Academic ITS support three main web platforms for faculty and students. They are the Moodle course management system, the Confluence enterprise wiki, and the WordPress web publishing platform. Each platform has its own strengths and specializations and there are significant overlaps between them in some areas. Following is a description of each service and some aggregate usage statistics for the 2011-2012 academic year.
Moodle: A traditional course management system
Moodle is open source and widely popular with over 65,00 registered sites and over six million hosted courses worldwide. As with all course management systems, Moodle course sites are highly structured and appear similar to each other. The overall look and the feel of sites is not very flexible. The sites are largely transient in that one is automatically created for each course taught at the College and then moved off to an archived (but accessible) area following the end of the semester. Moodle offers quizzing and grading tools as well as assignment submission capability and online discussion forums. Moodle course sites are typically restricted to enrolled students and instructors and not available on the open web.
Moodle was introduced at Colby in the fall semester of 2008. Faculty adoption was fairly aggressive and about 50% of all courses for the past few semesters had an activated Moodle site.
Pros – Highly structured, specialized, and uniform in appearance.
Cons – Highly structured, specialized, and uniform in appearance.
Confluence enterprise wiki: A secure web collaboration platform
Confluence offers spaces, or contained web sites, that are easy for teams of people to contribute content to rapidly. Primary competitors include Microsoft SharePoint and Google Sites. Web pages and attached files (PDFs, Excel spreadsheets, etc.) in Confluence have revision histories automatically saved making it easy to revert to previous versions if necessary. Many built-in tools called macros are available to extend functionality. The appearance of Confluence spaces may be changed by choosing from the four themes available. This is an excellent platform for group projects and peer review.
Each Colby user automatically gets a (invisible by default) personal space on Confluence and additional, specific purpose spaces are created by request.
Pros – Fast performance, great collaboration tools, secure, and extendable.
Cons – Relatively utilitarian appearance.
WordPress: A general purpose personal web publishing platform
WordPress began as a popular blogging platform but evolved into a fairly full-featured web publishing platform. It is open source and extremely popular with over seventy million sites worldwide. It is extendable through its plug-in architecture and there are thousands of free themes available for sites. WordPress is easy to learn for the beginner and offers many options for the more advanced user. There is an emphasis on aesthetically pleasing themes. Multiple users may edit and contribute to a site but managing who may have what privileges on a site not as flexible as other platforms. WordPress is frequently used for web-based course projects, to disseminate course information, for personal or professional home pages, and academic department sites.
Each Colby user gets a (invisible by default) personal site on WordPress automatically and additional, specific purpose sites are created by request.
Pros – Extendable, emphasis on design/appearance, easy to use.
Cons – Not as much granularity to multiple user roles.
Use on of Academic ITS supported web services during the 2011-2012 academic year
(9/7/2011 through 5/14/2012)
|Platform||Visits 2011-2012||Pageviews 2011-2012|