Class Web Page Options
Instructors at the BSOE have a lot of options with regard to which tools can be used to manage class web pages. This page is an attempt to describe the most commonly used options among BSOE instructors. This is not an exhaustive list, and there is no policy that says you must choose one of these options. You can choose literally any web hosting option you want. However, you will receive the most support from BSOE IT staff if you choose one of these options. It's also important to note that you don't have to choose only one of these options; you can choose to mix-and-match the options listed here.
Selecting An Option
The BSOE instructional support staff hosts its own schedule of classes, which is responsible for provisioning class web pages for instructors.
Once the instructional support staff schedules you to teach a class, and not less than 60 days before the start of the quarter, you will receive an e-mail with instructions about setting up your class web page. With the exception of Canvas and Google Groups you will be able to create any of the options listed below through the BSOE class web page site. If you have any questions or comments about the options listed below, please contact the BSOE webmaster via e-mail.
Canvas - Best Choice!
Canvas is the campus class web page solution, and it is supported by a group of IT staff that are not directly part of the BSOE. Canvas has a few nice features - like integration with AIS's grading system. It is a good choice for classes.
Drupal is the option that enjoys the most comprehensive support within the BSOE. The majority of BSOE websites use Drupal, and the BSOE webmaster is able to provide a very high level of support and assistance if you choose to use Drupal.
Drupal has dozens of pre-packaged modules to add functionality to your site like forums, blogs, comments and more, as well as a wide array of pre-made themes, including the official BSOE theme.
Each class may have its own separate Drupal site and instructors get complete control over the Drupal installation so they can install whatever modules and features they want. Drupal is a fully What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get (WYSIWYG) system and is generally not liked by people who are HTML wizards.
Drupal has many features that make editing web pages easier for most people, but HTML wizards tend to call a lot of Drupal's features "limitations". It's also somewhat difficult to "copy" a Drupal class web page from one year to the next. It is possible to copy the contents of one Drupal site to another, but doing so requires support from the BSOE webmaster and is not a self-service option.
WordPress is an easy-to-use website tool was originally designed as blogging software but has been expanded to include features that are common in other content management systems, like static pages. It's quick to set up and easy to learn, but not as flexible as Drupal with respect to add-on modules or themes. WordPress does not offer the wide range of features that Drupal does; for example, you can't really set up a forum in a WordPress site. WordPress is more geared towards sites that offer information but not much student interactivity.
Google Groups aren't really a website tool per se, but they are a good option for a class web page if you expect the majority of your web page interactions to be discussions between students and instructors. You can attach files to posts in Google Groups, and it, of course, integrates nicely with user's e-mail accounts, but like Google Classroom there isn't a lot of extensibility here.
The BSOE started hosting web pages for classes in approximately 1996, and from that point until about 2011 the most common way to publish a class web page was by editing HTML content by hand. This method is still available to you, but requires specific knowledge of HTML and some familiarity with using Linux or UNIX systems. This is an option that is not recommended for beginners.