Meeting Notes 2009-08-19

Key Topics and Debates:
Curricular Technology platforms, WordPress, Segue, plugins, themes, configuration, surveys, recommendations, needs vs technologies, migration strategies

CT Platform Discussion
  • WordPress will be updated to the latest version this weekend
  • Work is being done on adding single sign on to Measure, but this probably won’t be implemented for awhile
  • Some argued that the team should not be spending time now discussing plugins and themes for WordPress because:
  1. A major part of our charge is to find alternative solution(s) to Segue
  2. It doesn’t make sense to research/recommend new plugins/tools/services until we understand what people need
    (for related pre-meeting discussion of this topic, see: CT Blog > Responses to “Reseach: Twitter plugins for WordPress”)
  3. There are other projects/activities that are more important such as “Course Site Platform Survey Questions”
  4. Many of the resources needed to review and implement new WordPress themes and plugins are currently focused on the web redo project
  5. We should hold off on changes to existing platforms until we have a strategy for replacing Segue
  6. We shouldn’t focus on implementation details until we have overall curricular technology strategy
  • Others argued that a discussion plugins and themes for WordPress, as well as Measure and Segue is important because:
  1. These platforms need to be ready for use in the fall
  2. There have been requests for new plugins and themes that need to be responded to
  3. Some new plugins and themes could provide useful functionality that would benefit the Midd community
  4. Some configuration changes to these platforms could make them more usable
  5. While we haven’t done any surveys yet, some members of the team have talked to faculty and have studied exiting usage patterns and so may already have some insight into what people need.
  6. Looking at existing platforms in detail may help the team understand them better and help in the search for alternate solutions

Feedback re: Course site platform recommendations
The Area Directors team has not yet formally responded to our recommendations.   Everyone present agreed that it was important we invite Shel to one of our meeting ASAP and if this was not possible soon, then a subset of the team should try to arrange to meet with Shel.  Here is feedback from Midd community to date regarding our recommendations:

  • Some has asked that the maximum size of file that can be uploaded to WordPress be increased
    (our recommendations state that users who want to upload large files should use Segue)
  • Some have asked whether we are recommended that the same migration options be made available for WordPress as for Segue
    (we have clarified our recommendations to note that migration options should be made available to migrate WordPress content only to other blogging platforms)
  • Some have suggested that we shouldn’t recommend that Segue be “promoted as the primary platform for course sites” this fall
    (all present team members felt it was important to keep this recommendation given the shortcomings of WordPress as a course site platform)

Migration Strategies
There was a discussion of what sorts of migration options we should recommend.  For pre-meeting discussion of this topic, see: Responses to “Research: What is exported from a WordPress blog?” Everyone agreed it was important to ensure the community that there will be migration options for content they put into any of our platforms.  Most agreed that we might need to provide options for migrated Segue content to more than one platform.

  • Some argue for a strictly linear migration strategy, pointing out the challenges of maintaining multiple migration paths
  • Others argues that some platforms such as Segue and WordPress should have options to migrate their content to more than one other platform (see: CT Migration Proposal Diagram)

Research Focus: Needs vs Technologies
The discussion of curricular technology platform segued into a discussion of the relative importance of surveying what user’s need vs research new technologies.  Everyone agreed that it is important for us to find out what user’s need.  Not everyone agreed on the value of researching and implementing new technologies that have NOT been widely requested.  As well, not everyone agreed on the best way to find out what users need.

  • Some argued that any research into new technologies is pointless without knowing what people need
  • Others argued that many people in the Midd community don’t know exactly what they need and that it is our job to show them what is possible
  • Some argued that the best way to find out what people need is to survey them, form focus groups…
  • Others argued that much can be learned from informal discussions with users and by analyzing existing usage patterns
  • Some argued that all new technology implementations should be based on fulfilling an clearly identified need
  • Others argued that it is our role to also explore and promote emerging technologies and to be proactive as well as reactive

CT Platforms Configuration:
The themes currently available in WordPress were briefly reviewed.  Suggestions were made to disable side-wide access to certain themes, particularly, those designed for specific blogs.

  • Joe and Alex agreed to review these after the WordPress upgrade
  • The ShadowBox theme created by Alex was briefly reviewed.

The configuration and usage of Measure was briefly reviewed. Measure currently is configured such that only the quiz module is activated.  It was agreed to not make any major configuration changes to Measure:

  • All requests for Measure sites will be handled by Alex

Next Meeting:
Everyone agreed we should invite Shel to our next meeting (and/or have a subset of us meet with him at an alternative time).  We also agreed that we should focus on survey questions for upcoming meetings.

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