CampusPress and Columbia
Columbia University began self-hosting a WordPress Multisite network for course blogs in the Fall of 2009. Through the years, as the usage began to increase on campus, so did the complexity of hosting and managing WordPress inhouse. So in the summer of 2014, after months of testing and planning, the network was migrated to CampusPress to take over the hosting and ongoing maintenance. This left the Columbia team more time to focus on supporting faculty in using WordPress in their courses. Today’s network has over 11,000 users from across the university, and the tool is embedded into dozens of courses campus wide.
A Blog For Every Course
Many of the WordPress networks on CampusPress serve multiple purposes – a combination of sites for students, departments, ePortfolios, and more.
But edblogs.columbia.edu is catered exclusively to handling blogs and websites for individual courses. This makes it easier to tailor settings, plugins, and themes to this need.
Faculty use edblogs to share assignments, encourage collaboration, facilitate students publishing on the web, and as an alternative to a more traditional and walled-off LMS.
Collaborative Custom Development
During the years when Columbia was self-hosting their WordPress instance, they also developed a few WordPress plugins. As part of the migration process, the ongoing development of these plugins was turned over to CampusPress developers to help with scale, reliability, and feature improvements.
For example, a plugin was developed that makes it possible to use attribute information in single-sign-on systems like Shibboleth or CAS to automatically add users to a blog. This makes it possible to setup course blogs and automatically add all students as contributors or subscribers in just a few clicks.
Another plugin was improved to create detailed user profile pages for multi-author blogs. This makes it possible for faculty and classmates to monitor posts and comments from an individual student on a public page of the blog.
We know that often unique needs come up, and CampusPress enjoys working along side of customers to help improve the overall user and learning experiences.