Advice on Software/Paradigms for Non-Techies Going to Techie 6th-12th Grade School?
January 18, 2004 8:36 AM   Subscribe

I'm working with a new 6th - 12th grade school focusing on Arts & Technology integrated into the cirriculum. We're looking for software that will allow us to accomplish varying tasks - e-mail for students/teachers/parents, digital portfolio publishing for students, shared discussion space for class comments, teacher/course specfic pages etc. Each student will have their own portable computer as well.

What I'm looking for is pratical thoughts/examples of how to provide this functionality. I've seen some schools using Manila, dotlrn also seems very promising but perhaps a bit too "big" for us to take on.

Is the weblog paradigm itself a good one to be pursuing to pull this off? Or are we just not ready to go there without significant effort? If you were attempting to create this techno environment for a school (many of whose students and teachers are unfamilar with technology) how would you pull it off?
posted by dhacker to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
Since you are representing an educational organization, I suggest you contact Six Apart, the people behind Movable Type, and see what they can offer to you and how much will it cost. I think a typepad like system would absolutely suit your needs.
posted by riffola at 8:40 AM on January 18, 2004

Since I'm only versed in MT in passing - what features does it have that would support the "community" aspect (i.e. multiple users publishing work under one "domain")?

What about password protected access? We'd like to give parents access to parts of the site that the public would not be able to see.
posted by dhacker at 8:45 AM on January 18, 2004

My school used FirstClass for email, teacher webpages, class discussions, and such. It generally worked pretty well. It might well be expensive though, especially compared to something free like dotlrn.
posted by kickingtheground at 8:58 AM on January 18, 2004

I'd use a wiki (Overview, if you're not familiar with them) plus some htaccess settings (assuming you're using Apache.) So rather than creating user accounts for each student and teacher, use software that's theoretically open to *everyone* but restrict access to your school's IP range.
posted by Aaorn at 8:58 AM on January 18, 2004

Typepad has password protected access features. You could let the students run their own weblog, and photoblog, which could be used to make their portfolios, as well as function as a notepad.
posted by riffola at 9:03 AM on January 18, 2004

I used to run a FirstClass site - that is also one of the options we are researching.
posted by dhacker at 9:32 AM on January 18, 2004

I teach using the Blackboard course management system and have to say that it works OK. It does everything that you mention, plus a few other things. The problem is that it tends to be really costly and requires hardware and personnel commitments that you might not be able to meet. You may be better off looking for a free course management system, but I'd send the Blackboard people an e-mail and get them to give you more information on their system. You can also send me an e-mail privately and I'll be happy to talk with you more about online teaching.
posted by yellowcandy at 12:13 PM on January 18, 2004

There are some fantastic courseware applications being built on top of Movable Type already, and it's definitely the type of project that we'd encourage. I'd be glad to talk to you (or anyone else) who's looking for more information on the specifics of how to implement such a thing, and which licenses are appropriate if you choose Movable Type or TypePad. You can get me at the address in my profile.
posted by anildash at 8:56 PM on January 18, 2004

I'd second the use of a wiki. Plus - if you've got some money to spend, there's FrogTeacher from Frogtrade. (note - not exacly a self link, but I know the people involved)
posted by seanyboy at 12:01 AM on January 19, 2004

Thanks for all the suggestions, Anil, I'll be in touch.
posted by dhacker at 8:12 AM on January 19, 2004

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