Introducing BuddyPress

BuddyPress IconUMW Blogs has now rolled out BuddyPress, which is yet another way to explore what is happening within this community. Some of the features include directories for members, blogs, and groups. The introduction of groups is a new feature that BuddyPress affords, and any member of UMW Blogs can create one and add whomever they like to it from throughout the community.

Some additional features include “friending” people who are on UMW Blogs as a means to follow their activity. Also, everyone automatically gets their own profile page which lists their recent activity, blogs they author, and groups they are a member of. As you may already be thinking, “this kinda seems like a Facebook knock-off.” In many ways it is, but we aren’t really imagining it as a UMW replacement for Facebook, because that would just be silly.  Facebook is impressive at what it does (although it locks you in like a cornered rat). What we are interested in exploring with this simple set of tools is the possibility for making it easier to discover the work that is happening throughout the UMW Blogs environment. This is really just an experimental space, and we will evaluate just how useful it is or isn’t over the course of the next year.

One immediate difference you will notice across UMW Blogs when you login in is that there is now a grey admin bar across the top of every page once you login. This is a nice feature of BuddyPress that helps consolidates your blogs all in one place while giving you direct access to your personal profile information and the BuddyPress directories—just keep in mind that admin bar may not work with all blogs themes, and this is something we will be remedying shortly.

So, anyway, if you are intrigued, poke around in BuddyPress and let us know what you think, or what can be improved. We will be redesigning the space so that it integrates more cleanly with the old gold UMW Blogs site, as well as adding a number of additional personal informational fields to the BufyPress profile, but other than that it should pretty much fully functional as of now, so don;’ be afraid to give it a try.

Jeff McClurken’s Digital History course featured in EDUCAUSE Review

Image of Jeff McClurken's Article in EDUCAUSE Review

In the most recent issue of EDUCAUSE Review, Jeff McCLurken’s Digital History course has been featured as an example of “Developing 21st-Century Literacies among Students and Faculty.” The course is an excellent example of framing an experience wherein the students are asked to imagine their approach and then examine and choose their own tools based upon the nature of their projects. A methodology that challenges the idea of limiting the projects by any one pre-determined tool or approach. It’s truly an EDUPUNK approach that included all of DTLT, not simply one-tool-fits-all—against my WPMU advice, mind you— and the resulting projects exemplify this beautifully, using tools as diverse as Omeka, Simile Exhibit and Timeline, Google Docs, and, of course, WordPress. Anyway, go read Jeff’s portion of the article here.