I’m using WordPress now as my course management platform. I outline and explain the reasons why this is awesome here. In this post, I want to highlight some plugins that run the gamut from must have to cool-to-have. I’ll let you decide which is which.
- Email Users
The utility of this one is pretty self-explanatory.
- WP-Hide Post
You might want to use posts to convey information to students, that you link to from a syllabus page. Or maybe an instructions page. But you may not want these posts to disrupt the flow of the blog discussion board. WP-Hide Post puts a display in your post editor that let’s you hide posts from the front page (among other things) on a post-by-post basis.
- Role Manager
You might want a more fine-grained role system than the standard Editor, Contributor, Subscriber options. This where Role Manage becomes useful. You can divide your students in to different groups and assign different permissions to each group.
- Page Restrict
Much of my courses is page is publicly available. You can see it here. But you may want some pages to be restricted (e.g. pages with more personal information about students or pages that have contact forms that you want to keep spammers away from). Page restrict will let you select pages that you want only logged in users to have access to.
- Private Files
If you link to electronic readings, but want to keep things within the bounds of fair use guidelines – Private Files will lock download your upload folder. If you link to a reading that is stored in your upload folder, only logged in users will have access to it when you use private files.
- KB Gradebook
I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if there were a gradebook plugin for WordPress?” It turns out…there is one. Very simple and straight-forward plugin.
- Sideblog WordPress Plugin
Sideblog let’s you set your blog up so that short posts with a certain category show up in the side bar. This would be perfect for a Course Announcements feature.
- List Category Posts
Let’s say you want to created an auto-generated list of links to all posts that fall under a certain category (e.g. Announcements, or Readings). This plugin lets you do that.
- My Page Order
Comes in Handy if you want to re-arrange the order of pages on your course blog.
- Subscribe to Comments
This one is really useful for students. Sometimes students don’t use RSS readers and are only interested in tracking discussions of their posts or discussion threads that they’ve participated in. This gives them a way to email subscribe to the comment thread of just the posts that they’re interested in following.
- WordPress Database Backup
A must if you’re tracking student activity on the blog for a grade.
- Force User Registration Field
Students often use usernames like TheRealHarryPotter92. With the standard install of of WordPress – that’s all the info you would get from your registrant. They can go in and fill out their real name in their profile, but sometimes students forget. With this plugin you can force students to provide other important information (e.g. their first and last name).
This plugin allows you to opt for a mobile phone optimized display. It’s very handy for students and professors with smartphones (e.g. an Android phone, Iphone, or Blackberry). I have an Android phone, and this thing is awesome. It gives me a nice, clean way to interface with my course blog on the go.
- Easy Uploader
This makes it easier to upload files from within WordPress.
- Batch Add Users
I have a brief open enrollment period, and students sign-up for the course. Another option, however, would be to add multiple users. This plugin gives you a very simple way to do that. Here’s another option that works well.