citrus at 12:05 PM on August 25, 2009


i should say that i am a user, not a developer, so i have no idea about these from a behind scenes stand point.

i always found ANGEL extremely cumbersome to use and now that I have blackboard for at my current school, i really like it a lot.

i have a prof who used to use moodle when he was an adjunct at a different school and said it was really awful. perhaps it was just their implementation? that may also have been the case with my ANGEL experience.
posted by sio42 at 12:09 PM on August 25, 2009


This doesn't sound like a job for Wordpress, even if it's technically possible to bend it to your will.

Subcontract your job to someone who can build the custom gear needed to make it work smoothly.
posted by rokusan at 12:24 PM on August 25, 2009


Thirding Moodle, which is built specifically for online education, and has the advantage of both fontend and backend to manage registrations, being able to see your scores, etc. It is ugly, but there are themes. There are also paid themes, and they are slightly better. Personally, I would design the site I wanted to deliver and sub-contract out having a Moodle theme made for it so you at least had a solid box to start working in.

(You may not be old enough to remember the first years of WP - all of the themes were universally ugly, for years.)

Seconding anything but bloody Drupal. We just did a site with it and it has been hell. Everything you will want to use is either frustratingly presented (like the quiz module - who hard codes a limit of one question per page??) or was abandoned two versions ago (aggregator, forum) or is uneditable (search widget) unless you re-code it.

Avoid, avoid, avoid.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:26 PM on August 25, 2009


This might be helpful.

http://www.incansoft.com/IS0008.php

I haven't used it myself, but I'm considering it.

Also, check out the price.
posted by darth_tedious at 1:04 PM on August 25, 2009


seconding folks suggesting Angel/Moodle/etc... really, look for a course management system rather than a content one. course management systems are specifically designed to be, essentially, a classroom in the web browser; they come with tools to deal with grading and testing and content management and all that "in the box." (for example, you can have someone pay for courses, and then only release content and test options based on completion of prior content - no chapter 2 before you finish chapter 1 and the test. most systems will automatically grade for you if it can, etc.) some additional suggestions in this line: Sakai is another open-source option, or, if you're willing to spend money, also look at Desire2Learn. (my day job is/was this; we use D2L.)

you should probably find someone to help you architect the system and customize it to your needs - a CMS like this will work quite a bit differently from WordPress, if that's all you're used to, and will require a lot more customization (though perhaps not nearly as much as trying to roll your own) even if you get a commercial product. at minimum, someone will have to set up the payment and enrollment system for you.
posted by mrg at 5:25 PM on August 25, 2009


i like blackboard a lot more than ANGEL, but it's also more expensive.

You sir, are evil. We currently maintain both, in production, and it's hands down worse to support. I don't particularly care for either's online discussion tools, but it's about a billion times easier to figure out what's going wrong when a user complains that Chapter quiz 2 is giving them "an error."
posted by pwnguin at 11:32 PM on August 25, 2009


Also, nthing a quick look at Moodle. The big features of Angel and Blackboard are institutional integration, with student LDAP auth, and with accounting's terrible system known as Banner. From what I've tried with Moodle, it's fairly simple and fairly feature complete, excepting the Banner integration that you probably don't need.

Plus, moodle is packaged in Ubuntu, in main even.
posted by pwnguin at 11:35 PM on August 25, 2009


You might be interested in a program called Waypoint Outcomes. It seems to feature integration in many of the Courseware solutions mentioned here. As an aside I am employed by a subsidiary of the parent company that purchased Waypoint Outcomes. I have not experienced using it.
posted by andendau at 11:40 AM on August 26, 2009


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