Class Web Pages

NOTE: The page previously hosted a number of how-to videos about editing class web pages via Drupal at the BSOE. Those videos have become so out-of-date that they are of no value, so they have been taken off-line until they can be recreated. If you have any questions or comments about class web pages, please e-mail the webmaster. If you need assistance using the new system, a one-on-one or group session can be arranged.

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 hosts its own schedule of classes, which is responsible for provisiong class web pages for instructors. The data in this web site is controlled by the instructional support staff. The BSOE webmaster is not permitted to modify the schedule of classes, which means that the BSOE webmaster cannot create a class web page for you until instructional support staff schedule you to teach the class in the BSOE class schedule.

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 provision 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.

Drupal

Drupal is the option that enjoys the most comprehensive support within the BSOE. The majority of BSOE web sites 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. Tutorials on using Drupal are available on the support web site.

WordPress

WordPress is an easy-to-use web site 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.

DokuWiki

DokuWiki is another easy-to-use web site tool that is a Wiki, rather than a general purpose site or a blog. Wikis are good for allowing a community of users to edit pages fairly easily. DokuWiki is fairly lightweight in terms of management overhead. DokuWiki is a good choice if you expect your students to update pages on the class web site as part of their instruction. DokuWiki is probably easier to administer than WordPress, but doesn't have as much extensibility as either Drupal or WordPress.

Google Classroom

Google Classroom is a relatively new tool made available by Google to support class web pages. It's fairly rudamentary in that it essentially acts like a classroom blog and homework submission tool. It's nice that it integrates with user's Google Apps experience on campus, and does not require any technical knowledge at all, but the flip-side to that benefit is that it is very rigid and not extensible at all.

Google Groups

Google Groups aren't really a web site 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 intergrates nicely with user's e-mail accounts, but like Google Classroom there isn't a lot of extensibility here.

Google Sites

Google Sites are similar to Drupal sites in that they allow you to edit content in much the same way, but extending Google Sites to include features like forums or blogs is difficult and clunky. However, if you couple a Google Site with a Google Group, you may have a combination that works well for a lot of classrooms.

Canvas

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.

Traditional Hand-Edited

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.